(By having less will you ultimately be happier?)
Pictured above is everything that I brought with me on a backpacking trip of unknown length to Europe/Africa. My then bible was a book titled First Time Around The World and one of the chapters was dedicated on how to pack. The basic repeated premise being “pack light”. You’ll never know when you have to rush after a train, climbs six flights of stairs, or run from a pack of wild zebra. If you strip down your current life to the bare essentials you really only need shelter, clothes, food, and water. In my backpack I added a couple modern amenities like my camera, first aid kid, toiletries, swiss army knife, and a book. But pictured above are the only things I brought with me to go on that trip. Once you’ve lived out of a backpack with almost nothing and have visited impoverished third world countries, you realize how little you truly need for survival.
When you begin to focus on the essentials then you question tiny purchases like curtain rod caps, automated dog food dispensers, or the rims for your car tires. These items have their convenience and purpose, but are they truly needed in our world? Almost everything you can find at a Sharper Image or a Skymall catalog is superfluous to our survival.
“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club
There are certain times in your life when you are shown what’s truly important. May it be a trip around the world, a major disaster like a hurricane, or the common denominator for all of us, our deathbed. When you’re lying on your deathbed, I guarantee you will not be thinking “I wish I reupholstered my sofa” or “I wish I bought rims for my tires”. What you will be thinking about is the collective amount of experiences you’ve had in your life, which will rarely have to do with anything tangible. It will be about that sunset you saw from the cliffs of Santorini, or that first date at the museum with your now husband, or that time you watched UCLA beat USC when you were surrounded by Trojan fans. Your life and your favorite memories are linked to experiences. So try to focus your limited disposable income on experiences, instead of anything you can get by waiting in line on Black Friday.
Instead of buying tons of gifts for Christmas how about you and the family just rent a cabin up in Tahoe for the weekend. How about instead of buying your girlfriend an uninspired assortment of hand lotions you take her out to a fancy dinner instead. Or what if you take all that Christmas money you saved and give it to a charity.
As American consumers we easily to get caught up in an endless cycle of renewing desires. That means once we finally get what we’ve been pining for, we then quickly move on to something else we want, never truly appreciating what we already have.
“The things you own, end up owning you” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club
So be sure to “give thanks” for the things you already have and the people in your life. While it’s healthy to want, it’s dangerous to want too much. Especially when right now, you probably already have all the things in the world you need for a happy and fulfilling life.
[Photo: Thirty separately photographed items combined at Johnny Moxie Studios]