A Life of Less

Quite often we hear about the pressures and increased pace of modern life, and how this may be detrimental to our health. We are driven to do more, be more dedicated, achieve more, faster, better. This is not a bad thing necessarily. We should be driven to better ourselves. I don't really believe for a moment that these are different pressures from the ones my grandparents faced. I would suggest that the real difference is that in the last few decades the changes in our environment, such as the technology we use, have been able to outpace our ability to handle them well.

The pressure to be better today than yesterday is the same pressure that carried our species from the wheel to the automobile, but the pace of change is on an exponential increase. We've seen a huge change in mobile communications in less than a decade, Wikipedia only launched in 2001 and may now be the single and largest repository of freely accessible human knowledge; it is really incomparable with anything that existed before it.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
— Albert Einstein

Perhaps the problem is the need we feel to wring out every last drop of potential, but now that potential is simply increasing faster than our ability to keep up. The trick then is not to attempt to maximise the use of that potential, but to optimise that potential against our steadily developing understanding and ability to cope. Minimalism would therefore be one method of balance between gluttony and utility, always seeking the least exploitation of potential to satisfy a particular need. After all, the under utilised potential remains available and we continue to selectively embrace it according to the pressures of work and life. Each of our possible solutions can be considered against our needs, and we can opt to pursue the ones we favour without necessarily favouring the new over the old and reliable. Do not preclude the adoption of each new wonder, but neither presume its superiority.

If we are less concerned with chasing every new possibility and incorporating every advantage then we can be clearer on precisely which are of meaningful benefit immediately. The less pressure we chose to carry, the less stress and anxiety we feel. We will be healthier for it, and that wellbeing will lead to a more productive life.