Nov 02 2011

Less is More

Less is more. Last month when we published the Retire for Less  lifestyle philosophy on our mid-month News Flash, we said that it was a “living document” — kind of like the U.S. Constitution and just as important 😎 — and could be amended or added to at any time as we, “the framers,” saw fit. What prompted us to add “less is more” was a conversation I had with one of our friends. I mentioned “less is more” and he quickly said, “I don’t want less.”  My reply was, “Well, I want less, but it doesn’t have to be a sacrifice.” The inspirational speaker, Leland Val Van De Wall, said that “most people think sacrifice is giving up something. That’s not true. Sacrifice is merely releasing something of a lower nature to make room for something of a higher nature.”

Paul the Monk, NOT!

Throughout our website, we often refer to “less is more” but after my conversation with my friend, I decided it needed clarification. After all, what does it really mean, and how does it fit into the philosophy of the lifestyle?

I always wanted to scale down and live a more frugal, less wasteful, life. I was not a friend of conspicuous consumption, even though it’s a way of life in the United States. Luckily, I married someone who felt the same way. The monastic life has always appealed to me but Gloria says I like to talk way too much for that!

When we prepared for our move to Costa Rica, we got rid of so much “stuff” that we owned but didn’t need or use. It was amazing how freeing that felt! It was an experience of “less is more.”

So, what does “less is more” mean?

  • Your choices are limited so your decisions are easier
  • Life is less complicated and more simple
  • You have less clutter to deal with so you have more “mental space” to enjoy the simple things in life, the richness all around you
  • You don’t have to meet all your goals and worry about ever-increasing productivity, so there’s less pressure and more peace
  • You do less multi-tasking, so you can be more in the moment and concentrate on one thing at a time. In the U.S., with unlimited choices for everything, it can confuse, complicate, and slow you down from making decisions because you feel you have to consider all your options.
In the U.S., we’re very used to producing.  Productivity is king. It’s a consumer-driven society that always seemed like a house of cards to me. This ever-increasing consumption didn’t seem sustainable, and it looks like it’s been proven true in current times. Take a look at your basements, garages, and attics.  If they are anything like ours were, they will be full of stuff you bought and don’t use. There’s a big difference, we are learning, between what you need and what you want at the moment.

So, play with your pet, watch hummingbirds at the feeders, enjoy a cool breeze.  Really taste the pineapple you bought at the local feria.  Smell the sweetness of flowers in bloom. Listen to the sound of falling rain.  Feel the pleasure of your body in movement when you do yoga, tai chi, or simply walk instead of driving. Enjoy all the “more” that “less” can bring.

Permanent link to this article: