Simple philosophies – live with less

Live simply so others may simply live
~ HH Dalai Lama

Six billion people live on this planet. Each and every one is worth just as much as the next. But many of them have to struggle to obtain basic human needs such as water whilst others are wasting it washing their cars.

According to the BBC:

The world distribution of wealth and income is highly unequal. The richest 10% of households in the world have as much yearly income as the bottom 90%.

Wealth – total assets rather than yearly income – is even more unequal. The rich are concentrated in the US, Europe and Japan, with the richest 1% alone owning 40% of the world’s wealth.

Distribution of global wealth

Individually, we may not be able to do much about this problem on a global scale, but we can do the best we can to be content with what we have, so that we may give some to others that may not be as lucky as we are.

We don’t even have to physically give. If we live a little more simply and just stop consuming as much, perhaps we can stop taking from the poor and giving it to the rich. Perhaps we can stop cutting down trees in undeveloped countries to make cheap furniture and paper we’ll end up throwing away anyway. Perhaps if we didn’t desire so many cheap electronics every Christmas, we’ll reduce the amount of stuff we end up dumping into Asia.

Perhaps if we lived with a little less, others can live a little more.

simple act

Grab a bag and fill it with things you don’t need: clothes, shoes, books, toys and anything else that’s gathering dust. Give it away to a charity that will sell it to make money for a poor country or better yet, will take your stuff and send there for real people just like you and me to get some real use out of it.

Simple Philosophies is a series of short posts about small things we can do to live a happier life. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

  • “But many of them have to struggle to obtain basic human needs such as water whilst others are wasting it washing their cars.”

    I’m not sure I understand why you used this sentence. Part of not being a “disposable economy” is taking care of the things we own so that we don’t need to keep buying more and more. Washing a car is part of maintenance in order to keep it in good shape and also as a safety measure (hard to see through a windshield full of gunk). If everyone stopped washing their cars, it wouldn’t magically make water available to those in need. The world isn’t running out of water. There is a lack of access to water and especially clean water for many folks. There have been several TED presentations on how people are trying to solve the problem of clean water for 3rd world countries. Maybe investing money in those technologies would be win-win for everyone!

    • Jessica

      Hello Stephanie, that is a very good point! I wasn’t trying to say that everyone should stop washing their cars, I was just trying to highlight the difference between the rich and poor through their uses of water. And you are right, investing in technologies to improve access would help everyone.

      Thank you for your comment, I’m really glad for your help with clearing that one up,

    • Jake

      I think the example is a valid one. Water is the one thing we all need for survival. There are those who do not have easy access to this most basic of necessities, and yet others of us have so much water we can wash our cars, water our lawns, leave the water running, etc. Water is just one example of the over-consuption that is so prevalent in the developed world. If we change our perception to see water as the precious resource that it is, rather than as something which is so plentiful that we can just waste it without any other considerations, perhaps it will change how we view other precious resources as well.

      “Live simply so others may simply live” indeed.

      Great post, Jessica.


  • I agree with the philosophy of minimalism, not because it magically takes care of others, but because a simple life is a happier life. It has been said that there are two ways to become rich. The first being able to obtain everything you desire, and the 2nd being desiring very little.

    Americans do consume in excess, however by cutting down trees in third world countries, we power their economies. Look at what producing cheap electronics has done for China. They’ve been able to further finance our over-consumption. (which may eventually end in their demise)

    The point being, consuming less doesn’t necessarily help anybody but ourselves. If I produce donuts and you realize that they’re bad for you and stop consuming my donuts, I sell less donuts. I’m worse off – and so is the guy who sells me the flour and oil I use. However you are better off for consuming less donuts none the less.

  • Alen

    Hey there. Student from Croatia here. I’m 20 years old. A year ago I started to read about minimalism, and it had a huge impact on my life. I wasn’t a hoarder but I lived a typical lifestyle, but deep inside I wasn’t happy. Just wanted to say that your blog helped me in that time when I was young to the concept of minimalism, so keep it up, you’re doing a great job. And I am very glad that people my age, or even younger are embracing this as a life philosophy. Thanks and take care 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Hey Alen,

      Thank you so much for your comment, I’m so happy that I could help! Yes I agree, it’s great that more and more younger people are taking notice, it shows that the future may be quite different to the previous generations of consumerism.

      Thanks again for your encouragement!