The world for many of us has become glaringly complex. We have specialized machines for every daily task we face, like the forty-two options for making juice or a smoothie or a juice smoothie. There are individual apps for everything from driving to work to ordering lunch to choosing a matching outfit. Despite, or in fact due to, all the technological advancements, our list of needs seems to be growing at nearly the same rate as our “conveniences” multiply.
However, the reality of our current situation as to how this constant growth of demand and supply strains our planet’s natural resources proves that we the need to move towards more self-sustainable lifestyles. Seriously, at current rates, were using one and a half earths worth of resources. In order to reduce our collective impact, we have to use less.
Normally, we speak of this in terms of less energy, less water, and less packaging, but it also applies to how we go about conducting ourselves everyday. We need to reverse the trend of adding requirements and revert to minimizing our needs.
For those who want to live with less, the primary way to get there is to get simple, and in fact, the two are directly related. The more we have to take care of and maintain and clean and pay for, the more we have to do and schedule and think about and plan for, well, that’s what’s going to make life complicated. It’s going to be what causes us stress, distracts us from what’s really important and, ultimately, creates the need for even more and more to schedule or need.
Simplify life to basics. Then, you can live with less.
For those who are trying to move from a heavily laden existence to a more minimal one, that’ll mean making some serious reductions in both what we do and what we have. Often our schedules are so busy because we have created our own overbearing to-do lists, so to have less to do, we must weed out what is in excess. The same holds true for possessions, which each come with their own responsibilities, whether that’s cleaning them weekly, checking them daily, or finding a place to store them for years.
Reduce life to what actually matters. Then, you can live with less.
With a reduction in that which is not truly necessary, we can revisit our ability to improvise with what we have. There are 2,432 ways to prepare potatoes, none of which require a special set of devices for making microwave oven potato chips. It sounds a bit old-fashioned and undermining perhaps, but “back in my day,” we could manage with the knife, cookie sheet, and oven already in the kitchen. In other words, there is almost always a way to do what we want if we are willing to use a little ingenuity rather than specialized equipment. Everything is multi-functional.
Improvise a way. Then, you can live with less.
A painting bought on that backpacking trip, a necklace so-and-so gave you, or a collection of ceramic bears from childhood… Whatever they are, we often hold onto things that evoke memories instead of the celebrating the memories themselves. Which is more relevant? While a few keepsakes don’t cause a problem, do it for a few years and a lifetime of different memories and life gets cluttered. Once again, we are attaching significance to far too many things. Better to hold on to what is practical and remember what is memorable.
Be practical about inanimate objects. Then, you can live with less.
The world is often quick to claim us these days. Before we even finish school, we find ourselves in debt, needing to work long hours and tie our lives down to specific well-paying jobs or sensible choices in housing. Then, we need a car for commuting, appropriate (often entirely different) clothing for the job, therapy to deal with it all, and from there everything just snowballs. Without freedom, we accumulate more and more to make ourselves feel fulfilled. But, with freedom, we can pursue happiness rather than trap ourselves into trying to buy it.
Free yourself. Then, you can live with less.
It all sounds theoretical so far. The point is to be anything but. For those who want to live with less, it means actively pursuing doing so. Be systematic. Find something new to remove from your schedule every week. Get rid of one possession from your home every day. With less and less, it’s easier to do away with more and more.
Ultimately, the most essential thing for living with less is the willingness to do it.