For the past months, I have been toying with the idea of living simply. Living in a fast-paced city like Hong Kong, the city that never sleeps, it is so easy to get drowned in piles of work and various activities. Every week, there are always new happenings. Yes, it is exciting, but it also has gotten so exhausting that every day, you got to exert significant energy that you don’t have.
Whenever I am stressed at work, I would imagine giving this all up, sell all my things, and move to a calmer place where no one knows me and start a new life. Just like in the book, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. It is about consuming and doing lesser things, thus making more space and time for yourself, friends, and family. It is having a life less-cluttered; quality over quantity.
The idea of moving to a slower-paced and less expensive city has been playing in my mind, especially every after a holiday abroad.
I would ask myself, why don’t I choose to lead a simple life? Why do I have to put pressure on myself every day? Move into an island, learn to surf and do other things that I love?
I can change into another less stressful industry, though it may mean lesser income? Or maybe I don’t have to shop for new clothes every month. Should I not buy coffee from Starbucks anymore? Get a cheaper cellphone and get rid of credit cards? Cut out social media?
So, I have listed the pros and cons of having a simple life and realized that it is not for me YET. Here are the reasons I came up with:
1. I love to work.
Call me a workaholic but being productive, may it be for work or passion projects, gives me a sense of importance. Call me a people-pleaser, but seeing my boss and clients happy with my work satisfies my being. Before I leave the office, seeing that I ticked the boxes of things I need to help me sleep at night.
However, it is not always rainbows and butterflies at work. There are days when pressure supersedes everything, or maybe you’re having a bad day and maybe not in the mood to do things. That is okay as long as the problems can be solved the next day. What is not okay is dealing with shit every day resulting in an unbalanced life.
2. I love to travel and explore unknown places.
The routine of home-work-home drives me crazy. I am the type of person who would look at the map once a day to check where else have I not been or see if there are any cheap hotels or resorts I can experience. Hong Kong has so much to offer from the jungle city to mountains and hills, to small islands, and with the proximity of China, it’s so easy to plan weekend getaway trips.
I don’t even have to go far or spend money. As long as I am exposed to a different ambiance every once in a while (or once a week), inspiration and motivation would never come short. If you put me on a faraway island or in a place where I can’t get anywhere, I probably won’t survive.
3. I need the money.
We all have responsibilities and since I am turning thirty this year, taking care of my parents is my priority. They are not getting any younger and soon enough; they are going to retire. Inflation will always be there and the economy remains unstable, thus it is important to have multiple streams of income. Having less money just won’t do it for me.
Aside from my family, I need to secure my future and my future family’s future. Once I have children of my own, I need to feed and send them to school. Oh, I can see a lot more expenses coming in my way! As I age, I realized how hard it is to earn money. Every dollar counts, so being mindful of my cash flows is very essential. Keeping an excel sheet of the money that comes in and out of my pocket has been a practice and it helps me to keep track of my progress.
4. I like meeting new people.
Living simply is about the quality of people you surround yourself with. Meeting them, however, is like opening a box of chocolates – you don’t know what you’re going to get. They can be great people, but they can also be toxic. You will never know unless you sit down and hear their story. I fill my schedule with friends gathering and networking especially on weekends because it provides structure and inspiration for my soul.
I am aware that I also need to take time to be with myself so I don’t overdo it. If my mood suddenly changes, I can always reschedule (or make excuses and cancel).
5. I want to belong.
Cutting down social media may mean a lighter brain load, but it also means not knowing what people care about or missing out on the trends. I don’t follow every trend out there and sometimes, I shut my social media off to release myself from distractions but in the age of the internet, this is the easiest way to keep in touch and see what your friends are doing. Your friends can be toxic if you allow them to be.
Living simply sounds easy to do but the reality is, it requires a huge amount of sacrifice. It is living a lifestyle of lesser things and works and that would make me bored. I enjoy the noise in my crazy brain, the spontaneity, the excitement, and the thrill. I just had a chat with my boss earlier today and he told me that stress and excitement co-exist. I don’t want to believe it and I wish there is a way to have the right amount of everything.
Perhaps, the key is balance. Since it’s the 21st century, you can design the life as you want, putting in the right dosage of excitement and stress. Less of the latter if possible. You only have one shot in this life, so why not make it worthwhile and choose what makes you happy.
Maybe you can still move on an island, work a decent salary, have lesser expenses, and still get excited with new challenges. You probably just have to save to buy that designer’s bag though.