How to Embrace the Way of Less
An idea from Danny Forest.
The following is an article taken from the first edition of our brand new print magazine. To get your hands on a copy, filled with original content from some of the world’s bestselling authors, follow this link and use the code ‘SUBSCRIBER10’ for 10% off.
In many countries, they simply eat on the ground. I remember this shocking me at first. ‘They have a couch, surely they can afford a table with chairs,’ I thought. But I was ignorant. It wasn’t about money; it was about a culture of simplicity.
They didn’t need the table. Who invented the need for a table, anyway? We also saw people eat very simple things. Toronto, where I used to live, is very much a foodie city, not unlike New York, Los Angeles, and London, for example. The rest of the eastern world didn’t work that way. You eat rice for every meal. Maybe some noodles. Who cares about the plating and oversized portions? It was simple, and it was great. A few effective spices, portions just enough to satisfy your body, and a good dose of love — that was the recipe for success with those meals.
Ultimately, I had nothing, and I was happier than I had ever been. We ended up coming back to our jobs a year after leaving, simply because we needed the money after traveling for a year. We moved into an apartment and bought nothing, and ate on the ground. We got all our food from Chinatown, using one pot and pan to cook Asian dishes for pretty much every meal. Our cooking utensils consisted of chopsticks.
Our friends in Toronto thought we were nuts. I guess they were right. But guess who wasn’t stressed from what we call first-world problems? That’s right — my wife and I. I lived in the most high-paced, stressful city in Canada, and I had never felt more zen. I was happy. At least, at first.
But then the material world around me crushed me. Where was my simple food at restaurants? Why were people spending so much money on materialistic things while people are starving in other parts of the world?
My transformation was complete. I was officially not a materialistic hoarder anymore, but a selfless, simple man. Because of that, I couldn’t stay in the world I currently lived in. On November 11, 2016, a few months after coming back from our travels, my wife and I were sitting at a pub. Over a pint of Smithwick’s, I asked my wife, ‘Do you want to leave again?’ We both missed the simple life. To my surprise, she said yes.
We left in June 2017 to officially become nomads. She worked for Doctors Without Borders, and I worked on my business remotely. We’ve lived in Cambodia, Spain, India, and Colombia. Every time we moved, I’d carry the same 33-liter backpack I used to travel the world earlier.
This backpack is my bundle of joy. It’s my reminder that all you need in life can fit in a backpack. This removes a massive weight on your shoulders, quite literally.
Life is simple, so why over complicate it? Happiness is, as I learned, in the simple things. Embrace the way of less, my friend!