He went from spending years in prison to becoming the president of Uruguay. Jose ‘Pepe’ Mujica, now former president of Uruguay, is a remarkable man. When he was elected as the 40th president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica announced that he’ll donate 90 percent of his monthly salary to charities. He refused to move to the presidential palace and stayed in his 2 bedroom farmhouse, where he lives with his wife. He even kept and drove his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.
While his political agenda is debatable, this man has many valuable life lessons to teach us all. Mujica’s concept of life and his personal lifestyle are a rare sight in today’s world. So without further ado, here are seven valuable life lessons we should all learn from Jose ‘Pepe’ Mujica:
1. Find your passions and stay passionate.
“I worked the fields for a living and then dedicated myself to the struggle for change, to improve life in my society.”
Mujica has two main passions: a deep love and connection to nature, and a true desire to improve others’ lives through equality. He is a man of the land and a man of people.
Born in 1935 to a farmer father, it was almost expected that Mujica would fall in love with working in the fields. When he was 13, he became a National Party activist. Later on, he was a leading member of Tupamaros, a guerrilla organization, who opposed the Uruguayan government up to a year before Uruguay’s military regime began. During those years, Mujica was imprisoned several times and spent a total of 13 years in jail. He was freed in 1985, following the restoration of democracy in Uruguay. Mujica went on to form a left-wing political party and became a senator in 1999. Six years later, he became a minister of Agriculture in Uruguay. At the age of 70, Mujica was finally able to combine both of his passions and practice them on a daily basis.
“My goal is to achieve a little less injustice in Uruguay. To help the most vulnerable and to leave behind a political way of thinking.”
In 2009, he won the election to become the president of Uruguay. To serve his goal, Mujica increased the minimum wage in Uruguay by more than 50 percent. He contributed most of his salary to charities, in particular those who supported single mothers. “For me, it’s not a sacrifice. It’s a duty,” he claims. His fight against inequality continued. He passed laws to legalize abortions and gay marriage in his country. He achieved what he always wanted—he gave every single person a chance to live life in their own way.
It teaches us the importance of learning and developing passions from a young age. But that alone is not enough. You have to pursue your passions and stick by them, no matter what. By following his passions, especially through rough times, Mujica was able to live his vision.
2. Do it your own way!
“There’s nothing short term. No victory around the corner.”
Mujica might set a great example for many around the world, yet he was a member of an armed group for years. He admits having robbed banks. “I didn’t rob for myself. I expropriated resources for a struggle,” he said.
So what is the lesson here? Whatever you are pursuing, be it a work of art or a more traditional type of work — there is no right way to do it. All those people you take inspiration from — they all took first steps that no one has ever taken before. They walked in their own path. Yes, they failed a lot, but they succeeded more than they have ever imagined!
Here’s a little example: You want to bake banana muffins. You search for a good recipe that others have followed and recommended. You then follow the steps, by the book. You will probably end up with decent banana muffins, but would they have your own signature? Would they taste like unique banana muffins? Probably not. If you get creative and spice it up — you will get a different result. The first few batches might be disgusting, but eventually, your banana muffins will have a heavenly taste. Most importantly — the muffins will be truly yours. So go ahead — create your own life’s recipe. There is no right and wrong.
3. Be humble
“I have a way of life that I don’t change just because I am a president.”
4. If you do what you love, money is irrelevant
“I live with little. Just what’s necessary. I am not tied down to material things. Why? So I can have more free time. To do what? What I love.”
We live in a world where money seems like the only reward we can get. We value success in terms of fame, power, and money. But the truth is — money is irrelevant when you do what you truly love.
“I earn more than I need, even if it’s not enough for others.”
With 90 percent of his salary donated to charities, Mujica was left with a salary of $775 a month (roughly the average monthly salary in Uruguay). “I can live well with what I have,” he says about his old car and his modest 2 bedroom house.
It’s almost impossible to disconnect from our materialistic way of life. I mean, it must better to have a new BMW. But is it, though? Something is broken, deep inside of us. We are exposed to thousands of commercials a day and we truly believe that consumption is good for us. But if a car is a tool to take you from A to B, then why would you enslave yourself to buy a fancy one? Mujica practiced his self-awareness throughout most of his life, even in prison. He knows that any change in his lifestyle would be a mere distraction.
“when you buy something, you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money.”
If you are reading this and thinking: “well, but it would be nice to have a bigger house or a new car” then I urge you to take time and think about it. Is this thought truly yours? Is it actually meaningful to you, the real you?
Read the rest of this story at where it originally appeared :https://medium.com/swlh/7-valuable-life-lessons-from-the-president-of-uruguay-e91600dcd0fc