What would life be like without your smartphone? Without money to buy clothes? Without your vices, like alcohol, sugary foods, or the internet?
The stoic philosopher Seneca advocated for the idea of “practicing poverty” and living life without luxuries from time to time.
“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’” – Seneca
As a wealthy politician and writer at the time, Seneca spent periods of time practicing poverty to gain mental toughness, as well as reduce the fear of actual poverty (which could happen if you crossed the wrong person back in those days).
In most of today’s modern world, we have social safety nets and laws in place to prevent us from truly “losing it all”. However, the practice of going without is still applicable to make us learn more about ourselves. It allows us to:
- Determine What We Actually Need
- Lessen Our Dependence on Things
- Reduce Our Fear Of Loss
I personally use “breaks” often to help me distill how important things in my life truly are. Through this practice, some examples of things I’ve learned include: social media is a net negative on my life, I don’t need cable/tv, and that eating clean is well worth the effort.
As you examine your life, I’d challenge you to think about things, ideas, or habits that could use a “break”. What could you try going without to see how it truly impacts your life? I’ll share some ideas below.
5 “Going Without” Ideas To Try
- No Shopping for 60 Days – To help control how shopping impacts your life, try only buying what is necessary for the next 60 days. Continue to buy things like groceries, rent/mortgage and transportation. However, no clothes, gadgets, or nice to have purchases for two months.
- No Smartphone Use For a Week – Many people are habitually checking or relieving boredom with that thing in their pocket. Try leaving your smartphone out of reach for an entire week (close enough so you can hear important calls).
- Disable Social Media Accounts For 90 Days – Most of the major social media platforms allow you to disable your account temporarily. Spend part of the year off social media and see how it effects your life. You can always go back if you really think it makes your life better…
- Eat Only Real Food For a Week – Next time you go grocery shopping, buy nothing processed! Only eat food that looks like food. If it grew in the ground, or ate what grew in the ground, it’s fair game. Try eating simple and clean for a week and see how your body feels.
- No Internet Use For One Day – Try planning one day each week where you “log off”. Saturdays or Sundays work great if you are a M-F worker. Don’t go on the computer, and avoid all the internet-browsing apps (including social media) on your smartphone.