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  • Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable,

  • but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.

  • With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre

  • life than the poor.

  • Henry David Thoreau

  • Can we be happier by consuming less?

  • Well, many philosophers argued that a simple life is much more fulfilling than being immersed

  • in luxury.

  • By consuming less, we save money, we save energy, and, we also save the most valuable

  • asset we have as human beings, which is time.

  • This not only allows us to experience the joys of simplicity; it's also an act of

  • rebellion against our consumerist society.

  • Let's talk about this.

  • We buy stuff that we actually don't need, depriving ourselves of hard-earned resources

  • (even going into debt), only to further enrich an already wealthy minority.

  • It seems that many people aren't aware of the societal brainwashing that's going on,

  • planting a perpetual 'sense of lack' in our minds.

  • In other words, the nagging feeling that we aren't complete, unless...x, y, and z.

  • Even though the consumerist society reigns supreme in all corners of the world, the human

  • tendency to purchase more than needed has been subject to criticism for many ages.

  • Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher who, at one point, began to pursue a simple

  • and self-sufficient life by retreating into the woods near Walden Pond.

  • He lived there in a self-built cabin for a period of two years and two months.

  • This life-decision was an act of resistance against society, and part of, what he called,

  • 'civil disobedience'.

  • Thoreau described civil disobedience as a form of non-violent rebellion against the

  • government.

  • In his opinion, the government brings people more harm than good.

  • In his seclusion, he wrote his masterpiece 'Walden', in which he, among other things,

  • describes the joys of a simple life in the midst of nature, and how he manages to survive

  • with very little.

  • As he states and I quote:

  • ..a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.

  • End quote.

  • Needless to say, in his solitude and through his simple lifestyle, Thoreau feltwholesome

  • which only further supports his criticism of overconsumption.

  • Admittingly, we need to consume to some extent.

  • Some things are necessary, like food and shelter, but these are relatively easy to obtain and

  • easy to satisfy.

  • I quote Epicurus on this one:

  • The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required

  • by vain ideals extends to infinity.

  • End quote.

  • So, what then, drives people to work overtime in jobs that they don't like, so they can

  • buy more than they actually need?

  • Well, most people are easily influenced by their environment.

  • Trends, fashion, a guy's name on their underwear

  • Even though we don't need those things, companies repeatedly succeed to convince us

  • otherwise.

  • We can feel utterly content in one moment, but experience a sense of lack in the next,

  • because of the many voices that tell us that we need this, and that, just to conform to

  • the rest of the herd.

  • Or even worse: just so that people won't look down on us and ignore us.

  • I quote Stoic philosopher Seneca:

  • What fools these mortals be!

  • They allow the cheapest and most useless things, which can easily be replaced, to be charged

  • in the reckoning, after they have acquired them; but they never regard themselves as

  • in debt when they have received some of that precious commodity, – time!

  • And yet time is the one loan which even a grateful recipient cannot repay.

  • End quote.

  • Time is our most valuable asset, and it's running out as we speak.

  • We can exchange time for money, but we cannot exchange money for time.

  • Yet, we waste our lives in the pursuit of keeping up with the Joneses.

  • Or as Fight Club's main character Tyler Durden states: “...working jobs we hate

  • so we can buy shit we don't need.”

  • The consequence (and I paraphrase Durden here) is that the stuff you own ends up owning you.

  • It becomes a burden, a deadweight, something that costs us more than it brings us.

  • So, what does it bring us?

  • Status, respect, praise, short-term pleasure?

  • These things are completely beyond our control and unnecessary for experiencing contentment.

  • Now, the voices that tell us to consume, aren't really the problem.

  • These are external forces that are not up to us.

  • The problem lies in us allowing ourselves to be manipulated.

  • The root of this weakness lies in fear.

  • Alain de Botton describes a phenomenon of modern society called 'status anxiety'

  • as, and I quote, “the constant tension or fear of being perceived as 'unsuccessful'

  • by the society in materialistic terms.”

  • End quote.

  • So, what's the solution?

  • First of all, I'd say: care less about what other people think.

  • Friends that only accept you because of your status and material success aren't really

  • friends, and there's nothing to be gained by impressing people that you don't even

  • know, just for the sake of impressing them.

  • Are people ridiculing us because we don't measure up to their definition of success?

  • Well, that's their business; not ours.

  • Once we accept that our wholeness does not depend on material success, we can truly enjoy

  • the richness of a simple life.

  • As Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching once wrote: “those who know they have enough

  • are truly wealthy.”

  • End quote.

  • A simple life doesn't mean that we should ascetically renounce everything material.

  • Besides the basic necessities, there's value in things that serve us in the practical sense.

  • Ours is the ability to discern between necessity, practicality, and luxury, so we prevent ourselves

  • to become prisoners of our possessions.

  • Being content with little is the ultimate civil disobedience in modern times.

  • It loosens the grip that society has over us, by not needing what they have to offer

  • in exchange for our time and labor.

  • By owning and needing less, our existence becomes less complicated and less stressful.

  • A life of simplicity grants us the space to truly enjoy the time that's given to us,

  • to spend our time on what we deem as important, and to be in the moment which doesn't require

  • anything more than our attention.

  • As Thoreau states, and I quote:

  • Our life is frittered away by detailsimplify, simplify!

  • Thank you for watching.

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable,

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讓哲學告訴你:更簡單的生活、更美好的人生 (Simplify, Simplify | A Philosophy of Needing Less)

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    jeremy.wang   發佈於 2020 年 03 月 30 日
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