Less Is More
Message, meeting, stress. Planning, chaos, stress. Pictures, desire, stress. Consumption, competition, stress.
Our lives are run by the technological gods, manipulating us to crave the approval of our digital pocket idols before taking any decisions (and I say taking rather than making with a very specific intent. In the age of social media and targeted advertisements, how many decisions are really our own?) We are lured in to a cyclical life by delusions of happiness – something that is easily achievable only once we come to the realization that money, success, and happiness are not correlational – and run around the hamster wheel believing that one day things will be different.
My journey through the Himalayas has proven to me that the cookie-cutters society stuffs us into are plastic, malleable, and ultimately breakable. My shift in perspective came from the meditative experience I felt during my trek to Everest Base Camp. Now before you turn away, let me clarify that this is not a spiritual post. I myself never thought I was capable of meditation. Thousands of thoughts are constantly buzzing around in my head, I have no clear focus; but when I was trekking, due to the high altitude and low oxygen, I was required to focus on my breathing, to match my breaths with my steps, and this focus became so strong that it pushed all other thoughts from my head. This wasn’t a conscious action, nor was it anticipated. In fact, I had gone to the mountains with the romantic impression that I would have an overflow of beautiful poems pouring out of my mind, and came back conflicted that poetic thinking itself had become an effort. Days into the journey, after hours and hours of trekking, I caught myself thoughtless. This had never before happened in my life. Every ounce of energy was dedicated to regulating my breath, then moving one foot in front of the other.
This thoughtless experience was incredibly enlightening. I had focus. No thoughts of external pressures crossed my mind; I was 100% attentive to what was in front of me; my companions had my undivided attention. My phone had become nothing more than a point and shoot camera – I no longer felt any attachment to it, nor did I feel the constant desire to glance at it. The world could wait; I was in the presence, the protection, the aura, of the majestic Mount Everest.
Here I furthermore realized that my happiness was stemming from the presence of good company and the liberating bit of knowledge that my entire life’s sustenance was in my backpack. Every single thing I could need was with me: I had food and water, I had shelter, I had love. I was home.
My happiness was not dependent on external factors; I did not need material possessions. No one passed judgement on another trekker’s clothing, or appearance, or wealth. We, trekkers of all ages and nationalities, were all equal.
This experience taught me one very important thing. Less is more. The more storage space we have, the greater the desire becomes to fill it. The bigger our houses are, the more we feel the need to aggregate Stuff. We compete with each other to see who can fill their space with the most and the best Stuff. I may think my neighbor is happy because she has better Stuff, so I join the rat race to buy and try until I find the right Stuff to make me happy. This desire, this need to compete, depletes our happiness. Stuff has gained control over us, and how dare we let it. Stuff is defined as nothing more than useless matter, yet we worship it, throwing its image all over social media so that others can approve of something we may have never wanted in the first place.
The less you have, the happier you will feel. It is liberating. Maybe you don’t believe me, I may have not believed myself ten years ago, so at least give me the chance to convince you.
- The less you have, the less you have to worry about. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. Less stuff equals less stress.
- The less you consume, the more money you save to invest in experiences. Your memory bank is unlimited. What will you do when you run out of physical space for your Stuff?
- Have you ever considered the environmental impacts of Stuff? Production costs go beyond just money. Check out this video for an insight into The Story of Stuff.
Trekking limits the amount of stuff you have, after all, a person can only carry so much physical weight. You are able to experience your own thoughts and emotions rather than the ones force fed to you by social media; and you are able to be present in the moment – something that is extremely difficult in modern society.
My realizations have taken years, so I don’t expect anyone else to accept my thoughts overnight, but let’s start small and give this concept of de-cluttering and minimalism a chance; let’s declutter our minds. We shouldn’t feel like we are missing something when we leave the house without our phones. I encourage you to go for a walk without your phone and see if you notice a difference in your mental state. Does your awareness change? Do you become attentive to things you may have not noticed before? How does the presence or absence of your phone affect you? Comment below and share your experience!