How to Want Very Little
Introduction (Via Zen Habits)
There are two challenges that people face when choosing to live a more simpler life: owning little and wanting little. Yet people fuse these challenges together into a larger “live simply” goal. Unfortunately, they’re two different beasts that need to be tamed in their own ways.
Owning little requires a practical approach – systematically decluttering your life and eliminating the unnecessary. Wanting little on the other hand is focused on the way in which we think, a far more blurred aspect of simplicity.
Sincerely wanting little is difficult. It goes against our firmly rooted desire for certainty, for ownership. To cut through this psychological attachment requires more than step-by-step processes or following a list of tactics, it requires a shift in your thinking, a shift in the way you approach your day to day life and how you make decisions.
1. Have a vision for your life. Goals are somewhat useful tools to get from point A to B, but they often lack depth, emotion and meaning, and without those three things there’s a deficiency of purpose and drive.
2. Find your motivation. What is your why? Why do you want little? Because it’s trendy is unfortunately not enough to quench your lust for stuff. Personally, I want little because I have dreams of traveling the world for months on end, and stocking up on gadgets and gizmos doesn’t exactly gel well with that.
3. Experience the benefits. No matter how many times you hear the benefits of wanting little, or visualise your motivation with all the intensity in the world, experiencing an uncluttered lifestyle will always be the best way to switch from a “want more” to a “want little” mindset.
4. Be noncommittal. Decisions become scary when they’re set in stone. In other areas of life a little fear could indeed be a good thing, but it’s unnecessary and undesirable when striving to eliminate the desire for more – the challenge is difficult enough without adding further resistance.
5. Understand the psychology of influence. Marketing and sales are apart of this world and it’d be silly to chastise those sectors because in reality we’re all marketers and salespeople – all livelihoods are fuelled by being heard and mutual exchanges.
6. Grow into it. Start with small victories. Be mindful of all your purchases and desires and regularly ask yourself “Does this fit into my vision?” You will stumble, it’s the nature of the beast. The world wants you to want more, and the world is a mighty challenger.
7. Lose yourself. Purchasing is a process we lose ourselves in. First something catches our eye, then there’s the inner conflict (should we buy it?). If we convince ourselves that we should part with our money, there’s that little buzz you get of claiming ownership.
8. Crunch the numbers. It’s likely that you have a passion that has expenses (like travel or reading) or, at the very least, you would like to put away some money for a rainy day. One simple trick I use to avoid acquiring things is compare the cost of the particular thing in question, to the expenses of my passion.