“Live simply, be happy” ~Reece Pater
One major lingering concern of humanity is that of poverty. Poverty in its absolute and perceived forms both have complexities and implications for the humans concerned. Absolute poverty is associated to all those living below the poverty line (less than $2.50 per day) and include the lack of food, sanitation, housing, health care etc. that we take for granted in developed countries. Perceived poverty is a construction of modern society, where comparisons of wealth and material success can make individuals feel like they are in a ‘state of poverty’, distinctly separate from the absolute sense. I do not wish to explore the obvious complexities associated with absolute poverty, but with issues of perceived poverty and the implications on happiness in modern developed countries.
Perceived poverty is a covert phenomena that is now widespread throughout our developed countries. A psychological expression of poverty in the sense that the ‘feeling of poverty’ can be created through comparisons of material wealth. It can be detected in those that may have less material success or comforts in comparisons with their peers, even though the subject has ‘far more’ in comparison to those experiencing absolute poverty. This is essentially the result of the ever growing ‘wealth gap’ that is emerging in developed countries (check out this TED Talk for information on the ills generated through a widening wealth gap). Perceived poverty is facilitating the growth of consumer culture, personal debt, and various societal ills such as theft, drug use, depression and suicide. It is the commitment to consumerism-linked-success that perpetuates this paradigm of perceived poverty, and leads us to question our involvement in such patterns of living. A possible segway to the simple life?
The Simple Life = Intentional Simplicity
What is intentional simplicity? A conscious effort to be happy and content with what already exists in our lives. It encompasses an effort to avoid compulsory consumption, upgrading and wasting resources. A way of designing your life as to become more self-sufficient, less reliant on mainstream societal structures, all while purposely orienting toward those things that truly make you happy and provide value in your life. It requires a willingness to delay-gratification and question your values on a consistent basis. The result being a suite of conscious actions that maintain valuable mental space, repel complexity and promote mindfulness. The practice of intentional simplicity is the corner stone of living a simple life.
Disconnecting from Perceived Poverty
Why is it so important to live simply? Well, for the simple reason to combat these psychological attachments to what society tell us we need in our life. To disconnect from perceived poverty and formulate a barrier against the pitfalls of modernity. To facilitate happiness and gratitude, while making clearer in our minds what we really desire. Beginning the process towards living more simply (intentional simplicity) allows us to disconnect from this modern form of poverty and all encompassing material successes, and create a robust notion of what ‘the good life’ really means to us as individuals. It lays the framework for empowered actions, and clears a space for environmental stewardship and connection (as an added bonus for sustainable living).
It has never been more important to entertain the ideas of the minimalism and simplicity movements, as our fast paced consumer lifestyles are rapidly damaging the planet and our own sense of self. To help with your journey toward simplicity, you may find the following posts of interest:
The Joy of Less
Enough is Enough
Think Less, Achieve More