José Mujica, the President of Uruguay from 2010-2015, gave an interview for Human the Movie where he talks about his experience coming to live the way he lives. My favourite part is linked above:
I spent almost ten years in solitary, in a hole. Plenty of time to think… I spent seven years without one book! That left me time to think.
And this is what I discovered: Either you’re happy with very little – free of all that extra luggage because you have happiness inside – or you don’t get anywhere. I am not advocating poverty, I am advocating sobriety.
But since we have invented a consumer society, the economy must constantly grow. If it fails to increase, it’s a tragedy. We invented a mountain of superfluous needs. Shopping for the new, discarding the old… that’s a waste of our lives.
When I buy something – when you buy something, you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing money can’t buy. Life only gets shorter. And it is pitiful to waste one’s life a freedom that way.
I’m not suggesting we go back to living in caves or straw huts. Not at all. No, no, that’s not the idea. What I do recommend is that wstop wasting resources on useless things, on luxurious houses that require six servants to maintain. What good is that? None of that is necessary. We can live much more modestly. We can spend our resource on things that are really important for everyone. That’s the real meaning of democracy.
I will definitely be looking to hear more of what he has to say.