What do you actually need less of?

It sounds exhausting, expensive and excessive

We live in a culture of more.

And so, we convince ourselves that we need a lot of things. Our mantra is, well, there is always more out there, so why not acquire it?

When the reality is, we don’t actually need that much. Pretty much everything beyond food, shelter, water, clothing and relationships isn’t really a need, it’s a want. And that’s perfectly fine. Wanting things is good.

But let’s not shit ourselves by pretending that our drive to acquire more and maximize everything is some kind of need. It’s a story that we’ve bought into.

Underhill, the leading retail anthropologist, famously explained that an amateur shopper is somebody who gets pleasure out of the act of acquisition, whereas a professional shopper is someone who takes pride in ownership.

Personally, both of those sound exhausting, expensive and excessive. For me, shopping for anything is the worst. And the fact that retail therapy is a real term is embarrassing. Our culture should be ashamed. Acquiring things, owning stuff, is this really the best we can do? Aren’t there more meaningful uses of our time, money and energy than reveling in the ecstasy of more shit, cataloging the wealth that we have accrued?

And by the way, this is not an argument for minimalism or consumerism or asceticism. It’s far more practical and way less grandiose. This is about being present, being enough, being content and being calm.

In my experience, the more that we puncture the illusion that getting things will save us, the less we realize we need, and the more we can actually enjoy what we have.

Pausch writes this beautiful story about the idea in his bestselling book:

My parents had raised me to recognize that automobiles are there to get you from point a to point b. They are utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status. And so, we don’t need to do cosmetic repairs. We just live with the dents and gashes. We don’t get angry because things we own got hurt. We don’t repair things if they still do what they’re supposed to do. The car still works. Let’s just drive it. Not everything needs to be fixed.

It’s time we rethought our relationship with the idea of more.

Just because we live in a culture of more, doesn’t mean we need to keep ratcheting up everything we do, have, say and be.

It’s time to amend our worship of improvement and learn to bow before the altar of enough.

What do you actually need less of?