Even though COVID restrictions are not as “strict” anymore, things feel weird here in Vienna. I don’t quite know how to put it, but something is off. While a bookstore owner around the corner tries to survive, I strangely catch myself buying fewer books. With the demands of this pandemic, no wonder people are looking for alternative ways to live and to save money. We adapt. We change. I changed to an even simpler living. For me, simple living encompasses all the fundamental values that help me live a more wholehearted life. From being connected to the present moment to appreciating the little things, and taking time to enjoy and celebrate this awesome life.
Of course, there are many things that can hinder us on this quest to live more simply, this glorification of being “busy all the time”, consumer culture and materialism, digital and virtual consumption. I mean all those things that we seem to need to evaluate in our lives and then decide whether we want and/or need a lifestyle change.
The other day a friend asked why some people don’t work overtime. Because this way they could make some extra money to buy new things. Honestly, I rather purchase less and have more time for myself and the ones I love. This conversation then took a turn to success and if it is correlated to how busy we all are and how much time we spend at work. What does busy even mean? Explanations why someone never calls are: He is very busy at work. Some wear it like a badge of honor, taking pride in the fact that being busy implies that they are important. But they are not. Nobody is that important. The thing is that we cannot be busy every hour of every day.
Many people share every step they take and give status updates and let people know what they are doing at all times. People also share their positive stuff, their purchases, their achievements, and that they have the best time traveling the world with two motorcycles at the same time. Many just need to leave or share a feeling of a “picture-perfect” portrait of existence which is most likely not the case. I believe what it does is it leaves them with a feeling like their lives don’t quite measure up. Look at me, world! Look what I did/bought!” Please “like” and leave a comment below.
Others think they are more loved if they own “cool” things”. One of the reasons that consumerism has become such a fundamental part of people’s lives is the fact that shopping and buying things gives a sense of identity, and most importantly, a sense of worth comes from the “stuff” we consume. But hasn’t this crazy pandemic shown us what we actually need? That there is nothing lacking? That we have everything we need? Often, this urge to buy new things is because something is lacking from within, and whatever is consumed will fill that void and fix us.
I think that there is a deeper fear that if we stop being “busy” or buying stuff, for just a moment, we would be confronted by silence, and even more terrifying, we would have to face the fact that perhaps what we are “busy” doing isn’t actually that important at all.
But, what does it mean to be successful in life if it is not the things we own? It is important to remember that success doesn’t just have to be defined by the big moments in our lives or by collecting material possessions. There can be great significance in the small, quiet moments and in life’s little details. If we stop and think about it, there are other ways to evaluate how successful we or our lives are. For example, the time we spend with awesome people, the connection we make with others, how much love and happiness we inspire, the impact we have on our surroundings. By learning to relish the small, simple pleasures along the way, we can all find more meaning and joy in our lives.
It is easy to get caught in the loop of working to earn money, to buy material possessions (that fuel the economy), and to improve social status and happiness by working yet more again to buy more things. But material possessions and consuming things doesn’t do this. Experiences and people, not things make us happy.