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How LITTLE do you need? (Mini-series)

Most of us define our lives in terms of the minimum that we need to be “happy”. Happiness then becomes elusive until we have met these minimum goals… and you know what?

When you HAVE the minimums, you’re not happy. You KNOW you’re not happy when you have what you want. That’s the state of the American mind. Once we have it – we want more. The NEXT level. Getting to the basic “I’m happy” level never really keeps us happy because our minds revise the levels so we’re cheated out of feeling any REAL satisfaction from making it when we eventually do.

Either that, or, in typical American fashion – we set our minimum levels for happiness so HIGH that they are completely unattainable and might only happen if we combine our hard work with luck. Well, luck happens sometimes and doesn’t happen other times. Even if luck happens 50-50 that’s a hell of a state to live life in… a 50% chance you’ll find happiness someday.

Why not ask yourself a different question. If you’re a fan of Tony Robbins or some other positive, progressively minded thinker you might have heard him or her say…

“Change the question. Questions empower you to find the right answers and make the right decisions, and later creating the right actions….”

The happiness that you think you crave, that you think exists in the state of things you live in may be found more easily if you change the question.

Instead of asking what the minimums you need are… ask,

“How little do I actually NEED?”

These questions might appear the same to you, but in my mind they’re different. I’m asking how little you can survive on… how little do you actually NEED to live life in a happy state. One in which you aren’t concerned about the basic ‘necessities’ like food, shelter, clothing, and such.

Question how little you really need.

If you know anything about me, I’ve lived in Thailand for the last almost 3 years. In 30 days it will have been 3 years here. Prior to this I’ve lived in the USA and did quite a lot. I met many of my goals, financial and otherwise. I was pretty close to living what some term the “American Dream”. But, I decided upon almost getting there – THIS IS NUTS! I’m done with this crazy lifestyle. TIME is what’s important to me. TIME to create, time to walk around with my head in the clouds. Time to hike for 5 hours if I want to. Time to read a book if I want to. Time to create a web site or write a book or make a funny video. I need TIME.

In America time is NOT easy to come by. Twenty Four hour days feel like 5 hour days. There is no way I could fit everything I wanted into a 24 hour day. I needed to because that’s what “happiness” meant to me then. I needed to make a lot of money. I needed to have a nice place to live. A nice car. A nice kayak. A nice stereo, camera, camcorder, notebook and desktop computers… etc. You know, all of it – the DREAM remember?

But, I wanted TIME to do all the other things that were essential in my mind. Creating things takes time. I needed that time.

I skipped off to Thailand and instantly cleared my schedule. No more time worries. Nobody called me. Nobody sent me mail. I had no appointments. I had 24 hours that I didn’t know what to DO with.

I began to create web sites, write books, and create videos and other digital content. I became a one-man production house. Currently I have over 12 blogs, 3 web sites, 4 e-books, 12000 digital photos of Thailand, 700 digital photos placed with 2 different stock agencies, 127000 words of a bio written, over 300 short movie clips of Thailand, and a host of MP3 podcasts that have yet to find their way online. I’ve gone poisonous snake and scorpion hunting and I’ve been re-focusing on fitness a lot lately. I’ve had 3 years to really slow down, reverse and restart a lifestyle that was completely different from what I knew in the USA.

Here’s a movie clip – I made without editing or really without the thought that I’d put it online here. It was going to maybe be for my mom’s birthday so she could see what I’m living with (or without) here in Thailand. It might be good for you to see too.

Vern lives here, could YOU?

So, picture someone almost living the dream… and then see the reality of what I live like now. This is a video of the place I live… I love it. It’s simple, I have nothing to worry about. I have no air conditioning, fan, stereo, television, hot water, washer, dryer, oven, microwave, or furniture. I have 2 mats that my girlfriend (Thais’ call her my wife since we slept together, and I’m fine with that) and I sleep on. We have no sink for dishes… hmmm what else don’t we have? You can watch the video and compare with your home. Oh – no car. No home phone. I’m sure there’s so much more but I’m having trouble picturing what I had before in the USA.

Living bare bones. It’s not pathetic, it’s how most Thai people live. There are something like 65 million Thai people here in Thailand. Admittedly most Thais’ do have a TV and at least some kind of table or something. I think we’re fine without those things though. We do have this notebook computer that we watch videos on sometimes. In fact, we just rented 3 videos for 50 baht ($1.66) usd at the VDO store. Good for 5 days before we need to bring them back.

So – watch the video and think for a second what it would be like to live in a place like us.

Could you do it?

