Essential Things You Need to Survive in Life

All Essential Things You Need to Survive in Life – A Guide to Minimalism

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For quite a while there is this one question that’s not giving me peace. It’s a question the answer to which should resolve most of my problems related to minimalism. The question is: Exactly how much stuff, objects, resources, natural elements a person actually needs to own in order to survive and be happy? Since we constantly talk about stuff, I thought it will be cool to make a list of the essential things a person needs in order to survive in the world. So, here we go…

If you think about it, we only need access to the following four things to survive: 1) water, 2) oxygen, 3) shelter, 4) food. Basically, if you have where to sleep, what to eat and drink, and if the air you bread is good, you can last forever – well, at least till a certain age.1 I mean, these four things are enough for someone on the planet earth to live. You may not even have to work and worry about money if you have a small garden where you grow your own food.

Still, very few people want this type of lifestyle, where you’re isolated from the modern world and you only live to survive. To live like a modern person, to create, build, raise a family and shape the future the way you desire, you need a bit more than only the above four things. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Why The Question for The Amount of Things Worries Me So Much?

The world is such a dynamic place. Every day there are thousands of new products created, articles published, videos recorded, TV series released. It’s becoming so hard to keep up with all that data that the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) condition is spreading amongst more and more people. Before I thought that this FOMO thing is simply another phony medical condition invented by the pharmaceutical companies to sell us more drugs. But this time I believe it. It’s a real thing. I know because I get that feeling every now and then.2

Basically, waking up triggers a decision-making process that in most cases ends up with regret: “What to have for breakfast?”; “Where to go to have a coffee?”; “What to wear?”; “Should I sleep for 5 more minutes or get up and workout?” The moment you order something at the restaurant or you go to a certain nightclub you get depressed and start thinking about what would have happened if you actually went to the other disco.

At a certain point in my life, I was consumed by the always wanting more mindset. My thoughts were focused on a constant desire to acquire more things that I didn’t yet owner. I thought that these things will make me really happy and satisfied.

Before I fed my mind with things like: “If I only had a cooler car, everything was going to be perfect.” Or “The only thing left in order to have a perfect wardrobe is a green blazer. Once I have that my life is going to be complete.” Basically, I was pursuing a type of ifestyle were I had to obtain constantly new things.

It took me years to realize that this mindless pursuit for more things won’t make me happier. The opposite actually happens. Hoping and pursuing more only makes you want more. It doesn’t bring relief. It only brings more desire, thus more dissatisfaction.

After all these years, all this time, all of the money wasted, I decided to do something. I decided to create a list of things that are actually required for a regular person to feel complete and happy with what he/she has. The list is not long and I believe that it can help you feel better.

Essential Things You Need to Survive In Life

What do humans actually need in order to survive in life?

After thinking about it and going through the entire net, I was able to conclude the following list of things that are kind of the bare minimum of items needed for someone to survive in the world and also be happy with what he/she has. I really hope the below-mentioned objects will give you a better understanding of what exactly you need and also help you to remove the other things. The ones you don’t need.

Ok, let’s start:

1. Money

Things you need to survive in life 1

Ok, I need to get this out of the way. Even though no one knows exactly when money was invented, it was something necessary in order for people to grow as a species.3

Before the first coin was cut, people exchanged goods in the most logical way: you have iron, you give iron to the local shepherd and he gives you milk in return. But what if your neighbor doesn’t want iron? Or, how do you determine how much iron you should give for a litter of milk? Well, the chance to end up thirsty or hungry back in the days was really high.

We all need cash. Or at least all the people who are reading this article. There are still tribes that survive by hunting for food. Clans that use mud and clay to raise their homes. These guys are the true minimalists. These guys own only things they need and use, not like us – people constantly hungry for more iThings.

So, the next logical question is going to be: “How much money is enough money?” The sad part is that no one knows. Both rich and poor people want more money. Both for obvious reasons: Poor to upgrade their way of living; Rich to gain more power. We no longer live for life itself, we live to earn money. Our lives are rarely measured by something else besides how much money we earn.

At the end of the day though, we actually need only a few hundreds a month. The final number depends on where you’re living in the world but it’s definitely less than what we think.

2. Oxygen

Kind of obvious but we can’t go without it. “But how is this related to minimalism” you might ask? By restricting yourself from consuming more goods you’re helping the planet Earth.

The more we consume the more waste we produce. Trash is the byproduct of higher consumption. So, if you’re advocating a life focused towards only the essentials, a life with less, you’re basically helping humanity. You’re producing less waste which is keeping our planet breathable.

