From time to time I slow down and pay attention to those around me. More often than not I’m blown away by the funny things I notice. There are many ironies in life. Recently, I’ve been overwhelmed with some intriguing question. Why does life become complicated? Do we control how complicated our life becomes? Are we slaves to our thoughts?

After spending several weeks pondering the first question and coming up with many deferent ideas for possible answers, I narrowed it down. I have to say the only person responsible for your life being complicated is you. I don’t mean for you to be offended or feel defensive. I’ll have you know, I complicate my life in the same manner you complicate yours. Its normal and we are all guilty of it. After analyzing this idea and really breaking it down, I realized that more often than not our complicating our life is directly connected to a few factors. These factors apply to everyone. However, how much of an impact each of these factors have in our individual lives may vary. A large contributor to a complicated life is ambition. Ambition is a quality that can be positive and negative depending on who you are and how you see yourself. If you have the desire to have more in life and posses the drive to go after the things you want, ambition can be a good thing. If you allow your ambition to become dominant of your life to the point where it become obsessive, ambition could become an oppressive nightmare.

In my life, I’ve been very fortunate. I was born into a family of much wealth. Having a personal servant as a child had some benefits. Having parents who catered to my every want, was very cool. Living above it all and not having a care in the world was priceless. However, the real lucky break was when my family lost it all. At the age of ten it was very difficult to understand why no one was there to prepare the cloths I would wear. The idea that I had to go to a school and not have my personal tutor come to my home was an adjustment. Moving away from my spacious home several times over until eventually ending up in a small apartment in CA seemed dreadful. However, what I did not realize back then was that my life was going to teach me about many things that I would have missed if these drastic changes did not take place. At an early age I learned that material things are never entirely ours. Money for example, tend to have this funny way of giving us a false sense of ownership. When we have it in our hands, we can’t help but to think we own it and it belongs to us. This idea of ownership provides a false sense of security and stability. In reality money doesn’t belong to anyone. Money just like everything else that is material simply serves a purpose. Think about it for second. Today you have $1000.00 in your savings account and tomorrow your car needs tires and “your money” moves on to the next phase of its path. Therefore, could you say that you ever really owned it? Or would you say, you held it for a designated period of time until it was time for you to give it to someone else? Hm… In my opinion, it is ironic how money provides us with a false sense of security as well as opportunities to take care of the things we need while also depending on us to serve as an intricate part of the transition process. If you think of this idea and apply it to everything that is material in your life, you will understand that we never posses anything. Nothing material is truly ever ours. Losing everything I had at such an early age helped me understand this concept. In addition, it opened my eyes to the idea that we, people, are not what we have. The misconception of ownership often leads us to think our identity is attached to the house we live in, the car we drive, the work we do, the salary we earn etc. This could not be further from the truth. My parents lost everything but they were still my parents and I was still their son. I am the same Alexis today that I was ten years ago and will be the same Alexis I am today in 20 years from now.

Among my many fortunate breaks in life, is the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to meet really wealthy people. I’ve been blessed with the ability to see their life up close and personal. The routine 4 am wake call, fast breakfast, driver outside their penthouse waiting to take them to the office followed by a day filled with hundreds of phone calls, text messages, emails and meetings is the norm for most millionaires. If you are a mover and a shaker and you are making big money, I know you know exactly what I’m talking about. The common and familiar filling at 5pm, realizing that you forgot to eat lunch, the arriving home after 12 hours in the office only to log on to your laptop to continue to work on the numbers for the next fiscal year is the reality of your life. Then there is those amazing weekends where you spend your time planning out your personal taxes and maybe if you’re lucky, you might squeeze in a game of golf while your assistant follows you around the golf course going over your schedule for the following week. I’ve actually met some guys who have to schedule the time they plan on spending with their wife. I wonder how passionate can that be? If this is not your scenario, try to think of someone you know who may live their life this way. In many cases we don’t have to look to such extremes. Many of us know what is like to have your parents miss your football games and recitals because they had client meetings or some kind of dead line at work. Now that you are imagining the life I described ask yourself these questions. Does slavery have to be physical or can it just be mental? Are we slaves to our own ambition? If so, why? There are many millionaires who accumulate so much wealth only to give it away when they die. They never stop to enjoy the wealth they built. Why is that?

Fear… The fear of the unknown drives us to wrap our minds around that false sense of security that material things provide. If we don’t know where our life will take us how do we know we have enough? Will we be ok tomorrow? In addition, you add the fact that somehow in the process we managed to tie our identity to the house, car, cloths and social status we live in and the possibility of losing any of it would destroy us to the core. Who would we be? What would we do? Would we be accepted? Fear fuels our need for more and in the process can in some cases slave us.

Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many young adults. I found it mind blowing how many young adults share the same goal in life. “I want to be a millionaire so that I never have to worry about anything” is such a common statement among young adults. It is borderline scary. We are creating a cookie cutter society driven by the false idea that money cures fear. It’s no wonder why there so many of us out there that find ourselves depressed at 30. Lets look at this for a second. If 10% of the American population control 90% of the wealth in America, nearly 20% of the population live in poverty in America, (America is among the wealthiest countries) this means approximately 70% of our population is struggling to achieve what many would feel is impossible. Remember education and social connections are large contributors to why that 10% control 90% of the wealth. This doesn’t mean it is impossible but a young adult from middle or lower income class America sure have the odds against them when the price for a good education can run anywhere between $1000,000 to $300,000 dollars.

Losing it all was a real blessing. I often times get asked this question. How is it that you are so relaxed about life? You never stress and you’re always happy. In addition, I’ve had many ask or assume I have some kind of trust fund and this is why I’m never stressed. When this occurs, I simply smile and reply… who knows? If you really want to know the secret, I’ll tell you in my brothers words. I’m simply a “Thousandnaire®” I know you will not find that word in the English dictionary. A thousandnaire is the individual who can simply enjoy life for what it is and appreciate the simple things. You are a thousandaire and you did not know it. If you are a millionaire you have many things to worry about. Ambitious people are constantly trying to take the money or things you think you own. Thousandaires don’t have that problem. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy my massages, social life, good cloths and the occasional travel. However, the most pleasant part of my life is the lack of stress. I chose not to let fear drive me into slavery. I chose to be free and with freedom comes real comfort as well as contentment. I consciously work to simplifying my life and my only real quest is to do anything I want to do with no limitations. If I want to travel I plan and work towards it. I don’t worry about the illusion that we call tomorrow because tomorrow doesn’t exist until it gets hear. I simply live today and create a stress free day. The Daly Lama said it best “Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday, was it worth it?”

I invite you to try it. It won’t be easy but I can guaranty it will be worth it. Make it a point today to eliminate one item in your life that causes stress. Do that every day and for every stressful item that you eliminate from your life have a relaxing item replace it. Your neighbors stresses you out, don’t talk to them as much and give yourself ten minutes of quiet instead. Your financially stressed cancel your cable TV and make it a point to relax with your family watching the sunset. You can find a map of stars and play games to see who can find and name the most constellations. These ideas will not only help to relax you but can in some cases strengthen your family’s relationships buy opening lines of communication. My parents played games and talked to me every evening. I was not babysat by cartoons nor was I raised by Nintendo. In part because those luxuries were just not available. However, the lessons learned while talking to my mom for just one hour, I would not trade for a life time of video games. I hope you get the picture. If you don’t and you need more ideas, shoot me a comment and I’ll share more.