About the Wiser Next Week Series: These entries will involve posting my book, Wiser Next Week, chapter by chapter, freely available to the public. Additionally, I’ll be recounting a story about something I’ve learned based on the chapter’s topic since the months that have past when the book was published in December 2018.
“Ounces Equal Pounds & Pounds Equal Pain”
March 2019, I had just quit my job as an accountant in Reno. I spent a few weeks with my parents to drop off some stuff, help out around the house, retool and regear before setting off on my global odyssey.
Out of all the travel gear research I did, one was on the pack I would bring with me before setting out. At this point I had never backpacked nor met any backpackers before. I would normally have 2 big suitcases I would bring with me when I went to college.
I knew lugging those 2 50 pound things around the world wouldn’t be a viable option, so I downsized to a 26L bag.
The Principle of Hedonic Adaptation
After much research, the pack I picked was the Cotopaxi Inca 26 Liter which is the blue bag up above.
Having dyed the bag to darker shade of blue, I put all the knowledge I had gained from countless travel blog into practice. I packed just the essentials (at least what I thought were the essentials).
During the process of me trying to jam everything into the pack, my mom continuously commented on how I need a bigger bag. I ignored her.
I knew that if I brought a bigger bag what would happen would be that I fill it up, just like the ginormous suitcases. And a lot of the stuff I would end up bringing would be things I’d end up not needing, as in dead weight. This is based on the principle of hedonic adaptation which could be explained as follows:
Think of buying “stuff” to make you happy as akin to a drug addict’s drug addiction. The sudden hit leads to an intense rush tempting you to chase the high. The more you pursue it, the more tolerance is built toward the drug. This leads to a result where the drug addict overdoses (or in the materialist’s case, becomes enslaved to their piles of junk) and will be left all the more destitute for it.
The above excerpt refers to happiness but can be applied to a variety of situations. One of which being the feeling of safety. This is especially true when we are taken out of our comfort zone and into a foreign environment. We hide behind our stuff because it give us a sense of normalcy. It can be seen by the number of backpackers with not one, but 2 oversized backpacks.
In hindsight now, I really don’t miss most of the stuff I left behind. Besides the occasional breakage of gear (most of which can be replaced along the way), I have everything I need. Sure some things would be nice to have, but I can do without. I would be little more prepared with a huge bag at the cost of a lot less mobility (and a lot more sweating & aching) as I walk a lot.
Look in your pockets and use your creativity, more often then not it will be enough to solve the problems you face.
Here is the “On The Simple Life“ chapter of Wiser Next Week. Take it and implement it into your own life.