If you had to make a list of things you couldn’t live without, what would be on it?
What people, possessions, ideas, foods, are so important that, without them, you would not, could not, wouldn’t even want to go on?
I aspire to keep my list empty. Not because I’m a hateful person, or vacant of joy. But rather because I prefer to internalize my happiness. I don’t want it to be dependent on anything outside of me or outside of my control.
Consider that you can have a life rich with amazing friends and family, foods and experiences, possessions and creations, and not lean on any of them. Meaning that if they were to disappear, you wouldn’t be crushed.
You’d be truly saddened by the loss of a loved one, obviously, and the destruction or loss of a phone or other gadget tends to put a pall over an otherwise wonderful night. But to not be able to live without something goes a step further than that. It implies that you are defined by these people, these activities, these things. They are such a part of you that, were they to disappear, so would you.
That’s not healthy. It’s not stable. It’s not something worth striving for, these entanglements with entities and objects outside your person. People can leave, that’s their right. Objects can be stolen or destroyed, because such is the nature of objects. If you can find your happiness internally, your satisfaction with life derived from how you experience the world, not in the experiences themselves, then your quality of life is determined by you, not some external factor.
Don’t shut out the world around you, but don’t depend on it, either. Trust that you have everything you need to be happy already, and the myriad influences around you only add to that. You can enjoy the world more freely, in fact, knowing that you needn’t always be on guard against your wonderful thing disappearing and leaving you with nothing.
Because there is no nothing. Even in an empty room, you’ve always got you. Make sure you’re excellent company.
Update: April 16, 2017
This is a foundational concept to a lot of what I write about. And it does sound pretty cold when you’re first exposed to it, but the idea isn’t to empty your life of meaningful things, but rather to ensure that things in which you imbue meaning are valuable additions to your life, not foundational requirements. If you can ensure that you are all you need at the base level of your needs-pyramid, then you’re good to go, whatever you might want to stack atop it. Infrastructurally, you’re in good shape.