Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

3 Principles from Burning Man for Living An Edited Life

Unless you’ve been living under a big, not-so-black rock, you know at least something about Burning Man. Beginning the last Monday in August in the desert of northern Nevada, the week-long extravaganza has become synonymous for all things crazy and spontaneous.

But underneath the irreverence and incomprehensibility are lessons we can all take home–lessons that make life simpler, more functional and happier. Here are a but a few:

  1. Use what you need.  You think different about consumption when you have to port a week’s worth of stuff in and out of the desert. Ask yourself, “What if I had to pack everything I needed to live for a week into a car?” Would you take that apple peeler or might you use a pocket knife? On the other hand, we might decide that we can’t live without that 104 ft effigy. This use-what-you-need principle also applies to the amount of space we need. Personal space is a joke at BM, yet people live joyfully together. This is not to suggest we give up personal space altogether, but it might suggest that we often put too high a premium on it and undervalue personal connection via physical compression.
  2. We have what we need when we share. Burning Man is almost totally non-commercial, relying on a “gift economy.” People exchange food and wares (and many other things) without a single dollar changing hands. Back at home, your neighbors might get sick of you mooching dinner every night, but they might not mind lending you their muffin pans or power drill. Sharing enables human connection and less stuff to be used more.
  3. Architecture is anything you want it to be. You don’t necessarily want to live in a 120 ft hexagonal temple, but looking at the Burning Man structures shows that anything is possible with a little imagination. We are not bound to particular architectural rules and orthodoxies. We can create where and how we want to live in the future.

Are you a Burner? What have you learned from BM that makes your life simpler and happier?

image via JoJo Electro

This post was originally published on April 20, 2012