[quote style=”boxed”]“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.” – Linda Breen Pierce[/quote]
Having been brought up by modest means and having a fairly minimalist lifestyle, i’ve had to grow up to really appreciate the simple things in life and that having less is all you need to live a happy life. Yet quite often, i’ve always been made to believe that having more and living in better circumstances would lead to a more fulfilled life.
While i won’t disagree that having abundance leads to choice and comfort. What i can say is that having been in situations where i’ve achieved personal goals and succeeded at tasks, I’ve also become quite saddened and dissatisfied.
Does having more really matter?
Having really thought about this and come to terms with the realities of what really matters to me. I’ve started to realize that acquiring stuff and achieving goals for the sake of achieving them tends to give me even more stress. It no longer makes me fulfilled and reasserts the idea that what i really wanted wasn’t really the solution to my problems.
This is what made me understand the concepts behind happiness and the idea that you can’t possibly get into that state by looking for something.
Being in a modest family. It naturally made me want to achieve in order to fit in with society or to become part of a perceived ‘elite’ group of ‘status junkies’ with more options and stability.
This whole way of thinking soon evaporated the minute i started to see people around me who didn’t look like they were rich, yet were generally living very happy lives.
I questioned it for a very long time. And while i came up with a general idea in my previous post. I also think another idea comes into play –
A person with less means also has less responsibilities.
The more we tend to own, and the more excess baggage we have, the more we have to manage in our lives. When you look at it in context, all of us are quite simple. We all need food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear and basic shelter.
Anything else outside of that are luxury items which some would argue is irrelevant to our overall sense of survival.
Sure we might need a car in order to get from one place to another. We may need a swimming pool in our back garden. Or a big television to give us an added form of visual feedback.
But i honestly think the less you have, the more fulfilling your life will generally be.
For two reasons –
1) It teaches you to appreciate the basics of life.
2) It gets you to start looking for alternative ways to be happy, which generally won’t come from tangible things since you’ll have nothing more than a few items and yourself to find happiness from.
That is why people with less means are generally more happy and self-confident because they’re forced to present themselves to the world in ways which an ordinary person with abundance doesn’t.
So with this in mind. I encourage everyone to simply do 2 things as an experiment…
1) Delay gratification
Spend a week practicing and forcing yourself to not do the things you would normally do that will give you a sense of satisfaction. This might be watching your favorite sitcom, going shopping and impulse buying, or playing video games.
2) Live off very basic means for a whole month
If you own a car, try traveling to work as an example. Or if you’re at home watching television, try cutting down and instead go out and interact with people.
As an added exercise, note down how you felt after every week of doing this and by the end of it, compare your happiness levels from where you are and where you started.
It’s the best way to remind yourself of how basic we actually are as human beings and that it doesn’t take much to really be happy and fulfilled.