Of all the research I have done into what thinkers and philosophers of the past have recommended, I have never come across any that suggest we spend our lives focused on increasing our material wealth.
When it comes to religious figures and ancient texts the result is always the same. None that I know of tell their followers to acquire as much stuff as possible. Quite the opposite.
Even our comedians warn us of the dangers of participating in the acquisition of material possessions.
So who exactly are we listening to when we are deciding how to live our lives? Not these folks, that's for sure, for if we were paying attention we would realize that simple is the best way, indeed the only way, to live successfully on Earth.
That has been the unheeded message for thousands of years.
“If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, then this is the best season of your life.”
"I am more and more inclined to reduce my baggage, to lop off superfluities. I become more and more in love with simple things and simple folk- a small house, a hut in the woods, a tent on the shore. The show and splendor of great houses, elaborate furnishings, stately halls, oppress me; impose upon me. They fix the attention on false values, they set up a false standard of beauty; they stand between me and the real feeders of character and thought."
- John Burroughs
"Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts, of life are not only dispensable, but hindrances to the elevation of mankind."
- Henry David Thoreau
Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where rust or moths corrupts or where thieves break in and steal but lay up treasures in heaven where moth and rust does not corrupt and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.
- Mathew 6:19-21
"Happiness, the goal to which we all are striving is reached by endeavouring to make the lives of others happy, and if by renouncing the luxuries of life we can lighten the burdens of others.... surely the simplification of our wants is a thing greatly to be desired!
And so, if instead of supposing that we must become hermits and dwellers in caves in order to practice simplicity, we set about simplifying our affairs, each according to his own convictions and opportunity, much good will result and the simple life will at once be established.
Have few desires.”
- Lao Tzu
"You can't have everything. Where would you put it?"
- Steven Wright