Walking the Camino de Santiago is a perfect place to learn about needing less. On a 500 mile walk, the feet begin to take on a life of their own. They constantly remind the body that every ounce counts. It is liberating to realize that everything needed to survive can be carried on your back. After returning from my journey to Spain, I strive in my daily life to want very little.
There is a constant hum from television, radio, and the internet that drives us to want more, have more, get more, and spend to solve our problems. We seek comfort and satisfaction from things. How would life change if we cut the cord to wanting and buying more?
Close your eyes and imagine the simplicity of life filled with common and free treasures like hiking in mountains, enjoying yoga, or reading books. Less stuff equates to less debt, less clutter, and less need to maintain our excess stuff. Ultimately, we could work less as there is no need to support all of this ridiculous buying of material items. If spending were the key to happiness, America would be nirvana as we spend more than any other nation.
There is no need to go cold turkey as some level of desire is natural. The key is to recognize our wants instead of being driven by them. There is a fine line between helpful and excess. Gratitude for wanting what you already have also solves lots of unnecessary consumerism. I have lots to learn, but here are a few things I have learned on this never ending journey. The first step is to recognize the urge to buy things is just an impulse. Just see and feel it. Realize that an impulse is not a command and will likely shift like a ccoud. Watch it, feel it, and let it pass.
Recognize that the present moment is all you really need. When this is not the case, when we aren’t satisfied with what we have, what we are, and what is in front of us…..we want more. This is a never ending and slippery slope. Instead, focus on simple things like a conversation with a loved one, a walk on bare grass, or listening to music on a radio. All for free.
Just like yoga, this is an ongoing practice that can never be perfected. There is no antibiotic to cure desire for things. Try to set a realistic goal of consuming 50% less stuff. With a little practice, you will often find that you already have much more than you will ever need.