“There are two ways to make a man richer: Give him more money or curb his desires.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Consider for a moment the question: How would our world look different if people wanted less rather than more? The impact on society would be shocking:
- Less Hunger – Currently, world agriculture produces enough food for every one of the six billion people alive on planet earth. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 850 million people worldwide are malnourished, while 1.6 billion are overweight. A world where people wanted less would result in a world where food was distributed more equally.
- Less Poverty – Similarly, the world’s resources are unequally distributed. According to the World Bank, the richest 20% consume 76.6% of the world’s resources, while the world’s poorest 20% consume only 1.5%. A world where people wanted less would result in a world where our resources are distributed more equally.
- Less War – While not every war throughout history has been fought for material gain, most of them have been waged for the purpose of gaining money/gold, territory, resources, or imperialism.
- Less Environmental Pillaging.
- Less Crime. Most of the high crimes committed today are based in greed, selfishness, or jealousy.
Unfortunately, however, we live in a world that is inhabited by people. And people are ingrained with a desire for more. From the time we can comprehend the nature of stuff, we desire more of it and that is never going to change on a world-wide scale. The list above is going to continue because humanity is going to continue.
But, even if we can’t change the rest of the world, we can still change our own life. What if we could learn to truly desire less rather than more? What would be the affects? How would our personal lives look different if we wanted less rather than more?
- More Happiness. If we stopped wanting more, we would become more satisfied with our lives. And if we became more satisfied with our lives, we would become happier people.
- More Peace. One of the greatest steps to realizing peace in our lives is to simply desire less rather than more.
- More Gratitude. If we would stop focusing on the things that we don’t have and start focusing more on the things that we already do, we would become far more grateful for the good things in our lives. This gratitude would extend beyond material possessions into the things that really matter: love, hope, and peace.
- More Friendships. Consider how our friendships would be impacted if we could rid ourselves of the desire for more. We would become more generous, more willing to help, and more honest in our dealings with others. Our friendships would become better, stronger, and deeper.
- Less Stress. Our desire for more causes most of the stress in our life (not all of it, but most of it). We work in high-stress careers so that we can earn more money to buy more things or just make the monthly payments on our homes and cars. We have been enslaved by credit card companies because of the purchases we have made. If we could replace our desire for more with a desire for less, we would remove much of the stress in our lives.
- Less Jealousy. Our desire for more causes us to envy the neighbor’s car, clothes, and jewelry. We become jealous that they own more stuff than us and soon our jealousy leads to resentment and bitterness.
While we may never fully enjoy the advantages of a world that desires less, the personal benefits above are freely available. Imagine your life happier and more peaceful with less stress and jealousy. Now, if we could only shake this nasty desire for more…
And hey, I’d love to have you follow me on Twitter.