Did you know that you don’t really need a lot of stuff to live a great life? That’s right! There is a lot of truth to the old saying “The best things in life are free.” Now, you’re probably rolling your eyes and maybe even chuckling regarding this quaint thinking. You might think, “That’s cute, but that doesn’t really apply to me.” Well, open your mind for a second and think about what you actually have.
If you are like the typical American, you are living beyond your means and trying to live a life that you really did not choose. If you think about it, a lot of things that you want originated from someone else. These are manufactured wants. These are manufactured luxuries. If you really want to look at the ideal lifestyle that fits your particular personality and your particular background, you would be surprised at how simple it really is.
In many cases, most Americans would rather have a great time instead of having a lot of stuff. I am not saying that you do not need stuff. I am not saying that you should give up on everything. But I am just saying that you can have a lot more out life by acquiring less or making do with less. This is the essence of the “Less is more” lifestyle.
You have probably heard of the saying before. In many cases this saying is always repeated and it means many things to many people. In many cases, it has become just some sort of buzz phrase among business planning and management professionals. However, there is a lot going for this phrase. A lot of Americans could learn to live a better lifestyle by adopting this phrase.
More than a Zen Buddhist Philosophy
The phrase “Less is more” actually originated in Zen Buddhism. Zen Buddhism emphasizes challenging the mind to a point that it breaks down and the person is basically forged to reach an enlightened state. Spiritual values aside, there is a lot to be gained from wrapping our minds around the concept of “Less is more”. The traditional American conception of progress, of social status and real person-hood is wrapped up in material things. You really cannot blame them. This should not really be a surprise. After all, when people think of the world in material terms and view themselves primarily as consumers, this pushes the economy forward.
This is all well and good. It makes sure that our grocery stores are stocked with a lot of selections. It makes sure that when we go to a department store, the shelves are overflowing with a wide variety of stuff to buy. This is good to a point; but there is a certain point where we lose ourselves in the consumerist mentality. The consumer identity takes over and we no longer look at ourselves as the people spending, but we are the people who spend to become people.
Do you see where I’m coming from? Do you see the problem with this picture? Living a “Less is more” lifestyle transcends its Zen Buddhist origins because it becomes a coping mechanism for living in the here and now.
Properly implementing money saving tips begin with understanding what you have
The basics of living a “Less is more” lifestyle starts with understanding what you have. You have to understand that what you have transcends material goods. In fact, the real things that matter in your life are the things that cannot be replaced such as your capacity for joy, your ability to make friends, your ability to feel happiness, and your ability to love others. By understanding what you have and developing a deep appreciation for it, you can reset a lot of your lifestyle to focus on what really counts.
The good news is, you do not have to be older to appreciate this. As long as you are open-minded, you can appreciate a simpler lifestyle and will not feel deprived. Instead of feeling that your lifestyle went downwards, you are actually taking your lifestyle to a higher level.
Maximizing What You Are Capable Of
You have to remember that what you are capable of doing is very different to what you have. What you are capable of are intangibles. This includes your ability to share, your ability to laugh, your ability to be compassionate and your ability to perceive compassion and love from others. This is not spiritual mumbo-jumbo. This is not emotional feel-good pop psychology. This is an actual coping mechanism that lets you live in the here and now in practical terms.
Which would you rather have? Running after and wasting your time on things that do not really matter or building a life that is worth living? The problem is that the latter option has often been reduced to consumer things. If you turn on the television, the message you get over and over again is that you are not really living if you do not have a lot of stuff. That is a lie.
Instead of maximizing what you have, maximize on what you are capable of. Maximize and polish the intangible things in your life because these are the things you are going to take to your grave. These are the things that people will remember you by. People are not going to remember you based on the amount of money you have. But they will remember you by your kindness, by the laugh you gave them, and by the smile you gave them. Maximize these.
Finding Alternative Uses
A key part of understanding the “Less is more” attitude and lifestyle is to always look for alternatives. The main driver for a consumerist and materialist attitude and personality is that you feel that there is no other alternative. You either have to live a certain lifestyle or you don’t. And if you do not, you feel like you are missing out.
You have to understand that there are many different paths in life. We are all going to end up in the same place. We are all going to die. We just have to enjoy the trip before reaching our ultimate destination. By looking at alternative routes and alternative uses, not just for products, but also for the services and possessions that we have, we become more creative. We tend to live life more in terms of possibilities. This is what’s missing in the typical American consumer mindset.
Stretching Your Assets’ Capabilities
In addition to always looking at alternatives, one key manifestation of this attitude is the ability to stretch your assets’ capabilities. You have to understand that if you are going to look at your material goods as having very fixed capabilities, your only option is to acquire more. Eventually, your house will fill up with your possession, but everything is limited. Focus instead on stretching on the capabilities of everything you acquire so it fits in with your “Less is more” lifestyle.
Make no mistake about it, you have a lot more choice than you give yourself. By opening your mind to a “Less is more” mentality and really making full use of all the capabilities, both tangible and intangible you have been blessed with, you can make serious progress in living a life worth living. Here is a hint: a life really worth living goes beyond material possessions. It goes much higher than social status. Living a life worth living is all about living based on the things that really matter.