For most of time, the average person has lived at the subsistence level. We seem to think that the average person in the developed world should live at a middle class level.
Is this possible?
Let’s examine what I have said here.
The average person means the vast majority, as in everyone except a few. The outliers are at a great distance on the wealthy side. Thing is, you can’t get too much lower than subsistence. Wealth distribution is not a perfect bell curve.
Living at a Subsistence level has come to be considered unworthy. We believe that we are all not just deserving of a middle class life, but we ARE middle class. This means that to have less than all the trappings of a middle class life style would be unthinkable.
What is a subsistence level of living? By it’s definition it means we have everything we need. We have food that keeps us healthy; a safe, dry, warm place to live, the ability to have and raise children; and the means to contribute. Quite frankly, that’s all we need to live a healthy and productive life.
All the rest are trappings. By that I mean they trap us.
So we work – HARD – to get all those other things we feel we deserve. The harder we work the more we feel we deserve these things, but it doesn’t mean we are getting any farther ahead. The pressures of big scale economics are too big.
We are fighting a losing battle. We have used the credit available to us; we have sold and traded to continually get the next thing; and we are out of options for sustaining a lifestyle we can’t afford.
So this is my theory of economics and time. We are fighting a losing battle, working harder and harder and getting diminishing returns for every extra hour a week we work.
First of all, realize that the vast majority of people are in the same boat as you. Look around. Do you see the panic, just below the surface?
Next recognize that the way out of the trap is to recognize it for what it is. As long as we blindly fall for the advertising machine and believe that we need the next thing – and one for each of us – we will continue the way we are.
Now think hard about what is important to you.
Think really hard.
Get rid of everything else.
Spend your time with what is important.
If you focus on what is really important, you will find you spend way less time getting it and way more time enjoying it. If you want an example of someone who has done this have a look at Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits.
I’m continuing to explore these ideas and will continue to share what I find.
What do you think of this? Does it ring true for you?