Is less more?

It’s strange but sometime when we are searching for something answers come to us in the most unexpected forms. Recently I had a conversation with someone I have known for a long time, he used to be a quite well off lawyer who loved crazy sports, adrenaline filled adventures and pushing himself to the limit. Later, he had a spiritual experience when he was walking down the street, which made him become more spiritual and he became a Buddhist. We were just chatting about our views on life and I found a few things he said to ring true. There was something liberating about his view that all you need is a simple life and enough to get by on in order to be content. Below are some of things we talked about:

  1. Being surrounded by nature is the best place to be content, because the energy of the natural world is comforting rather than the noise and pollution of the city.
  2. You don’t have to chase after crazy new experiences or adventures to be happy. You can be content living just a simple life in the same place.
  3. Buddhists believe that desire is suffering. If we stop desiring things we stop suffering. If we don’t want to achieve this that and the other then we can’t fail and so can’t suffer. Does that mean we shouldn’t have any goals? No we can have goals but our happiness need not depend on achieving them.
  4. Good karma – do good in any way we can and helping others should be the purpose of our lives.
  5. To be fit you don’t have to do high impact sports. Walking, yogic breathing and simple yoga is enough for your body to be flexible and fit.
  6. Eat healthy and preferably vegetarian.
  7. Don’t think too much and enjoy the present moment.

Some of these things I knew, but it was good to be reminded of them and some of them were new to me. For example I always thought having crazy experiences and new adventures is something I couldn’t be happy without. After all what would you look forward to in your everyday life otherwise? But it’s true that focusing too much on what I am going to do can make me lose touch with feeling grateful for everything I do have right now. It’s a problem that I often have, always thinking about the future, worrying or planning or thinking about the past, reminiscing or regretting, rather than being grateful for the present moment, in which there are usually no worries or problems.

Also exercise – I have been guilty of being a bit of an exercise freak in the past, pushing myself to the limit, because it felt good, but mainly I realised that I love pushing myself during exercise so much, because it makes me stop thinking. The physical pain and concentration on the routine takes over my mind and I can only focus on the present moment as the exercise requires all my attention. Not to mention the endorphins. Now I’ve cancelled my gym membership and started walking in my local park which is amazing and I actually feel like I’m in a village and not in London. The nature recharges me and I don’t feel drained like after my usual high powered workout.

I guess what I took from this conversation is that although I don’t want to give up on experiences and goals, I’ve realised that sometimes less can be more and you don’t have to be having a crazy life full of adventures or mega achievements to be happy, but it’s all in how you enjoy the journey and were you are right now, instead of constantly thinking of the next step and where you want to be in the future.

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About Maia

My name is Maia, I live in London, UK, and I originally come from the Czech Republic. Maia's World is my blog where I write about life in general, personal development, and about ideas, beliefs and discoveries on how to live a fuller life.
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4 Responses to Is less more?

  1. Eva says:

    But if you don’t think ahead ,not plan ahead , and you will be happy in the present like all animals do ,you will stand still,not develop or improve yourself and your performance, You would not learn and grow. Than you will not work and you will depend entirely on society or your leaders in believe to look after you – therefore manipulate you. If you take this philosophy to the extreme,

    • Maia says:

      What I meant by this post, is plan ahead, but enjoy every moment of getting to the goal rather than thinking you’ll only be happy when you reach the goal.

  2. Ha, Maia… you beat David from Raptitude to the punch on this, by about a month. It’s funny, because as I was reading his most recent article and then the comments after making my comment, I noticed yours, which brought me here, and in my comments I had said much of what your post here expresses. I’ll repost my comments here for any that might not go to Raptitude or if they’re reading this later….

    The logical and highly simplistic explanation that most of modern humanity tends to follow is that more is better, and according to that we should be accumulating increased amounts in order to derive greater satisfaction. Such is one of the great illusions of life.

    Somewhere the notion of diminishing returns didn’t get factored in by people in too much of an energizing rush to notice. Conversely, he that first loses his life shall find it… anyone?

    A possible intriguing follow-up to this concept later on is the process for training oneself to appreciate more what is already there, while still balancing that with proper ambition to stretch farther. If we could develop true discipline, I believe we each have the capacity within us to derive even greater satisfaction than we are experiencing without the need to accumulate or attach it to possessions.

    We have to unlearn the mistaken notion marketers have trained us on, which is that your joy is attached to continually upping the ante. Perhaps we could instead be “lowering the anti-”.

    (Epilogue: I loved those seven points you listed. Nature is where you can truly clear your mind and feel energized. And #2, about crazy experiences, that’s always been one that’s puzzled me. People often say they get bored and have to “go do something” or “travel somewhere,” but typically where you already are has just as much as where you’re going, and it’s not necessarily the location anyway. You don’t usually have to go very far to reach nature. As for #3, that one is very intriguing to me, and I hadn’t thought in those terms before. But I can see that how our desires often defy us and take us to enticing places that turn out to be hollow or dead ends. This suggests that at least most desires are deceptive, a la false advertising.

    The idea of less being more is a very interesting topic to me, one that I’ve been recently mulling over and contemplating writing about. Kudos to you for furthering the conversation. I think there’s a lot that could be explored about it, and this is a very good start.)

    • Maia says:

      Thanks for the comment Rusty, I’m glad you could relate to the post and that you liked it!
      Will look forward to what you write about the topic.

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