letting go of the externals

There’s no law written in stone anywhere that if you’re pursuing a simple life, cultivating detachment and practicing philosophy that you need to give up all your materialistic desires and worldly possessions, and downgrade your dressing style and the way you show up in this world.

There are some people out there who enjoy flaunting the fact that they’re practicing detachment and a minimalist lifestyle by constantly showing how little they own. They want to show off their virtuous selves by riding a bike or driving a beat up old car, or by being extra careful about how they spend their money in public. They want their actions to say to other people that they have stepped away from desiring what other people desire. But these are mere facades and fake appearances, and in truth, they still have a conflict within. They try to “fake it till they make it”, but they end up getting frustrated, disappointed and confused in this process. 

When we let go of externals in order to live a simple life, it doesn’t mean we give up everything and live like a pauper. What it means is that we only make room in our life for the essential things — the things that matter most to us — and practice detachment towards them so that even if they’re gone from our lives, we’ll be okay with that. I hope you see the difference between the two.  

A simple and minimalist life is hardly a matter of externals, in fact, it’s all about what’s going within us. It’s not how much we own, but about how we enjoy what we have with us. Lack of wealth does not equate to living a simple life. As Seneca writes, “We should not believe the lack of silver and gold to be proof of the simple life.” 

Living a life of simplicity means being grateful for what we have, without any feelings of need, envy, frustration, confusion, hurt, despair or insecurity. It’s about being happy with who we are and what we have, period.