When something becomes a need, a requirement, it locks us in. We have to have it, which means we start structuring our lives around it.
What are your requirements, things you can’t do without? For some people, it changes depending on the circumstances: you need a travel pillow on an airplane, a soft bed and nice pillow in order to sleep, music in order to run or do a workout, some alcohol in order to socialize.
What happens if you can’t have these things — does it make you unhappy or stressed out? Is the trip or social occasion or run less enjoyable? What happens when we let go of these needs, and just keep them as a “nice-to-have” option?
The more I focus on living, the less it seems I need.
What does it mean to focus on living? It’s a shift from caring about possessions and status and goals and beautiful things … to caring about actual life. Life includes: taking long walks, creating things, having conversations with friends, snuggling with my girlfriend, playing with my cats, eating simple food, going outside and getting active.
That’s living. Not shopping, or watching TV, or eating loads of greasy and sweet food not for sustenance but pleasure, or being on the Internet, or ordering things online, or trying to get popular. Those things aren’t living – they’re consumerist pastimes that tend to get us caught up in overconsumption and mindlessness.
When I focus on living, all those other fake needs become less important. Why do I need television when I can go outside and explore, or get active, or take a walk with a friend? Why do I need to shop when I already have everything I need – I can spend time with someone or create, and I need very little to do that.
These things I do now — they require almost nothing. I can live, and need little. And needing little but getting lots of satisfaction -- that’s immensely rewarding.
These days, I need nothing but my loved ones, a text editor or a brush, a good book, simple plant-based food, a few clothes for warmth, and the outdoors.