Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?” ― Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises)
You’ve just successfully completed a day at the office. But something is missing.
You’ve paid the bills, reduced the house mortgage by 2% and tucked your 3 children into bed. But something is still missing.
You kiss your wife, or husband, good night and sit by the fireplace pondering: “why do I feel that something is missing in my life? I have a wife/husband like everyone else, I have an average paying job like everyone else, I have children, a dog, a modern house, a new car and a mortgage like everyone else … what could possibly be wrong?”
As your heavy, dull eyes drift to the window, a thought begins to dawn in your mind. “That’s just it,” you think slowly, the cobwebs in your stiffened mind beginning to evaporate. “My life is just like everyone else’s. Commonplace. Ordinary. Typical.”
As you rise from your chair lethargically, you decide something extraordinary. You will make something exceptional out of your unexceptional life, even if it’s the last thing you do.
Being Like Everyone Else
If you’re like most people, your life at the moment is most probably bland and stale, like an old piece of bread.
If you fit into the modern norm of society, you probably have a 9-5 job, a few children, a suburban residence and a whole bunch of debt under your belt. You’re also most likely an average income earner, who likes to watch TV, go on Facebook and get takeaway once or twice a week.
Of course, there are a few variations in this modern societal regime, but many people these days tend to follow the same socially acceptable patterns of existence. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing to live like everyone else – certainly, if it suits you and brings you fulfilment, continue as you are by all means.
However, many of us sooner or later, will find ourselves dissatisfied with our average lives and our ordinary ways of doing things. So, if you feel the itch, the itch to do something else, to live elsewhere and to generally find ways to live differently – this article is made for you.
10 Ways to Live Differently
Discovering ways to live differently that actually pique our interest, is an exhilarating yet intimidating experience. We all love the comfort of following paths that have been tried and tested.
You need to have a lot of guts, a lot of willpower and a lot of zest for life to pursue the paths less taken. However, if you have the blood of Gypsies and Lions, or are simply being driven insane by your humdrum life, I suggest you take a close look, and listen, to the following ways of living an extraordinary life.
1. Live in a Tiny House.
Don’t want to pay off a massive mortgage like everyone else? Tiny housing could be the answer to your prayers. Ranging from around 100-400 square feet in size (as opposed to the average house size of about 2600 square feet), tiny housing has gained popularity since the 2007-2010 Global Financial Crisis, and is still gaining momentum. Typical costs of small housing range from $20-50,000. These are the perfect houses for life-simplification and environmental awareness. You may also like to take a look at this fascinating Tiny House Infograph.
2. Become a Wwoofer.
Also known as World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), wwoofing basically entails volunteering on farms around the world in exchange for food and accommodation. Thus, if you’re prepared to put in a bit of hard labour in exchange for a place to sleep, a bite to eat, and some wonderful opportunities to explore the surrounding country, wwoofing is for you. Basically, WWOOF is a loosly organized network of national organizations that helps place willing volunteers in over 99 countries around the world. Duration of stay can be anywhere from a few days, to a few years, with workdays being 5-6 hours long. More information can be found here.
3. Become a Se7en Volunteer.
If you’re passionate about doing something meaningful, and making a difference to the world, becoming a Se7en volunteer provides free and low-cost opportunities to help with a variety of projects worldwide. In many cases, accommodation and meals are provided free of charge, in exchange for assistance. Projects could be anything from helping to transform townhouses to art galleries in Italy, to helping to build orphanages in Kenya. More information can be found here.
4. Become a Minimalist.
Simple question: what is minimalism? If you’re not sure, minimalism basically means throwing away or donating things in your life that clutter your space. Minimalism is a cry against consumerism and promotes meaningful, serene and frugal ways of living. Benefits of minimalism include enhanced mental clarity, financial freedom and increased emotional stability. A great minimalist book is The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.
5. Become a Global Freeloader.
Ignore the negative connotations of “freeloading” – this is actually a legitimate practice with a website and everything. Global freeloaders is an inter-cultural exchange program where members can travel to destinations across the world, and stay for free. However, this community also requires you to host travelers as well. So if you’re interested in saving money while traveling, as well as greeting unique characters into your home, this is for you.
6. Live Self-Sufficiently.
If you like being your own captain, and get a kick out of doing everything yourself, self-sufficient living may be up your alley. Probably the first image we associate self-sufficiency with is the eccentric hermit, or the “dirty” hippy. However, if you want to live a sustainable, purposeful and environmentally friendly existence, you should check out the above video, and also this charming website.
7. Think About House-Swapping.
If you’re wanting a break from suburbia, and are curious to see another side of the world, house-swapping is an excellent alternative to expensive hotel stay. House-swapping can be either temporary, or permanent, and is believed to have developed in the 1950’s. This website is an excellent place to go to find out more.
8. Become a House Caretaker.
Alternatively, if you’re not up to swapping your home, you could take care of a home instead. Also known as house sitting, caretakers are offered opportunities all over the world to take care of, and maintain, houses. For a rent-free lifestyle, this is an interesting occupation to look at. Some opportunities are paying, whilst others are simply work in exchange for free board and lodging arrangements. For exclusive caretaking positions, “The Caretake Gazette” is a good website to look at. Published since 1983, the newsletter costs $29.99 a year for subscription, but has loads of unique opportunities to house-sit every day.
9. Join the Peace Corps.
Id you’re eager to do something humanitarian, joining the Peace Corps will fulfill your dream of volunteering, gaining financial reimbursement and traveling. The Peace Corps, in many cases, provide transport to and from countries, medical and dental coverage, living/household allowances, and even a payment of $7,425 upon completion of a project.
10. Couch Surf.
A strong lust for adventure is needed to be a couch surfer. If you’re lacking money, but overflowing with the desire to travel the world, couch surfing is a viable option. Couch Surfers are a group of people who are willing to open their homes to money-conscious travelers. Travelers using the service are also encouraged to open their own hearts and homes to frugal foreigners (and sometimes locals). A wise amount of caution, as always, must be exercised when staying at a stranger’s house. This is an excellent website for couch surfing enthusiasts.
So, what’s your favourite way of living differently? Please feel free to share any suggestions, stories or comments below!