Critiques of choosing less

One reader asked me about critiques of choosing less.

I think about this a lot. One that comes to mind: What if choosing less means I don’t have something that’s needed?

For me, part of it is probably some reaction to the 2008 financial crisis, climate change, etc. The world is coming to grips with the cultural influence of excess. I want to do my part now to minimize my physical impact on the world by building a life with fewer things. I don’t want to have too much of what I don’t need.

Part of why I choose less is that I’m also used to a world with cell phones and the internet that can me or get me almost anything I could ever want or need at any moment. Why keep stuff in the house when I know that I can get something again pretty easily? 

This transitions to another critique, though: does choosing less come from a place of privilege?

In part, yes. I’m a young white male with a college degree in a growing city with a strong support system. That’s a winning lottery ticket.

However, I know that many of my readers have similar advantages. This isn't something we should ignore, or use as a justification not to choose less. What’s the opposite — choosing more? Isn’t that what gets us into trouble in the first place?

If we can all find ways to live smaller and more intentionally, we’ll do a big part in reducing our global footprint and, hopefully, find a little more happiness and peace along the way.

Which brings me to another critique: would these these emails resonate, or even matter, to those in harder circumstances? I’m not sure. I would love to find a way to have the conversations to find out. I do think is some universality to learning to accept and love what you already have, no matter your circumstances. 

In short: there’s a lot of complexity to choosing less. Ironic, right?

But my most important message I’m trying to share: choosing less can give space and freedom to live your best and happiest life. Nobody can critique you for trying to do that.

That means that you shouldn’t strive for the expectation of making your life the perfect minimalist clean white room if that’s not what you want. As long as you’re thinking about and evaluating what matters and what can go, both in your house and what’s going on in your life, you will find the right balance of what to keep.

This post is adapted from a weekday newsletter I wrote in April 2018, Choose Less.