I think our society encourages the idea of living large, meaning to have nice cars, homes, jewelry, and party like there’s no tomorrow. Get yourself a boat, a motorcycle, snowmobile, take vacations, just live large. Isn’t that what an awesome life is all about?
I must admit that I have fallen subject to this type of thinking myself for most of my life. Grabbing for the brass ring so to speak. And while I have enjoyed so many of these joys and successes in my life, they have all come with a price far beyond the monetary cost. Living large for most of my life has brought me a great deal of responsibility, stress and loss. Peace has never been something that I could ever buy. And I do not believe there is ever any amount of money or goods that can satisfy that goal of a peaceful and contented life. All of which has brought me to the conclusion that a happy life actually comes from living small.
So what does living small actually look like?
It’s not living on the street or in a cave somewhere, but living within your means. And this can look very different for each of us, depending on our personal circumstances. But always with the idea that less is more. Less “stuff” means less stress. Learning to see clearly the difference between wants and needs. And while there is nothing wrong with wanting things, it is mindfulness that can allow us to differentiate this from an actual need. Mindful that whatever we want will not add to our peace at all. Just a momentary pause can be all that’s needed to ask ourself “do I need this?”. If answered honestly, you might be surprised at just how often the answer is no. Understanding that “need” is what is required to sustain a life. Things like food, water, shelter, and medical care are always in the “need” category. Most everything else likely falls under the “want” status.
As simple as this may sound, most of us, myself included, can easily be convinced of so many other things being a need instead of a want. This is the delusion of our society, a mass psychosis if you will. Being surrounded by so many neighbors, friends and relatives that have so very much, we delude ourselves into believing that much more is required for the basics of life. Things like special body washes, conditioners, creams, hair spray, iPads and iPhones. The list is almost endless when it comes to “wants” that we all seem to think are basic needs for life.
And don’t you wonder how you could possibly live your life without access to Facebook or Twitter? Even better, what would you do without email!
But we all know that the World has survived just fine for a long time prior to all of these things. Yet the mass delirium is rampant in today’s society. And we each fall prey to thinking that so much is needed for survival, yet so much of it is actually completely unnecessary.
Again, I have to clarify that I do not wish to live in a cave or the forest, nor do I suggest that you should either. Only that each of us take a closer look at our lives and see if we can live more mindfully. With more respect and compassion to each other and our planet, and all those beings whom we share this planet with. Everything we do, everything we purchase and consume, effects not only our own peace and contentment, but also the peace or absence of peace for so many other living beings. This is what complete awareness brings us, and what we can develop with our practice every day. Mindfulness that takes us beyond any illusions, and shines light and clarity on the difference between wants and needs.