It is easier to live a life which is filled with the same “things” and aspirations everyone around you has. Simply put most of us are focused on buying those assets which the society deems as a sign of progress and associates it with a higher status. This could be because as humans we want to have a sense of belonging by conforming with the society’s standards.
These “things” however are mostly materialistic like buying fashion clothing, new phones, expensive cars, lavish houses, eating at high-priced restaurants and spending at pretty much anything which is “in trend”. It’s not wrong for people to have these indulgences or a desire to buy things. However, I think we buy them to feel happy. But the idea that these things can give you true happiness or fulfilment is pretty much flawed. We think it makes us happy but it really doesn’t.
For example it’s common for people in their 20’s and 30’s to go out and buy a nice car which they can’t fully afford. Yes, it makes them happy for a second but then comes the monthly payments, insurance, maintenance, accelerated depreciation and not to mention the second job they need to take on to keep up with these payments. This is just one of the examples, I have seen people go bankrupt trying to keep up with their lifestyle and indulgences instead of toning it down and living with basic necessities. What good is a lifestyle if it brings you back to square one or even worse?
I love this quote from Jim Carrey which encapsulates this aspect nicely —
I think everybody should get rich, famous and have everything they ever dreamed of, so they know that it’s not the answer.
The idea is to live with less or rather ‘a little less’. One of the indirect benefits of leading a minimalist life is that one comes really close to finding the answer. Because when you live a modest life you do not feel content with buying unnecessary things, making tons of money etc., which is why you are able to find what truly makes you happy and fulfilled. However as you might already know living with less is way harder than living with more.
Minimalistic lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean to live with less than 25, 50 or 100 things around you. Such definitions are extreme and probably not feasible in today’s world. Minimalism could mean to live with the basic necessities — a roof, food, clothes and internet. It means not to upgrade your lifestyle when there is an uptick in your income. Of course, it doesn’t mean you can’t have ambition but it may be counter productive if it’s directly linked to materialistic things and those not needed “things” I mentioned earlier. Living with less is about trying to find a balance between things you need vs. thing you don’t.
Every person has at least one indulgence and it is acceptable to spend on it once in a while. It could be travelling to new places, trying different cuisines, mastering adventure sports or signing up for fitness programs. For me it is travelling as it allows me to explore places I have never seen and learn new things. However it’s important to find the equilibrium and not go overboard on either end.
The Golden Rule
Train your mind to have control over temporary desires
Living with less comes down to one thing, the ability to filter desires from needs. It’s a very thin line but when I was growing up I was able to distinguish one from the other irrespective of the noise around which promoted otherwise. Today the desires vs needs thought process has become my default.
From buying an expensive TV, gaming console to a first class airfare or an impulse driven shopping spree, when you buy anything just ask yourself these questions —
Do I really need this?
Can’t I make do without this?
Would I still need this as much 5 years from now?
If the answer is yes to all these questions then it maybe wise to make the purchase. However, I can bet that half of your regrettable purchases will be cut down by a minimum of 50% if you can ask these simple questions to yourself. Not just that but many other good things will come of it —
- Doing this simple exercise will allow you to head towards minimalism and truly be content with less
- Embedding this thought process in your children (when they’re impressionable) and loved ones will allow them to see clearly and not feel pressurized or compelled to buy things they don’t need
- You won’t have a mental breakdown because you won’t have to downgrade your lifestyle if you are out of a job or face financial setbacks
- Lastly and most importantly it frees you from the common desires of the world which allows you to see what you really want from life and find your purpose.
“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness”
- Albert Einstein
Feel free to share about how living with less has benefitted you in life. Happy Living (with less)!