3. Liquids

Things you need to survive in life 3

By saying liquids I mainly refer to water.

Alcohol is highly addictive and can easily ruin your life. We don’t actually need any of the products advertised on TV: cola, cold tea, tea, coffee, beer, whiskey. We buy coffee from Starbucks only because it tastes good, not because it has a positive impact on our health. Over our mind maybe yes, but it’s surely not giving us any benefits to our health. It’s actually worse.

You only need water to survive.

4. Food

Things you need to survive in life 4

When you go to a restaurant you’re puzzled by all the choices. It’s even worse if the restaurant you’re visiting has a large menu. If this is the case you will feel bad no matter what you order because you will think that the other things – the ones you didn’t order – are better.

Every person is different and loves different food, but ultimately, you can thrive by only eating a couple of things.4

For example, I know that the Chinese survived back in the days by only eating rice. Even though it’s probably not a good idea to eat only one type of food mainly because we need different amino acids, we can still outlive a lot of people if we have shorter menu.

5. Shelter

Things you need to survive in life 5

Mother nature can be really hard on us sometimes. Storms and floods are something common. We need a place where we can hide from the burning sun and stay dry when it’s raining outside. This space, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be a three-story building with huge lawn in front. A studio apartment can basically satisfy all of our biological needs and allows us to raise a family.

But people are rarely satisfied with a small condo. They want big homes because that’s what it means to be successful.

However, you don’t need much to live a good life. The average area you need in order to live is around 24sqm.5

6. Furniture & Kitchenware

Things you need to survive in life 6

Once you have where to live, you will need a couple of furniture pieces to help you arrange your belongings in the best possible way. You can go crazy about what to buy in terms of tables cabinets but essentially, you need only these 6 things:

  • Bed.
  • Table/Desk.
  • Chair/s.
  • Wardrobe.
  • Toilet.
  • Sink.

That’s all you need in terms of furniture. Where to sleep, where to eat, where to work, and where to store your clothes.

In terms of kitchen wear, you need the following things:

  • Glass/glasses.
  • Fork, spoon, knives.
  • Dishes.
  • A cup.
  • A saucepan, frying pan.
  • Other small kitchen tools.

Think about the above things next time you’re planning to renovate your apartment.

7. Vehicle for Transportation

Things you need to survive in life 7

In part, we owe our success as a nation to our ability to transport large amounts of goods in different areas of the world, quickly. Even though you can live your entire life by only staying in one place, it’s not something a lot of people can handle. For decades our ancestors were wandering the earth and this is surely implemented in our DNA. I mean, if I stay at home for a couple of days I get anxious. I kind of start feeling like I’m a prisoner and I need to go for a walk.

Basically, our modern life obligates us to own a vehicle of some sort – in most of the cases a car – in order to go to work, go to the store to buy goods or something else. Fortunately, smart people have invented different ways of transportation over the years: bicycle, motor, cars, planes, skateboards, rollerblades, scooters, and etc. And thanks to the industrialization basically nearly everyone can afford to a car.

Still, the question is, do you really need a car?

I recently replaced my car with a folding street bike and I must say that I’m way happier.6

It’s super fun. I don’t wait in traffic and I don’t have to get upset every time someone forgets to use his blinker. Of course, a bike won’t be the most suitable solution for everybody. There are a lot of people who live a long way from work and a car is the most practical decision. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about alternative ways of transportation. A car is a pretty big expense and there are certainly ways to replace your automobile – public transportation, bike, something electric.

8. Clothes

Things you need to survive in life 8

The fashion industry is a billion-dollar business. It’s hard to neglect the latest fashion trends and remain unimpressed. Each season there are new cool wears which are taking over the world and becoming a necessity for half of the population around the globe thanks to the heavy marketing of the leading brands.

Fashion gives people something that only very few other things can offer. It gives people the chance to reveal their inner emotions and feelings to the world. Clothes and accessories can make the invisible – the true feelings and desires of a person – visible to the outside world. Clothes are a way to express ourselves. It’s normal to say that if a person wears a shirt and tie you can expect from him to be a responsible guy on who you can count on. Further, clothes keep us warm from the natural elements. Animals have fur that protects them from cold and sun but we need additional coverage. Our bodies can’t survive without proper clothing. What we buy and what we wear is based on the conditions outside and on the latest fashion trends.

How many clothes are enough though?

