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To live and thrive as humans, we require certain basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, sleep and companionship. Whether right now or at the beginning of human history, these five items can provide for a happy and healthy life. At some point in time though, greed and societal pressure crept in and shaped the framework of what a happy life is perceived to be.

There are times I need to remind myself that there is a big difference in need and want. What do we really need? A need is what is required for us to live and be healthy. We need food, we need water, we need shelter, we need sleep and we need companionship (or we’d all go mad due to loneliness.) What do we really want? Here is where things start to get interesting. A want is something that you’d like to have over and beyond your basic needs. You need a new car, but you want a new BMW. You need a new home, but you want a 4,000 sqft home.  Could you have your transportation and home needs met by a much cheaper alternative? Absolutely. We’ve pushed ourselves to want more and more when the majority of the time, a basic option would work just fine. We accumulate fancy-smancy toys to either satisfy an insecurity or to fill a want. We spend and spend, putting ourselves in debt which in turn limits our options in life. This process is even usually counter-productive to our stated goals.

It’s human nature to want to improve your situation and be successful. Somehow though, society has become the dictator on what success is and in turn, what happiness is. I’ve had the house with the white picket fence, the BMW and the country club membership and none of it made me happy. (Actually, the debt added stress to my daily life.) I met the expectations of the Jones’ living next door meanwhile forgetting what makes me thrive happily in this world.

I’ve spent the last few years slowly simplifying my life and learning in the process that I am happy just fulfilling my needs. With my son graduating high school next summer, I’ve now begun to ask myself what do I want? Not much. Perhaps a small cabin in the woods to call my own. Maybe an old coach bus and a mobile lifestyle. I’ve still got time to figure that out but what I do know is that my needs are small, and my wants are few. And guess what. Because I’m clear and honest about that, I have options.

Don’t be afraid to simplify your life if it means avoiding the pressures of society or the pit fall of debt. So often people have wants that they categorize as needs and change can be difficult. Take time to truly understand the wants and needs in your life. If you’re happy and thriving, then no need to make changes. If you’re only thriving, or better yet surviving, maybe put more attention on the needs and less on the wants.

Simplifying your life is a choice that we all have and not everyone is interested in doing it and that’s okay. It’s always going to be there as an option.

Just remember: food, water, shelter, sleep and companionship are all we really need to survive and thrive in this world. How much you spend on these items is a personal choice.

For me, I’ve traded the complicated for simple and it feels great.

Live free my friends,
Eric Gaddy

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