Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Food, Water, Shelter: The Essentials for Life

Image Source: Angelo DeSantis
Food, water, and shelter are what humans need to survive.  Air and an Atmosphere could be added to that list, but on planet earth, those items are a gift to mankind.

The basics for human survival are actually quite simple.  We need about 8 glasses of fresh water, 2000-3000 calories of healthy food, and protection from the elements.  All else is either a help or a distraction.

Life is About More than Surviving

Life can be whittled down to the essentials, but life is about more than just surviving, its about thriving.  As a Minimalist, the tendency can be to cut out everything, even get a high out of cutting everything out of life, and in the end be left with nothing.  Nothing wouldn't be a bad thing, but there is nothing wrong with finding joy in anything.  The point is to cut out all non-beneficial things, and things that eat at your joy.  Just realize where your true joy comes from and don't let it all be caught up in material things. People can bring joy, faith can bring joy, and experiences can bring joy.

Living With Less Teaches You Thankfulness 

When your life in voluntarily, or involuntarily cut down to nothing, you learn to appreciate what little you do have on a very deep level.  When all of a sudden, all you have is food, water and shelter, you begin to appreciate the delicacies of life like flush toilets, coffee house lattes, and electricity.  
Image Source: Adam Inglis via Flickr 

Build From the Essentials

 As a mental exercise, strip your life down to the essentials, and then build out from there.  It's called Lifestyle Design, and it's about designing your lifestyle to achieve your goals and uphold your values.  Some people just want more time with their kids, others want to travel the world, or build orphanages.  Whatever it is, Lifestyle Design focuses on what is important in your life.   What is the bare minimum you need to choose the life you want?

Reconsider the Essentials 

So you need food, water, and shelter, but how you think about each of those items might be the key to your lifestyle design.  For your ideal lifestyle, do you need a 3500 square foot home, or just a small cottage in the woods?  Do you have to pay for municipal water, or could you collect creek water or rainfall?  Do you have to shop for your foods at major shopping centers, or can you grow your own food?  Can you trade goods you produce with your neighbors, or at a farmer's market? 

For some, growing their own food isn't an option, because their ideal lifestyle is travel.  That is fine, everyone will find their own path.  The important part is to cut out the things that are meaningless, and rejoice in the things that are meaningful in your life. 

This guy lived out of a van in the Duke University parking lot.  He walked away with a degree from Duke and no student loan debt.  Read his story here.  If you want something bad enough, no sacrifice is too big. 

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