Saturday, 11 June 2016

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions that I have been asked most frequently by readers of the blog or whenever I posted articles from this blog on Facebook pages, or when others shared my posts.

Feel free to ask another question if yours is not yet listed or insufficiently answered!

N.B: Recently I have decided that 'rewilding' is a better term to use to describe this way of life than 'moneyless' because living without money (as much as possible) is only a very small aspect of this way of life. So this FAQ is not entirely relevant anymore, although I have made some changes to my answers. I might write an updated version as new questions come up.

1. I am just one person among billions. Why would it matter what I do? Can I really make a difference?
2. What are the benefits of living moneyless? Why would anyone do it?
3. How do you get <insert random “need”> for free?
4. What motivates you to do what you are doing? 
5. How can you say you live moneyless when you are using other people's facilities that cost them money?
6. Are there exceptions to your moneyless life?
7. If you want to be free full-time and live completely moneyless, then why don’t you quit your job?
8. What do you do for fun?
9. What will you do with all that money you have saved while living moneyless and also earning a salary? 
10. What if everyone would live like you? Would society as we know it still exist? Would we still have the comforts we have today?
11. But what about things that are mass produced? Will we still be able to have things like computers and such? 
12. Are you against money? If it were up to you, would you ban money? 
13. What if the majority of people just doesn’t want to risk losing what we have and want to keep things the way they are? 
14. What about healthcare?
15. What if you get old/sick/etc?
16. How can I support a moneyless world? How can I best inspire others to change?
1. I am just one person among billions. Why would it matter what I do? Can I really make a difference?
The short answer is YES, you can make a difference! Not just for yourself, but also for others.
You'd be surprised of how much one person can do, and if you make it your mission to create change you will continue to discover new ways in which you can help your cause and make changes in the world that go beyond the scope of the personal / individual level. As long as your intentions and motivations go beyond personal rewards and benefits, then your reach will, too.
For example, your life mission to support the environment and the ecosystems through targeted actions may inspire many other people to make similar changes and to start working towards this common goal. You may even create a social movement in the process of reaching out to others and sharing your personal story. Every single action counts, and it is impossible to see the reach of the outward ripples that even one single action can create.
Once you have made steady changes to your life, you will see that you can't help but affect others differently also, perhaps inspiring them to change without even trying (in fact, it only works as long as you don't try): they will notice how you respond differently, how your vibe is different, that you are a happier person and that you express yourself differently. They will notice how you choose your words and actions more carefully and how they are more aligned, because your actions (as well as your words) are now directly guided by your values and beliefs. They will notice how your new way of life works much better for you and everyone around you. They will notice you live your life with more integrity, and how your life seems somehow more meaningful for that reason. They also notice how they could do the same thing and start living within their values instead of doing what everyone else is doing. All of this is contagious; it is inspiring.

2. What are the benefits of 'rewilding', or living moneyless? Why would anyone do it?
 There are so many benefits to the moneyless life that it is difficult to list them all. Let's look at some of them:
One of the biggest benefits to the moneyless lifestyle (or what I now like to call 'rewilding') is that it promotes freedom, in every sense of the word.This includes having more options for how you want to live your life, having more time, being more in control of your health and what you eat, and increasing your own skills for survival instead of relying on others. It puts you back in control of your own life and you no longer have to participate in society's obligations such as jobs, consumerism and taxes.
- Physical:
Rewilding is also likely to get you in a better physical shape because you are solely responsible for your own health once you quit money. Rewilding also leads you to de-clutter your life, which is a huge contributor to a more relaxed and happier life, because you have so much less to worry about (and you realize you didn't really need all that stuff in the first place!).
- Emotional:
Rewilding can make you a happier person, because it encourages living life from a place of gratitude at all times. It also gives your life instant meaning and purpose, and therefore you will experience a sense of fulfillment more of the time. Living with integrity helps you become more balanced and remain centered through most of your experiences in life.
- Cognitive:
Your mindset changes for the better when you focus less on money and simplify your life. It helps you to get back in touch with the reality of being part of an ecosystem and to live in harmony with the beings around you. It also stops the calculated type of mindset that money teaches, which promotes conditional giving rather than unconditional living. Unconditionality is another key to happiness. Having more time will create necessary space for you to reflect more and integrate new experiences. This also helps you stay grounded and equanimous. More about the moneyless mindset in this post.
- Social:
Rewilding (and living without money) promotes independence (from the system and others) as well as collaboration with others. This means your relationships with others will also improve. As with all aspects of life, you will no longer be looking for what others can do for you, but more for what you have to offer and how your relationships with others can be as meaningful as possible.
-Benefits beyond yourself:
Rewilding has also many positive impacts on the environment in that it helps other beings thrive, it halts the destruction that we are doing to the earth (mainly driven by money, ownership and our loss of connection with nature), it brings your focus back to supporting the ecosystem you live in and brings you more in touch with the natural resources you use, which promotes efforts to protect and help replenish them.

