Choices don`t neccessarily make us happier.
When we have little, there is the potential to be happy with what is.
It seems to be human to constantly strive to improve the current situation we are in.
Think about it: how often have you tried to make yourself feel better today? How many of your thoughts evolved around accomodating wishes or necessities? Being hungry, or thirsty, or hot, or cold, or tired, or eager… the list is endless. Once we have accomodated one wish, another one comes up. It`s an endless loop that can easily leave us feeling unwholly, dissatisfied and exhausted.
Therefore, to live with little bears a huge potential – if it is done purposefully and from a perspective of self-care and love. This is not about scarcety. There is nothing relaxing or uplifting about having too little to live well. Our livelihoods need to be covered. However, in our postmodern society and especially in the wealthy countries of the West we have long outgrown our basic needs. We have too much of everything. We are finding it hard to feel full(filled).
The less (possibilities) we have, the less our mind is pulling us towards the fulfillment of needs. Needs that are often rather imaginary in the first place. The less (possibilities) we have, the more our mind can actually be still with what is.
We went camping for a few days.
In the mornings a thought would occur: how nice it would be to have a cup of coffee.
We did not have a coffee maker with us, nor the coffee to fill it with or cups to drink from. Soon enough our minds would give in to the reality of what is and stop wishing for coffee. Instead we would go for a walk, read a book, take a swim – and drink some water.
Back home my husband wanted to make tea for us after dinner. There was a vast selection. We did not know which one to choose. Did I like something different than him? Would black tea keep us awake at night? My husband made the tea. I found it too strong. Would this have been the only tea available, I would probably have either drank it. Now I got up to make another tea. Something that even while I was doing it felt interruptive and disturbing to the peace of sitting still and enjoying each other`s presence.
As for food, while camping we had bought a bunch of vegetables. Every night, we would chop them up and roast them with olive oil in an aluminium pan. Every night, dinner was delicious and we were fully satisfied and happy.
Back home, the choices in our refrigerator were overwhelming.
At the campground we had hardly any possibilities to charge our phones.
(Unless we would have decided to sit with our phones in the bathrooms to wait until they had charged – which fortunately we did not. I am happy we are still able to disconnect enough to not choose sitting in a bathroom and watching our phones over sitting at a beach and watching the ocean…) Our phones would notoriously be at 10% of their battery power. I still did post a picture on Instagram every now and then. Which would suddenly take me two minutes instead of endless scrolling and updating and monitoring. The result seemed to be pretty much the same. People kept liking and following and unfollowing – whether I was witnessing it or not. I felt relieved.
Back home, the connection to WIFI came with a storm of messages, emails and texts. Whom was I going to write first? What was important and in which order? And how could Facebook and Instagram still drag me into their spell, even though I felt overpowered by the presence of other people`s life stories in that moment?
I will never forget a scene that I saw in a documentary once. The documentary was about a man who was rather wealthy but one day decided to sell all his belongings and live as a nomad because he was no longer happy. He said he carries as little as possible with him since his belongings are like “a tail that I have to drag behind me. The longer, the fuller it gets, the heavier I become.” Somehow that picture stuck with me. It may not be visible to the eye but every piece of belongings makes us a little heavier. Heavier with responsibility, heavier with commitment, heavier with choices. We are literally binding ourselves, our shoulders hunched over in the attempt to carry it all.
It is difficult to unplug yourself just like that.
Which is why we choose to go on holidays and retreats, to take time off at the spa or at the beach, to make appointments with ourselves, our family and friends to have some time off from the storm of our daily lives.
Choose these moments often. Find a routine that leaves space for nothingness. Unclutter. Know that having less to choose from may make for the deeper experience.