Society tells us a lot of things that aren’t true: we need a lot of money to achieve anything; to make money you must spend money; money brings us happiness; if we don’t have money, we are powerless. As a result of these messages, we may think of ourselves as helpless, especially if we don’t have a lot of resources to use to our advantage.
Is this really true, though? I don’t believe so, and this is why I’m trying to teach you that your most important resources are within you, no matter your circumstances.
The secret is this: ‘take little, make much’.
It may sound like a small nonsense at first glance, but this is something we were designed to do. We take what we have access to and we change it, transform it, craft it, build it, into something much more useful than it was.
- We take the smallest scraps of our old clothing and turn them into beautiful quilts that continue to keep people warm for many more years.
- We take the leftovers in the fridge and turn them into something tasty to nourish and feed our bodies.
- We take lengths of yarn and make them into warm articles of clothing.
- We take the most basic ingredients and work them into nourishing meals.
- We take the raw materials of a new human being and we nurture and protect and build it until it comes forth as a brand new baby.
- We take small human beings and nurture and protect them until they become independent adults.
- It seems it is in our very natures to fashion the bits and pieces around us into things that we can use, and that provide nourishment, comfort and joy for others.
So the question is, in a society that habitually solves its problems with money, how do we relearn to solve our problems ourselves?
First we must remaster the art of seeing potential in the things that already surround us. We are born with a natural ability to do this, which we see in children all the time. They might set aside packaging from groceries because they see some potential in it. They relish in fresh, clean paper. They get new toys and end up spending more time playing with the boxes they came in than with the toys themselves. To a child, everything is an opportunity to create something.
As we get older, we tend to begin to limit ourselves a lot more. We’re tied up in other pursuits and we lose the habit of creating things. Eventually we begin to take on the message that solving problems requires expenditure. We spend money to purchase solutions created by someone else, and so our ability to see potential in the things we already have is slowly but surely put to sleep. We willingly give away this power in increments; the ability to solve problems using our own resources goes into hibernation.
But, we can awaken our resourcefulness and creativity again by beginning to be more mindful and thinking with the creativity of a child. We can remove dollars from the equation and begin to see potential again.
We must practice creating our own solutions. Right now your standard solution for any practical problem may require a trip to Kmart or your local hardware store, but we must start asking ourselves the right questions. Begin to ask and answer questions for yourself and you will rapidly strengthen your ability to see solutions.
What can I do with this?
How can I create a solution for this problem using resources I already have?
Obviously, we need to have some level of skill in order to be able to make the transformation from little to much. Think of basic cooking, cleaning, art and craft, writing, sewing and home maintenance skills as tools in your tool box. Not so long ago we were taught many of these basic skills before we left our homes as young adults, but this is not how many people parent anymore. The more skills you have, the more empowered you become to make much of whatever little you find.
You may already have some basic art skills, you probably know how to cook, or perhaps you know a craft like crochet or cross stitch. Use whatever skills you currently have as a starting point to increase your skills in general. It’s good to have a well-rounded skill base that allows you to work with all types of materials in a variety of ways.
Learning a new skill does not have to cost you much, if anything. You will find a wealth of information online, at your library, or perhaps by asking friends who know how to do things. I have taught quite a few people how to crochet and knit, for example. For someone who has these skills, it is usually a joy to pass them on to someone else.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of building your skills. Building skills is a part of a full and satisfying life, and it’s a foundational step in creating your independence. Learning to do something new is usually quite fun and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Relying on other people to supply solutions you could provide for yourself robs us of much in terms of productivity and enjoyment.
For maximum productivity, we should ensure that when we’re creating much from little, we are actually beginning with little. It doesn’t make sense (and probably isn’t even feasible for most of us) to spend hundreds of dollars buying new craft supplies in order to ‘create more’. There are some things you may need to buy, but be mindful and make wise decisions. It is not going to pay off to buy a huge list of expensive supplies if you don’t truly need them or will not use them.
It is important to make the switch in mindset from consumer to creator. Remember, your best resources are actually inside you. We need to focus on unlocking those, not trying to excuse unnecessary consumption under the guise of being creative. There’s certainly a balance to be found here and being honest with yourself will help keep you focused.
Learning to make much from little is empowering and can make you money, but it’s about more than that. It is true that we may be able to exchange our creations for currency, and this can be a worthwhile way to make a living, but the benefits expand further. When you are able to create your own solutions, your dependency on money is decreased. Having less need for money increases our freedom. So learning to take little and make much is actually an emancipation of sorts.
I don’t wish to oversimplify or downplay the problems of anyone who feels trapped by the circumstances in which they find themselves. I know the frustration and hopelessness that comes with feeling this way. I just want to encourage you right now that there is power is the four small words, ‘take little, make much’. You simply need to realize that your best resources are inside and that unlocking them is a vital step on your way to freedom.