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The Good Life [Books
Posted on October 24, 2017 @ 09:02:00 AM by Paul Meagher

One of the first essays I had to write in my intro philosophy class was to choose a theory of the good life and argue for why it was the right way to live.

Some of our choices included hedonism, stoicism, epicurianism, utilitarianism and other options that I can't remember. I do remember selecting epicurianism as the best route to the good life. I gave some serious thought to hedonism and stoicism as well.

I'm mentioning this because I recently purchased a book that is currently being recommended on David Holmgren's site called The Art of Frugal Hedonism. It is a modern spin on how to live the good life. Frugal Hedonism seems to me very similiar to my concept of epicurianism minus the high cost of entry.

The book consists of 50 short chapters with ideas and strategies you can use to become a frugal hedonist. This approach to living has the benefit of being sustainable and enjoyable at the same time.

Many startups are no stranger to frugal living. Frugal living extends the runway for your business and the length of that runway is often directly related to how frugal you can be while the startup is not generating enough income to live the high life. Be careful about wishing for the high life too soon, because you may not experience the same level of enjoyment from a simple beer with friends, walking or biking to wherever you have to go, or a cheap night with friends. It doesn't take much to make you happy when you are used to just getting by as frugally as you can.

David Holmgren is on record as pursuing a life of voluntary frugality so part of the reason he is recommending the book is probably because it aligns in part with his own approach, and perhaps explains the many unrecognized benefits of this lifestyle beyond simply being a sustainable way to live.

For many, the good life is a house, two cars, and all the consumerist items that the catalogs say we need in order to live the good life. There is little evidence that people are happier compared to people who get by on less but have more time, more interests, more friends and other things of equal or more value than money. Getting off the treadmill and consuming less is likely to lead to more enjoyment with life than trying to keep up with the Jones.

Does this mean that entrepreneurs must give up their pursuit of money because it is an overly consumptive way to live? If it is only about making money so you can get all the toys, then frugal hedonism would predict that you will not be happy - you will adapt to ever higher levels of consumerism to try to achieve a disappearing rainbow of enjoyment. If you recognize that money is just the way we keep score but is not the end goal of living, then I think you have a better chance of leading the good life which could be inspired by frugal hedonism.

Frugal hedonism carries the hopeful message that leading a sustainable existence might also be the surest route to the good life. Whether this is true or not is a question worthy of thinking about and this book is a guide to the options, strategies, and joys associated with living a less consumerist existence. And when you do make a choice to consume, you might be more mindful of why you are consuming and what it means to you.

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