The Wisdom of Doing as Little as Possible

Thought experiment. Let’s imagine a different world. In this alternate existence, everyone works only as much as they need to work.

They work as little as possible.

They work only to sustain and support themselves, and to provide for those they need to provide.

They curtail their ambition, curtailing their busyness.

They increase their time by diminishing their needs.

After they work, they spend the rest of their days sitting by the river, or reading, or lounging in the shade with their friends and families.

I suspect that if a critical percentage of our society lived this way, our society would be a significantly different place. Imagine if we valued our own free time more than we value the paycheque we receive for selling our time. What if low-budget leisure became our dominant, collective pursuit? What if we used our careers to fund our layabout routine?

Sure, we might have to put up with longer intervals between available upgrades and updates for our gadgets, but would it not be worth the payoff?

Yes, it would be a very different place, I think.

As it is, we live in a society predominately organized around trying to convince other people to do things: our lives are preoccupied with the task of convincing people to buy our products, use our services, or give money to our causes. How much of our labour, in the end, boils down to strategic coercion and manipulation?

It’s exhausting, really — all this work of trying to get other people to do things.

Is there a suitable justification for making the procurement of converts and customers the cardinal aim of life?

I’m going to spend more time sitting by the river.

At the end, when I look back, I reckon I’ll care more about the sunsets I saw than the contracts I won.

If you want to live in a world full of people striving, one-upping one another, and trying to implement their plans for one another, then by all means, continue striving, one-upping, and making your schemes.

Propagation and is not on the agenda of my slacker ideology. That would be way too much extra work.

I’ll just lead by example — the example of doing as little as possible and enjoying the simple things.

The faster you go, the faster life moves past, like the scenery through an automobile window.

Existence is like a fine scotch–to savour it, you must sip it slowly.

There’s no way to relish what you are chugging.


Cite this page:
Shelley, James. (2020[2016]). 'The Wisdom of Doing as Little as Possible' (in Simplicity Praxis). Originally published on July 19, 2016. Last modified on July 30, 2020 (document revision #3). Accessed on September 28, 2020. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permalink: https://jamesshelley.com?p=16377
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