Problems Are Good For You!

Many people who live hand-to-mouth are, in fact, very happy. I’m not saying that people should adapt to the dire injustice of extreme poverty — or that I would have ever truly struggled to survive. No, I’ve never experienced what it really means to be destitute. For me it was a choice to live without money. And I thrived!


I always found some form of subsistence: food, water, warmth and shelter. Regardless, I got a chance to see a glimpse of the more permanent happiness that dawns from needing very little. Overcoming challenges every day gave me a feeling of accomplishment. A thrill. It also pushed my boundaries and guaranteed I’m not resting on my laurels but always seeking solutions – not just for myself but to my sisters and brothers worldwide.

Soon I’m going to Benin, one of the poorest countries in our world – if measured by purchasing power parity. I’m eager to learn how the locals live and what do they think of poverty. Still, somehow, the Beninese have found solutions to dramatically increase their life expectancy, even without significant growth in GPD.

FB comparison

Comparison between Benin (B) and Finland (F) 1915–2015 (Source: Gapminder)

Whereas, over the last 100 years, the purchasing power has increased 1134 % in Finland and only 92 % in Benin, our West African brothers and sisters have miraculously extended their life expectancy more than Finns!

How can we explain a whopping 113 % increase in Benin, compared to a meager 62 % in Finland? Could it be that access to basic necessities, security, clean environment and opportunities is, in fact, more important than a thick wallet?

The trickle-down effect might, in fact, be true! But apparently it has nothing to do with GDP growth. Perhaps it’s the advances in education, science and technology that trickles up, down and sideways.

If the Beninese are so witty problem-solvers and Finns have the technology and infrastructure, just imagine what kind of problems we could solve together!

Staying in one place and having a roof over your head gives a nice comforting feeling of safety and security. It also makes life kind of dull and uninteresting. You need to find other ways to feed your creativity and challenge yourself, should I say, artificially.

Hitchhikers, on the other hand, expose themselves to a constant flow of problems. This is just emphasized if you intentionally travel without money. Access to resources and know-how becomes the defining factor for success… and even survival.

Where to sleep uninterrupted? What if it’s going to rain? How to get my blood sugar level up? Where to fill the water bottle? How can I through that muddy field? What’s the best route to place X? What to do with all this extra food — where to find people to eat it?

The ability to throw yourself into a whole new situation, day after day, is definitely a skill they don’t necessarily teach you at school. Sometimes we spoiled Western brats have to step out of our comfort zone to enter the school of life. Problems? They’re good for you!

Pre-order the upcoming eBook “How to live without money” in

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