Sure you could… What is holding you back? Just your mind. Just what your mind thinks you “need”.

Lessen the stress of living in the USA. You don’t NEED. You W-A-N-T.

Lose the want or you’re not ever going to be happy for long! America fuels the want… you’re immersed in a culture that is simmering you in the boiling water of want. That boiling water is American society… it’s boiling because the advertising mega-companies with gazillions of dollars to spend on tweaking your psyche and making you even more competitive, more driven to surpass your neighbor… are learning really well how to keep the temperature up! Society is well-past boiling right now… but, since the pot is under pressure, the temperature can rise higher.

You’re like COOKING LOBSTERS! Jump out of the pot!

You dont’ need to move to Thailand to escape the boiling pot and kill the want. Just start living according to needs, not wants. Make time, it’s there.

If you need to quit your job – quit! If you need to move in with your mom, dad, gramps or sister – see about doing that. Do you really need a $200,000 home? I went from a $200,000 home with Lexus RX300 and the other things I mentioned to this simple place I’m paying $99 USD per month to rent. I’m MUCH happier than I was before. I don’t have a table to sit at – but my back has become strong sitting on the floor. The body compensates for the mind… now the mind is comfy and the body has acclimated. See, no stress.

Asians have this incredible life philosophy – and you’ll see them doing in the USA too. They will move back in with their families (or never leave), so they can all share the expenses of having 1 house. Not every kid needs their own house! It’s one way to free up some time and money, and keep your family close if you can do it too.

There are so many things you can do to change your present situation.


I’ll make this a small series as I have some other areas I want to talk about as far as “How Little do you NEED?”

Best of Life!

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8 thoughts on “How LITTLE do you need? (Mini-series)

  • at 5:12 pm

    Hi Vern!
    Loved the video tour of your present home. Spartan is the first word that comes to mind! (Some Buddhist monks here in Thailand would do well to take a look at how you live and learn to live more simply themselves.)

    In the past I’ve lived in a similar manner (although with some furniture!), and I found it a liberating experience to live so simply without many possessions to worry about. These days, it seems that what’s important isn’t how much stuff my wife and I have, but how much stuff I carry around with me in the mind. One can have very little but be attached to it, or one can have a lot and not be attached to it.

    Many people in Thailand do live with very little, but that’s probably because they can’t afford much more than they have – if they had the money, they’d buy more stuff. This is human nature, of course, to be subject to one’s desires (tanha in Buddhist parlance). That we can live with very little is amply shown in your video, Vern. One question comes to mind – what does your lovely girlfriend think of living in such a spartan manner?

    Great post and nice video, V.

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  • at 11:34 pm

    Hi Gary, thanks for commenting… I agree with what you said… and you know, I think I’m seeing it more just over the 3 years I’ve spent here in Thailand… Thai people are becoming more materialistic… wanting more, more, more… the advertising industry is catching on… the super-rich in Thailand are funding them – buying advertising companies in a way not dissimilar from America as the advertising industry really started to take off – right around when I was born – 1966 and after the Vietnam war… It’s sad for me to see it and yet, silly to want anything different -it’s the pattern of mankind… You’re right, if they had more money, they’d buy more stuff. I think that’s becoming more true everyday. I hope I can reverse the course of the entire world’s people with this AimforAwesome blog… you with me Gary? Partners? 😉

  • at 5:29 pm

    Ha, ha, ha! Oh, Vern,that the world would be the way I wanted it to be would probably mean it’d be in a worse mess than it is now! I don’t have any answers for humanity’s problems, other than for people to be happy and be kind! Simplistic I know, but any more complicated than that and it starts getting messy!

    Materialism is a natural result of tanha (desire). Rampant consumerism exists in those countries that are freer, and allow their citizens the choice of what it is that they want and what it is that they don’t. I wouldn’t advocate any kind of suppression of people’s desires, just watch my own attachments and share any insights that might arise (with those that want to listen).

    Look at Burma, a country where people’s desires are heavily suppressed by the brutal (and seriously deluded) junta there. Apparently, the generals believe that they are good Buddhists looking after the interests of their country by beating and killing untold numbers of the very people that the military exists to protect! That’s real ‘messy’.

    Look at the ‘born-agains’ in the US, where some of them will verbally and physically attack people that don’t apply fundamentalist interpretations of the Christian Gospel to their lives (i.e. abortionists, gays, and ‘heathens’ like myself that practice non-Christian religions).

    I’m with you in that a world consumed by consumerism is not the best model for humanity to follow. So, I guess in theory Vern, that we are partners! What’s next? 😉

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