3. How do you get <insert random “need”> for free?
When your main focus is contribution (instead of just getting everything for free) and you start getting creative, you will see that there are many ways to get things for free. Of course you can work your way towards living completely for free in steps/ stages, as I have done (that is: without using money). You may also discover along the way that you no longer need certain things, even if you really believed you needed them in the past. So it is best to just get started somewhere and see how far you can take it, without anticipating too much on things you might think you need. You can simply eliminate one cost after another and deal with each need as it arises. I have to add though that 'getting something for free' is a misleading way to describe this way of life and it puts the focus in the wrong places. Contribution and giving is always the main focus. All needs should therefore be questioned in the process of simplifying life.
Some ideas about how to find basics for free can be found here, how I found my first free home is explained in this post and some ideas on what to do for fun can be found here.

4. What motivates you to do what you are doing?
When I started the challenge, it was mostly about saving money and doing something practical to help the environment besides just studying environmental psychology and doing research. However, very soon into the challenge the other benefits mentioned above took over, or rather supplemented these initial goals. This helped me to keep going, and turn my vision into a mission; a way of life. The journey became self-rewarding. This last year my life has felt more meaningful than ever before. Also I have felt happier and healthier than I have felt in a long time. And I have definitely felt more focused, determined and successful than ever. All that is left now is for me to gain total freedom after I finish my final job (the PhD degree) in 2017. Then I will be completely free. I am very much looking forward to taking this last step towards personal freedom.

5. How can you say you live moneyless when you are using other people's facilities that cost them money?
This question has come up a lot. So much so, that I decided to write a post about how I see it. You can read more about it here. The bottom-line is that living moneyless requires a different mindset, which will develop once you get started on the path. It is therefore difficult to describe, but perhaps with some imagination it can be understood from the post that I just mentioned. Money can create a mindset of exchange and a focus on calculating cost and value in all our interactions with others, which makes our relationships less personal and less rewarding.
In addition, the distinction between what costs money and what doesn't is completely artificial and made up. In the end everything comes from the earth and returns back to the earth. What is free and what costs money has changed over the years and will keep changing. So why would we even make that distinction?
When you live moneyless, you are no longer constantly thinking about exchange. People don't give to me conditionally, and I don't give to them conditionally. All interactions are unconditional. This is what happens when money is taken out of the equation, and that is the point of 'moneyless living' for me. The focus is on what you can give instead of how much you can get.
In this context I also think it is important to remember that not paying money does not mean that one does not contribute. The contribution just happens in a different form, which is more focused on serving others directly and serving the ecosystem that we are all a part of than on "financial contribution" (which sounds rather vague and unspecific in comparison, doesn't it?). Read more about that here.
One final point is that the answer to this question ultimately doesn't matter, because living without money is not actually the goal of this way of life. The goal is to get more in touch with nature: to increase awareness and consciousness. I would like to call it 'rewilding'. That is freedom. Read more about that here.

6. Are there exceptions to your moneyless life?
When I say I am living moneyless, it means that I am not spending any money, without exceptions so far this year and with a few exceptions last year. However, I still have a job at the moment (until October 2017) so I still receive an income and I still have some indirect payments (automatic taxes). Also, I use office supplies that are paid for by the university and I get some incentives to use for traveling and costs while traveling. This means there are occasions where I am still indirectly 'consuming'; mostly through my job.
However, after October 2017 I am planning to retire completely and then I will be completely money-free. Then I will no longer burden the earth directly nor indirectly by using valuable resources for valueless reasons. This will be the final step in the process of my personal liberation; the final step towards freedom. It is what I am preparing for right now with the foraging challenge.
However, remember that living without money (or with less money) is only a tool to help me in what my way of life is really about: rewilding - getting more in touch with nature and raising awareness/consciousness.

