The Essentials of Simplicity, Part 3

Once you have mastered the principle of using all you have and purging, the next aspect you can focus on is wanting less. If you can't train yourself to want less, all of the purging you did in part two is nigh useless. Unfortunately, I think this may also be the hardest of the principles I've talked about so far to learn and implement. Most Americans (and people from the Westernized world in general) have been socialized to never be satisfied with what they have. The focus is always on achieving more, attaining more, more, bigger, more, bigger ad nauseum. Obviously, the focus on progress is not always a negative idea. I'm fully in favor of all the progress mankind has achieved since the beginning of time. I like my computer, the Internet, my affordable clothes and the car I drive. However, at some point each individual needs to decide when they have achieved enough to live the life they desire. The lower that level is, the quicker you can start living a life focused on doing rather than having.

Breaking a lifetime of socialization is hard, so what can you do to take a step toward accepting what you have and wanting less?

  1. Get perspective: The recent earthquake in Haiti is a great time to realize how lucky the vast majority of us are. We all have so much "stuff" that we take for granted it takes massive natural disasters for us to snap out of our mindlessness. Take a look around the world and realize how many people are living with so much less than you.
  2. Make a list of everything you own: This is tied to the idea of getting perspective. Sit down for an hour or two and seriously try to write down everything you own. Even if you try to live a fairly minimalist existence I think you will be surprised with how much you already own. Take your list, read through it a couple times, and then watch some news footage from the earthquake in Haiti. Or spend 10 minutes looking up different aid organizations in Africa. What do you think the people who are living in the streets of Haiti's list might look like?
  3. Get more use out of what you already have: How many of us really know how to use every feature on our digital camera? Are you getting every last bit of use out of everything you own? Take 30 minutes and read through the various owner manuals that you have laying around for all your stuff. Learn how to do something new with something you already have.
  4. Remove temptations: Unsubscribe from promotional emails. Don't look at catalogs that come in the mail. Try to avoid television commercials. All of these advertisements are trying to get you to override your better judgement and get you to part with your hard earned money.

If you can take steps toward wanting less, your life will become simpler. You will spend less money, have less possessions cluttering your home, and you will appreciate what you do have even more.