Learning to Live with Less

Sound advice

Many people get caught up in the accumulation trap. From the day they enter the workforce it is a nonstop game of getting all you can. Money, houses, cars, clothes, you name it and people want it. The media culture we live in is constantly bombarding us with messages of buy this and be happy, buy this and seduce that beautiful woman, buy this and your kids will love you. Buy. Buy. Buy.

However, sooner or later these people realize that the more they own, the emptier they feel. Playing a game you can’t win, like keeping up with the Jones’, is a rat race trap that only leads to misery and in some cases bankruptcy. Instead of focusing on our own lives and what really makes us happy, we worry too much about what kind of car our coworkers drive, or who in the neighborhood just put a pool in. The need to accumulate can make many people feel depressed, inadequate and just plain sad.

Today, though, there is a strong movement to live with less. People who are spending time getting in touch with their spiritual side are also learning that not clinging to possessions and running ragged to get the latest Mercedes or 80” plasma TV is like having a tremendous weight lifted. They also come to learn that the less they have, the less they have to worry about. If the saying is true, more money more problems, then the reverse must also be true, less money less problems.

It can be hard at first to adapt to this new thinking. From the get go we are taught that capitalism is the best economic system and the only way to be happy is to be rich and successful. Advertising won’t let us escape the message of “buy to win”.  It takes a strong man or woman to break free from this message and believe deep down inside that they can be happy without a $70,000 car, a vacation home in the Berkshires and a watch that costs more than most compact cars.

But when you cut yourself from the accumulation leash you will notice a feeling of freedom. No longer do you feel the need to compete with people you don’t even know. The stress of making more money to buy more junk slowly starts to fade. You find yourself sleeping better and feeling more relaxed because your mind is no longer fixated on having everything.

Learning to live with less is an important step in the path to self-discovery. When we break free from the race to accumulate as much as possible we learn that we can actually live a pretty happy life with much less than we thought.

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