A Seaman's Quest

One man's search for truth

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Embracing Joy Daily

Embracing an Alternate Lifestyle

I grew up in a culture that was obsessed with success.  I found myself chanting along with my friends and family. "More, more, more".

This was somewhat true of me throughout my thirties.  But by forty I was already beginning to think differently.  Now I am consciously choosing to seek less, not more. This is amazing hard to do. Everything in our culture demands that chase after success. Advertisements bombard us with messages to entice us to buy and spend and work constantly to pay for it all.

I believe that there is a much better way to live. Several principles can lead us all the a much richer and deeper life. But I warn you it is very counter-cultural, and you are likely to face a lot of opposition from others.

Contentment

"We spend money we don't have, 
on things we don't need, 
to make impressions that don't matter." 
-- Tim Jackson

We chase after many things that will never make us happy.  When we choose to be content with who we are, what we have, and what we do, then life is greatly improved.

Desiring things we can not attain is the cause of a great deal of stress in our lives.  Avoiding the pursuit of more also lets us avoid the cost of seeking that next purchase, promotion, or bigger house. Contentment can be a true source of happiness.

Simplicity

Distinguishing between needs a wants is the key to getting everything that we truly need.  Most of us will be able to meet all of our needs and still have energy to pursue some of our desires beyond that. The principle behind simplicity is to organize our expectations around needs.

When it comes to making sacrifices we do not sacrifice our needs to get our wants.  Our lives are simple because they remain focused on the essential ingredients.  This prioritization of needs over wants protects us against creeping expectations.

The Principle of Simplicity starts with a clear assessment of true human needs. I have found the work of Abraham Maslow quite helpful as a starting point. I recommend that you make this both personal and specific. Here is my list of what I need to be happy.

Anything that does not appear on this list is not something that I need.
There are many other items that I want but I am clear about the distinction. I try not to sacrifice a need for a want.

There is also a limit to how much of each of these items make up the true need. For example, consider the area of "Respect & Esteem" and the need to feel successful. There is a legitimate need to feel successful, yet there is an extreme desire to be wildly successful that is unhealthy. Think about the limits that you would set on each of these areas of true need.

Generosity

We choose to live our lives in a way that is either open or closed to the needs of others. If we have a value for loving others we must have a lifestyle of serving others.

There must be a balance between what others want from us and what we want for ourselves. Healthy relationships can only happen as we learn to be generous with what we have.

This involves our time, energy, and money. We cannot say we love others until we are ready to make an active sacrifice for their welfare.