I used to think that having more is going to make me happy someday. There was a destination in my head I need to traverse, and when I’ve grabbed all the shiny bits, when I feel brilliant and equipped, then I’m going to be content and successful.
In reality, I was pacifying myself, making excuses, waiting for life to hand me a pre-packaged deal of happiness. It was a dangerous wait. Fixated on the screen, I was okay on the surface. But deep down I was wedging my soul, burying my own grave. I was dead even though I was alive.
By happenstance, I found less and it saved me. It taught me how and why I ought to leave the autopilot, breathe, and take control of my decisions. However simple it sounds, though, it has been a slow process of seeing things afresh, understanding myself, finding my values, and working on the life I want.
While on this journey, I learned a simple, freeing thought: We just don’t need much. Food, space, solitude, relationships, contributions—a potential recipe for a good, humble life. When we’re intentional of our choices, we create our own humble, thriving empire.
Still, we could be smudging the already perfect view by seeking more; obvious adequacy doesn’t mean we’ll settle.
How we’re supposed to live is laid down, ready for purchase. Ubiquitous ads corner us to grab the latest shiny thing; our news feed prescribes an awesome place to feel grand; a new pacifier entices us to squander our days. Our sanity, stretched to a million directions.
The world demands us to chase happiness—with good intentions—but misleading and sometimes devoid of what’s truly going to make us content. This ultimately leaves us distracted and discontented.
We sacrifice a lot—money, time, energy, health, and potential—but the excess doesn’t make us any better. We thought we’re gaining relevance by filling our lives with stuff and occupying our short lifetime with eternal ‘busyness.’ But we’re only consuming more to our own detriment, neither happy nor content, but lost and decaying inside.
What if life, right now, is pulling us back to less? To meaning? What if right now, we pause, look at the rear-view, and ask ourselves: Will the superfluous ever be enough? What are these for?
Maybe all we need right now is a kind tap on the shoulder, a kind voice saying we are enough.
We’re all meant to live a purposeful life, but it would only shine if we realize and begin living it. These are no maxims but here’s a few things I did, and still do now to reclaim my life:
Go outside. Motion, if you ever wonder, changes our physiology, which then changes our emotions. It’s no wonder that we go back to nature —run, sweat, bask in the morning radiance and enjoy the breeze—to appease internal conflicts. Nature humbles as that it is yet another day to seize, and it’s up to us to make it count.
Fortify your empire. While food entertains our palate, its primary role is to nourish us. By being mindful of the fact that we only have one body, and that if it genuinely matters to us, then we won’t wait forever to reclaim our health. We understand that if we invest now, if we embrace movement and eat with intention, we can ask more from ourselves later.
Set your creative space. A humble space can be the very thing that would spark us back to our most authentic selves. It’s when we’re left to our own devices that we tend to light up and shine the most.
Practice serenity. Quiet moments stir intimacy with our thoughts, giving us our much needed time to slow down and reflect. Taking the time to pause allows us to see the fine details of our lives, syncing our bodies with our intentions. Also, solitude, even in short bursts, rekindles our curiosity and appreciation of the wonders around us.
Grow deep connections. Studies reveal that all we ever need to live a long, fulfilling life is to cultivate meaningful relationships. Creating deep connections entails us to relinquish those that are toxic, and surround ourselves, instead, with kindred spirits who will understand and support us all the way.
Mold yourself. We might have an inkling of what we want to explore, maybe it’s in progress, or maybe we know it so well but we’re too afraid to do it. Whichever the case, working on a craft requires vision and serious thinking. If we’re mad about reaching our potential—if we want our lives to matter—then we’ll have to make peace with our fears by just doing it anyway. By focusing on the little things day by day and doing them well, we’re doing ourselves and the world a huge favor.
We are, more than we realize, primed to live with meaning. Reclaiming our life begins by viscerally examining how we’re spending our lives, a reflection of our true priorities. If what we do contradicts what we say we are or who we actually want to be, then it’s on us to re-route, and go, instead, towards where we want to go.