I was walking through an airport in the early morning, and wanted to get a cup of coffee to wake me up. But then I saw a long line at Peet’s Coffee, and decided I didn’t need the coffee to be awake, happy or alive.
When something becomes a need, a requirement, it locks us in. We have to have it, which means we start structuring our lives around it.
For lots of us, it’s more than just coffee: we need a glass of wine (or beer) in the evening, we need some quiet time alone, we need things to be neat, we need to watch some TV to unwind in the evening, we need the Internet for entertainment and news. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but soon the requirements for a happy life start piling up.
What are your requirements, things you can’t do without? For some people, it changes depending on the circumstances: you need a travel pillow on an airplane, a soft bed and nice pillow in order to sleep, music in order to run or do a workout, some alcohol in order to socialize.
What happens if you can’t have these things—does it make you unhappy or stressed out? Is the trip or social occasion or run less enjoyable?
What happens when we let go of these needs, and just keep them as a “nice-to-have” option?
For the next month, my wife and I joining my friend Jesse in a no alcohol challenge, just to push into the discomfort of not relaxing with a glass of wine at night. It helps me to remove one of my daily requirements.
I might do similar things with coffee (which I have pretty much every morning) or reading things on the Internet. But to be honest, I think most of my requirements are minimal.
The fewer requirements we have, the less of a burden these requirements become. The more often we have the same thing every day, the more likely they are to become a requirement.
This isn’t a prescription for how to live your life, but just something to consider.