…The Less You Need

I was walking through a little shop while on vacation and found this sticker which I picked up right away.Less You Need

The More You Know the Less You Need.

I thought it was fitting given the simple lifestyle that I like to promote.  I am always sharing that when you have less, then life is easier and you and focus on what is important.  But to me, this quote seemed to say to me that if you know more, you are wise and you will come to the understanding that you do not ‘NEED’ so much.


But what do you NEED?  This question comes up a lot in the classes I teach.  What is a need?  We often say things like, ‘I NEED these shoes,’  ‘This dress is perfect for the wedding I am going to Saturday, I really NEED it,’  or ‘This tool would get the job done, I NEED it to complete my project.’  I think ‘need’ is misplaced.   We have three basic NEEDS for survival.  These are shelter, food and water.  Without them, we will die. Period.  End of discussion.  So when we apply the word need outside of this context it seems wrong to me.  Instead, we should be saying WANT.  Our desire to have something beyond our basic needs is a want.

I think this distinction is important.  We have confused our needs and our wants putting greater and greater importance on our wants without regard to the point where we think that without our wants we would not survive.

How would it feel to do without the shoes, dress or tool that you WANT? When you are confronted with a purchase or are making a decision to keep or let go of an object, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I LOVE it? 
  • Do I USE it?
  • Do I NEED it?

Do I LOVE it?

This question is very specific and could even replaced with, ‘Does it bring me JOY?’  The things you have around you should make you happy. Answering this question determines that you want an object. It is specific about the choice you are making to keep the item because that thing is so significant in your life.  The majority of what you own should fall into this category.

Do I USE it?

Not, ‘WILL I use it?’ but an very active, in the present question, ‘Do I currently use it?’  You are not saving for someday but keeping what is useful to you right now.  Your lawnmower, toaster and couch are USE it kinds of objects.

Do I NEED it?

Remember you need only shelter, food and water.  Shelter includes your home, clothes and blankets.  The possessions in this category should make up a small fraction of your overall belongings.

One More Question

There is just one more question that I encourage folks to consider and that is:

  • If I let this go, how hard would it be for me to get it again? 

We hold on to things for someday worrying that we may need that item and wouldn’t have it.  But if you know that you can acquire it when you need it either by borrowing, renting or purchasing again then there is no need to store that item for ‘someday.’  This question is great for physical items but also paper and information.  We can access a lot of information by the internet now so that it is no longer necessary to hold onto papers in our homes and offices.  The Bible in the Book of Matthew Chapter 6 has a lot to say about our possessions.  It is easy to see that we live in a world of excess today but even in biblical times people were taking and storing more than their share worried about ‘someday.’  Matthew 6:34 says “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

When you are considering that next purchase or whether to keep what you already remember, “The more you know, the less you need.”


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