The Unnecessary

A great source of productivity and happiness is choosing carefully the unnecessary in your life. Removing the painful and unnecessary leads to both happiness and success. The unnecessary is everywhere.

I wrote a post in the pandemic in an effort to strip things back to basics. The post was called the Needful. The Needful addresses both that which we need to do to succeed and that which we must prioritise to get by. The Needful had a strong ‘cut wood, carry water’ vibe.

Reflecting this week on needful, what came to mind was its antithesis – the unnecessary. Our modern lives are so full of the unnecessary:

  • The text that tells you a call is coming about the meeting to discuss the email that was sent last week
  • The third LinkedIn connection request from a growth marketing consultant who doesn’t understand how to grow their own business
  • The outrage in the political sphere about matters that don’t contribute to the betterment of the world or those in it
  • The anger that arises day to day as people expect more and give less, understand more and know less, or demand more and do less
  • The packaging that wraps the packaging that covers the packaging to protect the item
  • The bureaucratic processes that satisfy a systemic demand for bureaucratic processes and little else
  • The relentless cascade of things you should be, do or own with scant regard for what you might need to be, do or own.
  • And so on…

The Unnecessary is everywhere in our lives. You could say that a defining characteristic of late stage capitalism is the creation and commercialisation of the unnecessary.

Removing the unnecessary from your day, week and life is the greatest source of immediate happiness and productivity. Something simply vanishes and you can do more and feel better. Unchecked the unnecessary proliferates and its demands become all consuming bringing more unnecessary to remedy the last.

The only unnecessary you need is those things we do for pure moments of living, joy and beauty. We should choose the unnecessary we experience for happinesses sake or for an occasional escape from the demands of the needful.

Living life with a focus on the needful, eliminating the unnecessary as much as possible is a path to productivity and happiness. It also opens the space to enjoy a much more fun form of the unnecessary as the art of living well.

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