7. If you want to be free full-time and live completely moneyless, then why don’t you just quit your job?
I have considered quitting my job, but eventually decided against it. I seriously considered quitting my job at the end of last year and with any other job I would have. So this last step of giving up everything is taking a bit longer than I hoped and ideally it would have come sooner. But I do treat my job more like a hobby now (I take it less seriously) and definitely don’t let it dictate my choices and priorities. As a consequence I enjoy it more too, and I am probably even more productive. I used to take my work way too seriously to the point where I would often stress myself and others out (I suffered from burnout a couple of times in my life).
However, a couple of points have made me decide against quitting this job. I started the job before I started this challenge and my job provided me with the ideal circumstances to try out moneyless living to decide if it was right for me. Also, it is a temporary job so it won’t be much longer and it gives me exactly enough time to prepare all my next steps in detail, before starting the nomadic journey. The job also gives me a lot of freedom: I can work from home whenever I want and can even include writing this blog as part of it. It is almost as good as being entirely free, and a great step in-between.
In a way this job helped me discover the moneyless life, because it gave me the final push to take environmental action (with the topic of my PhD being about interventions to promote behavior change to mitigate climate change). So I feel some loyalty towards the people who made this possible (my supervisor mostly, who has been very supportive of my personal efforts with this moneyless project from the very start). I have also found that it works much better to take on this challenge in steps rather than throw myself into the deep end straight away. The process of freeing yourself from society (and changing/ re-building your mindset) takes time. And because at the start I still had my connections with society (through my job) I was able to test the waters first with some peace of mind.
Nowadays my mindset is so different that it is hard to imagine that I was so obsessed with getting a job in the first place. And it is hard to imagine that I would have felt like I needed a job at all. But I did. And I found one. Luckily I also took up the moneyless challenge, because now I know I don't need a job, which frees me up for the future. So in part, I have my job to thank for the idea to go moneyless and for supporting me through this process of transitioning from being trapped in the system and slowly freeing myself. I am very grateful for this and I believe that some loyalty from my side is in order to complete this project. So all of this made me decide to finish what I started.
If I would have been unable to find this  particular job, perhaps I would have tried to go moneyless anyway. It is difficult to say in hindsight. It may have seemed more difficult with the old mindset of not feeling good enough and being so focused on the need to find a job and to be part of society and to ‘contribute’ in the traditional sense of the word. Having said that, others have shown that this way is also possible. But perhaps it is reassuring to know that you don't have to take the plunge right away, and that you can make small changes on this journey and still reach the same destination. I think this makes moneyless living appear much more attainable to many people. For most people, it is much easier to oversee one change at a time than to just changing everything overnight.
You don't have to give up everything right away. You can work your way towards it and just let go whenever you are ready. In the meantime you can just work on preparing yourself.

8. What do you do for fun?
When you follow your passions in life you will notice you don’t need so much ‘fun’ anymore, because your life is already fun and joyful. Fun can be an escape people need when they take life too seriously too much of the time, or when they don't want to face the reality of their lives somehow. However, fun and enjoyment of life is important and I did write a post on how to do certain things that most would consider fun. Read more about things to do for fun here.

9. What will you do with all that money you have saved while living moneyless and also earning a salary?
At the start of the challenge, the plan was to save up a lot of money and then buy some land in France or Spain (or somewhere else with a good climate) to start an ecofarm or even a small ecovillage, where I could grow my own food and live a happy, peaceful life, enjoying nature and all it has to offer. But now I am not so sure what I will do. If I buy land, then it brings more worries into my life and it is putting me back into the system that I have learned to reject and have come to detest (the money-grid), as having land means having to pay property taxes in most countries (yes, there are exceptions). And that means I am yet again no longer 100% free. At the same time I also have the urge to settle down after so much moving around and living a ‘rootless’ kind of life (although definitely not in Norway as I find the cold and dark winters absolutely unbearable).
So I am not sure what I will do. Perhaps I will live the nomadic, moneyless life for a while and travel from Norway to Spain on a horse or hiking, and then I can just see where the road takes me. I can see what I find and if I find a beautiful location where I want to settle, I can do that with or without buying land. Perhaps there is some land that is not used where I can live. It is hard to predict this kind of stuff. We will see what the universe has in store for me. I am sure that I will know what to do once the time comes. In the meantime, as always, it is good to have options. Freedom is mostly about creating options.