Let’s see what are the essentials:

  • Shoes: Not that you can’t live with only one pair of shoes but you will eventually go to a wedding and you will need something appropriate. Ultimately, you can own only 3 pairs of shoes without counting the flip-flops: sneakers; official shoes; training shoes.
  • Socks and underwear: It will be enough to have 10 pairs of both categories: underwear and socks.
  • Jeans/Pants: A pair of jeans and a pair of long trousers will do the work for any type of occasion. Additionally, you will need a tracksuit and probably shorts. Ahh, also a bathing suit. So, 5 items.
  • T-shirts: When it comes down to t-shirts people go crazy. My closet was full of all kinds of t-shirts before. I used to keep my old torn t-shirts for no obvious reason. Now, I have only a handful of pieces in this category and it’s still more than I need. Since we’re talking about the essentials here, from my point of view the following number will be enough: 7 t-shirts for going out – one for each day of the week. 7 that can be used when working out or that can be worn in-house. Extra 5 for sleeping.
  • Shirts: Unless you work as a lawyer you will probably only need around 3 shirts: For your wedding; For all of your best friends weddings; For every other occasion held in a fancy restaurant.
  • Sweaters and vests: Depending on the weather in the country you’re living in you will need more or less of those. Still, the number will be around 2 from each.
  • Jackets: Winter jacket, a blazer, a bomber jacket, and a wind stopper for when your hiking.
  • Accessories: Of course, you can’t go without the essential accessories: watch; hats for both when it’s cold and for when it’s too hot; belt or two; bowtie; wallet; backpack; travel bag. In total 9 items.

I don’t know if you’re counting but your wardrobe can be composed of only 57 pieces. How much do you own now?

If you’re looking for some extra advice in regards to how to dress, you might check my minimalist fashion definitive guide.

9. Gadgets

Things you need to survive in life 9

If you open Kickstarter now you will find at least 5 things you don’t actually need but you will immediately want. Thanks to the innovations in technology more people are now able to produce interesting products.

Even though I love the idea of supporting creative people who are trying to make a difference, you don’t need anything from this site.

Here’s a list of the gadgets you actually need in your life:

  • Laptop.
  • Smartphone.
  • Mouse.
  • Headphones.
  • Coffee machine.
  • Refrigerator.
  • Oven with hobs.
  • Microwave.
  • Washing machine.
  • Dishwasher – it saves a lot of time.

Exactly 10 things. You don’t need Amazon echo, Oculus, PlayStation or a Google Home. Hell, you don’t even need a TV. If you ever want to waste your time watching something you can do it on your laptop.

Think about it for a moment, how many of the stuff you own you don’t use in your home? It’s maybe a good idea to get rid of them.

10. Emotions

Things you need to survive in life 10

So far we talked mainly about physical objects or tangible resources that are necessary for our survival. Even though we can survive in the world, live our lives on the planet without any interaction with the other fellow humans, or at least after we’re raised by our parents, the majority of the population can’t have a meaningful life without interacting with other people. We want to experience emotions, sensations, love, loss, sadness, joy, happiness. Even though there is no logic behind it we also need to feel pain from time to time.

Leave a person alone in a hotel room and it won’t take him more than an hour for him to look for some sort of social interaction with the outside world. Whether this will be through social media or through the old-fashioned conversation with someone else, we crave for experiences that will put a smile on our face or tears in our eyes. We are social animals and seek emotions constantly.

Some Closing Thoughts

I enjoy owning things. Especially items that are well designed and help you in your daily tasks. Yet, I don’t find a good reason to desire a lot of things. The less you own the more time you will have for the important things in your life. Like your family, friends, craft.

People spend their entire lives wanting to buy bigger houses, expensive cars or have larger wardrobes. Sadly, when you get what you want, your desire immediately shifts towards the next big thing and you can’t actually feel satisfaction from what you just received.

Get to know what you actually need in your life. Think about how you spend your days. What you use and what you don’t. Our lives are different but you surely don’t need the latest smartphone or a 100-inch plasma to live a good, meaningful life.

I hope this guide will pinpoint the essential things and help you declutter both your physical and your mental space which will ultimately give you more time and more satisfaction from your life.

How much stuff you own but you don’t use? Can you tell?


Footnotes:

  1. Years ago, the causes for a fatal end were quite different: wild animals, storms, floods. Now, the threats are quite different: suicide, terrorism, car or plane crash.
  2. FOMO is the abbreviation of fear of missing out. If you look online you will find this detailed description: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
  3. I was eager to learn actually when money was invented but even Wikipedia is clueless: “… it is impossible to trace the true origin of the invention of money and the transition from ” barter systems” to the ” monetary systems”.
  4. I recently stumbled on a guy who actually eats only pizza. You can read his story here: LINK.
  5. If you don’t believe me? You can check out this micro apartment: LINK.
  6. You can see my bike on this post: Why I become a minimalist.

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