…the improvement of ages have had but little influence on the essential laws of man’s existence.
Modern society trains us to believe that our needs are extravagant.
There are of course the “essentials:” a roof over our head, a car in the garage and food on our plate. Health insurance, home insurance, life insurance. Money for the kids’ education. An internet connection, a hot shower in the morning, cable TV, your iPhone.
In reality, only two of the above are essential, at least in the most literal definition of the word. That much should be obvious, yet we have been brainwashed to believe that our needs are complex and varied.
If you were to distill a human’s physical requirements down to their absolute basics, you would be left with nothing other than sufficient food and shelter. Everything on top of that is a luxury, but perversely, it is often those “luxuries” that corral us into a way of living that we eventually strive to escape from.
Humankind’s purpose in life does not have to characterized by an ongoing struggle for more. While I am not suggesting that you head out into the woods, build a cabin and subsist on the land alone à la Thoreau, you would invariably benefit from a reassessment of what you think you need versus what you really need.
This may require a radical change in your thought process and a reevaluation of what it is in life that you value, but to open your mind to the often transient nature of money (it’s in your wallet, it’s used to purchase an inessential, it’s gone forever) can help you to appreciate that it should not exert such a heavy influence on your life.
At the end of the day, we all have bills to pay. We all have financial commitments. Nonetheless, we only have two basic physical needs. Everything else is inessential, no matter how valuable it may seem to you.
If you do nothing other than embrace the inessentiality of modern living and endeavor to release yourself from the the desire for more (and perhaps even embrace the notion of having less), you will instantly become closer to leaving work behind than you were before.
We would all do well to think more like Thoreau, lest we forget entirely the reality of our existence.
Photo Credit: Robert Linder