10. What if everyone would live like you? Would society as we know it still exist? Would we still have the comforts we have today?
Many people seem to worry that if everyone would live like this, there would be a lot they have to ‘give up’. Of course it is difficult to imagine what a moneyless world would look like now, because we have made a lot of technical advancements since the stone age (and understandably, not everyone wants to go back to that). I do know that when we all live moneyless, a few things will start to happen:
1. We would all have a lot more time, because none of us would need to work anymore.
2. Our collective environmental footprint will be reduced significantly, because a lot of damage is done in the name of employment (‘just doing my job’), profit and (economic) growth (things some like to call ‘progress’).
3. Everyone will take responsibility for their basic needs, which means that everyone will invest time in learning how to grow their own food and purify water. Cities will probably be rebuilt to be more sustainable; more in line with keeping water, air and food clean and accessible. People will do this voluntarily (without payment) because they have the time and it is their home.
4. People will uphold and maintain societal structures they deem important, such as health care. So a moneyless society will demonstrate what people think is important and where efforts should be directed. I imagine that structures like the military will disappear almost instantly, as they benefit no one when money is no longer involved. So will politics and other unnecessary societal structures. I imagine that things like education (mainly of survival and other self-help/life skills), the arts and health services will flourish.
5. Natural resources will once again be valued, protected and cherished rather than exploited and depleted for all they are worth.

11. But what about things that are mass produced? Will we still be able to have things like computers and such?
Many people who believe in a moneyless world fail to take action because they fear that they have to make (big) sacrifices. This is not the case. In my case, I have not had to sacrifice anything. I have my own little home on a farm with plenty of space, I have access to enough food to feed several families and I have all the stuff that I need and more (I am still downsizing even though I didn't have that much to begin with). Each time I simplify my life more or get rid of more stuff, it feels liberating (and not like a loss or sacrifice at all).
But what if we would all live this way? Would I still have the computer that I am using to type?
Well, if the answer would be no, then does that mean that ‘slave labor’ is the price for our luxuries? Or at least the fear of losing those things is keeping us all tied to the current system. Is that worth it? And is it even an option, realistically, for the long term? I’d say no. It is not sustainable and we will destroy the planet this way, probably sooner rather than later. Again, is that worth it? If all is destroyed, would you regret not making changes and taking the chance of perhaps being even happier than you are now? Would you feel like you had done enough to prevent this from happening once major catastrophes start to happen that affect all of us? (And yes, they have already started, but perhaps none of them have affected you personally yet; at least not as far as you realize.)
Although it may not be possible to keep comforts in the form they are in right now when forced labor falls away, I do believe that production of things that people really want and need will still happen even without the use of money, if it is something people value. Perhaps a different kind of product will be invented, from different materials (that are easier to produce on a smaller scale) and one that lasts much longer because then the aim will be sustainability rather than consumerism (for more information on the purposeful speedy expiry of products, see this video (the end of ownership), which explains the basics of a resource based economy.  You can also watch the Story of Stuff (very insightful!), which puts everything in perspective and explains the circular economy. For more about a circular economy see this TED talk by Thomas Rau).
It is impossible to describe with certainty exactly what the future would look like. But the fact remains that what it would look like is totally up to us. We can create the future the way we want it to be, in total freedom. If we miss something, it is our responsibility to (re-)create it; this time in a more sustainable way. If we don’t like something, it is up to us to change it. This new paradigm is the kind of world that stimulates and rewards innovations and initiative, instead of laziness and complacency.
So to come back to the question: is it possible to keep all the luxuries we have right now? The answer is, I don’t know (although the future is in our hands and I do believe that people are capable of creating anything if it is important enough for them, with very limited resources). But let me ask you this: Is it possible to sustain human life without making radical changes to the way we do things? Is the way we live now, collectively, in any way sustainable? And here I know for sure that the answer is no. And that is all I need to know. It makes the above question completely irrelevant.

