Monkey Traps

Summary: “The most important element of a money trap is the monkey.”

There are several versions of the story about monkey traps. I don’t even know if the stories are true, but they are insightful and all have one thing in common. The monkey gets his hand in a tight place, such as a jar, vase, or coconut and can’t seem to figure out how to get it out. He’s trapped!

As one story goes, hunters cut a small hole or slit in a coconut and fill it with grain. The hole is just big enough for the monkey to get his hand in, but not big enough to get his hand filled with grain out. As the hunters approach, the monkey desperately tries to get his fist out of the coconut, but can’t seem to understand that gaining his freedom is simply a matter of letting go of the grain, opening his hand, and pulling it out.

Of course, the most important element of the monkey trap is the monkey. The trap will not work without the monkey’s full cooperation.

When you hear this story about how hunters trap monkeys, you may think that monkeys are incredibly stupid! However, before you go too far down that path, substitute the phrase “many humans” for “monkeys” and “corporate perks, titles, large mortgages, expensive car payments and other such things” for the word “grain.” As it turns out, many humans behave much like monkeys.

All the above things are fine if they are not trapping you in some way and keeping you from joyfully participating in life. If they are serving as traps…stop thinking and acting like a monkey. Use some of the time, effort, and money you are spending on these things to purchase something more valuable – your freedom and autonomy.

For example, if your expenses (housing, car, food, etc.) average $4,000 per month, that means every time you save $132 and put it away for a rainy day, you have purchased one day of freedom ($48,000 per year/365 days). Keep this up until you have purchased at least a year of freedom and you will always have a lot of flexibility to deal with planned or unforeseen circumstances. For example, it means you do not have to stay in a job you don’t like, you can handle an extended period of unexpected unemployment, you can take a planned sabbatical, you can basically do whatever you’d like for at least a year.

Living below your means with your ego in check solves a tremendous number of problems. It can keep you out of life’s ubiquitous monkey traps.

Joyfully participate in life today…Chris

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