One of my secret tricks to figure out what activities are really worthwhile in life, is to look back to the Original and Ultimate Mustachians of this continent – the Native Americans.
These were a people who lived together in a very rich culture which was based entirely on their natural environment. The animals and plants and the weather became gods and spirits to them, and their religion served as a guide to practical living in a way that kept everyone healthy, including the surrounding ecosystem.
They felt respect for the animals they killed and used every available part for food, clothing, housing, and tools. This common understanding of their Earth gave the people something healthy to focus on, and allowed them to prosper for thousands of years while leaving a very light footprint.
While I rarely wear a loincloth myself these days, I still think there is much to be learned from the original way of life. These people were BAD ASS, for starters. Imagine being physically fit and with extreme physical skills you put into use every day. Like running for eight hours while tracking prey, shooting an arrow from a bow you made yourself to fatally hit a moving bear in the EYE and bring it down before it escapes or eats you. Or inventing ways to get you and your tribe through a Rocky Mountain winter using only things you harvested from the land with your own hands.
And then there was the music and dancing. This was an actual part of the community – men, women, and kids ALL singing and making some truly funky beats around the fire, way more often than we get to do it these days, unless you’re lucky enough to be in a band.
Badassity has its own rewards – becoming truly great at something difficult brings a deep happiness that Cable TV can never match. When you cultivate a real physical or mental skill, it becomes one of the burning coals in your soul, or a glowing golden strand in your Mustache, one of the things that defines who you are and gives you confidence that you can accomplish other difficult things. Instead of running from challenge, or spending money to avoid it, you actually enjoy and embrace challenge more and more. This becomes a virtuous circle and you gain even more confidence. Thus, it can be said that Badassity is Happiness itself. And Happiness is the real point of Mr. Money Mustache himself.
The Natives knew how to have a rich and healthy life while buying Nothing for thousands of years. So while you and I are pretty much stuck buying things these days, we can still embrace our inner Badass Native Spirit when making decisions, and start to become a bit more Naked and Muscular about everything we do.
Yes you CAN ride a bike to work, even when it’s winter, because that makes you more Native and thus more happy. You CAN find a new job that’s closer to home, or a new home that’s closer to work. Because that’s effort that makes you stronger and happier – both the effort itself and the rewards that it brings. You can also clean your own house, mow your own lawn with a non-gasoline mower, and lift olympic barbells with your own hands and using knowledge you learned by reading a book with your own eyes. You can trade and barter with other real humans in your community by buying and selling things used, instead of just driving to a store every time you need something. All of this is simply an expression of becoming a more Native-like and Badass person, and to become rich and retire early, you MUST become BADASS.
It takes effort, but the good news is this effort itself is a gift that makes you become happier and sleep more soundly And the Canyon-Filling Money Mustache it brings, as awesome as it is, is only a side benefit.
As you kick more ass over time, tell us all of your accomplishments in the comments!
My understanding is that the trope of the Native Americans living in harmony with the land is part of the Noble Savage stereotype and only partly true. It’s worth doing some research into that. Their impact on the environment was much less than ours because there were fewer of them around and they didn’t have our tech, but they weren’t totally green, either. Natives in many parts of the world have driven species to extinction and slash-and-burned massive amounts of forest.
Plus, of course, there was such enormous variation in tribes’ cultures and beliefs that writing pretty much anything about “Native Americans” other than very wide generalizations is a fool’s errand. :)