12. Are you against money? If it were up to you, would you ban money?
At the start of my challenge, I had nothing against money. I was neutral to money. I did not feel the need for others to change. My journey was purely personal. I didn’t see money as good or bad, just as a tool. But now, through my experiences and reflections, I have seen the links between money and so many forms of destruction. And I would like to see humanity move beyond this ancient (and debilitating) construct.
In a world without money, would natural resources get exploited? Would hierarchies exist in the same way as they do now? Would nature be destroyed or protected? Would we live in harmony with nature or go against it? Would we cherish other beings or carelessly drive them to extinction? Would people still work jobs and would they still work the same type of jobs, or would they do something more constructive with their time on earth? Would people live to support the system, or themselves, each other and the earth? When you really get into it, you will see that many things are directly related to money, consumption and our habits of exchange. We can all move beyond it by getting back in touch with nature.
However, I have also come to realize that money is not the cause but rather the consequence of our dysfunctional way of thinking. So banning money would not work: the root cause is in the mind so we need to change (evolve) our way of thinking first and foremost.

13. What if the majority of people just don’t want to risk losing what we have and want to keep things the way they are?
At the very least it would be great to have some part of the world where this type of society could be trialed: one that does not rely on money and that produces everything on a small scale. This gives people who do not believe in money anymore the chance to opt out and it gives people who do not believe in moneyless societies an example of how it could work. I understand if people do not share my ideas. I don’t want to force them to change. But I also do not want to be forced to remain in a system where I don’t belong.
Additionally, as mentioned previously: if we don't start making changes now, the world will be headed for destruction sooner rather than later. I do not want to wait here and watch it happen. I want to do what I can to contribute to a solution before it is too late. Time is running out. Nature doesn't care whether you believe in climate change or not, and while we are debating this and other pointless topics, the window of opportunity is closing.

14. What about healthcare?
Ultimately everyone is responsible for their own health. Yes, some health problems may be caused by genetic makeup, but the majority of health problems stem from the ways we live our lives (not enough nutrients, not enough oxygen/clean air, not enough movement). The current trend of making others responsible for our health does not promote self-care and healthy decisions.
However, as mentioned under question number 10, I believe that health care will still be accessible in a moneyless society. Until we reach that point, we need to learn to support ourselves in the best way possible. Learn about natural medicine and learn about plants. All the cures in the world are out there, and prevention is the best cure of all. That means living a healthy lifestyle with healthy food (foods from the earth) and natural activities (NOT sitting in an office all day).
Most likely, the same system that offers you health care is also making you sick.
Read more about my views on health here.

15. What if you get old/sick/etc?
Well, we all get old and eventually we all die. This is an inescapable fact of life. And so for me it is illogical to sacrifice my freedom for something like health care (which I may never need, and have not needed in a long time). Why would I sacrifice my whole life (and the freedom to live it as I choose) in exchange for something that I may or may not need some time in the future (i.e. health care)? It doesn't make sense.
So yeah, if I get sick I may die, someone may help me, or I may find a natural cure. If I do end up dying, it is called natural selection. It is how nature keeps its populations clean. And when I get old, I die as well. But I will die a free person, and that's what's important.

16. How can I support a moneyless world? How can I best inspire others to change?
Actions are the foundations for change, because they speak louder than words. Words are only a supplement. On top of that it feels better too, because actions are empowering and can redirect and strengthen the energy generated by having a vision. Doing something therefore always beats doing nothing.
When you want others to change, it must start with you. You cannot get others to change first. If you feel and see that change is necessary and possible, then you must take that first step. I sometimes see people out there desperately trying to change the world, but they forget to take those first steps. Instead they try to change the world before they change themselves by trying to convince others to change first. But how can we expect others to change when we are not even willing or ready to do so ourselves? If you are in this situation and find yourself promoting change to others but are not consistently taking the necessary practical steps that are involved, then you have a wonderful opportunity. Obviously something is still holding you back, and it is likely that that very same thing is keeping others from changing too. So if you explore what it is and figure out how to overcome your personal barriers, then you can lead the way for others to follow in your footsteps, even more effectively than if you would have had no barriers to overcome. After all, how can you be a teacher or mentor if you never had to learn anything?
If you fail to walk the talk, nobody will take you seriously and you won't be able to offer anyone any guidelines on how to get started. Also, you might implicitly contribute to the myth that it is okay to talk about the need for change without taking actual action; that talking about it and being offended by the state of the world is a form of taking action. It is not. We need real actions to create lasting, structural change. On the other hand, if you have walked the path yourself, then you can give specific guidelines on how people can get started, and you can demonstrate to the world that change is possible and beneficial (to yourself and to the world). Inspiring real structural and societal change can only come from personal change.
(See also question 1).

This page may be updated if new questions come in or as my views on life (and hence answers to the questions) evolve.

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