We feel better when we declutter. We know the benefits of downsizing. We may even embrace phrases like “less is more.” But if you’ve grown up with “the more, the better” cultural programming like I did, even the idea of less still carries an energy of deprivation, loss or sacrifice.
The truth is, there is great freedom in less.
The current global situation has given me a new appreciation for less. Although I have never considered myself wasteful, I discovered that there are plenty of things I could use less of without negatively impacting my health or my happiness. Here are a few of them.
I had three rolls of toilet paper when people rushed to the stores to stockpile it. I didn’t buy any. Now there is none to buy. It’s fine. I’ve discovered I can use a bit less toilet paper with the same result, which frees me from fear and hoarding.
Since we’re not leaving the house much these days, or hugging anyone, it seems silly to put on all the makeup, jewellery, lotion and deodorant. It makes me wonder why we need all that stuff to begin with. Well, except maybe the deodorant. In fact, there’s a long list of things we do for external validation or perceived social acceptance: plucking, shaving, coloring, waxing, buffing. What’s wrong with being natural, real, without a team of professional groomers to make us look and feel better about ourselves? In this current bizarre time, it all seems a bit … much.
Can you imagine a tiger eating because he’s had a bad day? It doesn’t happen. We’re the only species that eats for reasons that have nothing to do with nourishing our cells. There is freedom in questioning why we do what we do. When we stop to consider why we eat mindlessly, when we identify the emotion we’re trying to stuff or the unmet need we’re attempting to satisfy with food, that is the beginning of freedom.
If you really want to see why you do things, then don’t do them and see what happens. – Michael Singer
Eating less frees up a tremendous amount of energy. Less energy used for digestion means more energy to strengthen our immune system and detox the body. Eating less is also one of the secrets to longevity. For me, buying less food and eating less has brought a new level of mindfulness into my day. I eat more slowly. I enjoy the food more. I spend less.
Lately, I’ve experienced several “now what do I do?” moments. I’m sure you can relate. Presentations I had lined up in seven cities, cancelled. The retreat I was about to lead in Spain … canceled. A new opportunity to replace those two income sources, you guessed it, didn’t work out. Now, what do I do?
Notice that last word … do. We’re trained to be doers, to make things happen. Only what might have worked before does not work now. The rules have changed. The truth is, the old rules never worked. We’ve collectively been in the wrong game for decades. There is only so much we can accomplish by effort, strategizing, struggle and busyness. It is time for a new approach to life.
Rather than do more – or do more of the same, only better – we can simply stop. Take a step back. Reassess what we have been doing. Consider whether that path we were on is still relevant or authentic now.
We often think it’s an external thing such as our job, our finances, our partner, or the current state of the world that causes us stress. In reality, it’s how we react to that thing that creates stress. Our thinking, including the meaning we attach to events and the story we tell ourselves about them, is what stresses us out.
The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. – Eckhart Tolle
Thinking less is the antidote. Less thinking = less stress. It’s not our mind or our brain that makes the best decisions anyway. It is our intuition. Intuition is the powerhouse of inner knowing. It patiently waits for us to listen.
Let’s turn off the news, turn down the noise and tune into our unique internal guidance. We can release how we think things should work out. We can instruct our minds to be still, aware and open to brighter possibilities.
There is nothing the mind can do that cannot be better done in the mind’s immobility and thought-free stillness. – Sri Aurobindo
Freedom in Less
Less isn’t about deprivation or sacrifice. Using less, consuming less, doing less and thinking less opens the door to more. With the practice of less, we peel back the layers and get to the essence of who and what we really are underneath the adornment, the masks and the roles we play.
There is no greater freedom than to be that which we were meant to be. There is no greater freedom than to be free of others’ expectations, to be able to live our lives spontaneously, with awareness. – Osho
There is freedom in less. There is joy. There is you.