#145 - Feature: Minimalist Thought Experiment

3 minute read

Motto: This Line Doesn't Really Need to Be Here.

I was going to preface this post with an explanation of "thought experiments", but why reexplain the wheel? 

From Wikipedia:

thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment (from German) considers some hypothesistheory,[1] or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. Given the structure of the experiment, it may or may not be possible to actually perform it, and, in the case that it is possible for it to be performed, there need be no intention of any kind to actually perform the experiment in question. The common goal of a thought experiment is to explore the potential consequences of the principle in question.

Before I get into the content of my experiment - I want to give you a bit of background: 

I recently moved. Everytime you move, no matter how much stuff you have, you will inevitably think "why do I need all this crap?!?"

That question fits in line with a ton of themes from my life (see the quotes for a brief list) that combine to form a much more fundamental question:

"What are the bare essentials that you would actually have to have to live a comfortable, happy life." 

Answering that question is my experiment. Note that the question is not "what are the bare essentials to live. This isn't a survival scenario-type question. What do you need to live out your version of a happy life? Here's a brief version of my answer:

A quick diagram I made, not representative of the list, but something to look at.

  • 1 small studio-type house, about the size of a railroad car
  • 1 motor vehicle, parked in your house with everything else
  • 1 toilet
    • Toilet paper & plunger
  • 1 shower
    • Body and 2-in-1 hair soaps
    • 2 bath towels (I don't like using damp bath towels)
  • 1 sink
    • Hand soap & towel
    • Dish soap & brush
  • 1 oven/stove, one or two burners would be enough
  • 1 refrigerator
    • 2 Nalgene bottles (so you can always have one in the fridge)
  • 1 couch, on which you can sit and sleep
  • 1 desk, on which you can work and eat
  • 1 ottoman, to use for leg propping, sitting, and storage
  • 1 small and 1 large version of the following:
    • Bowls, plates, glasses, Tupperware
  • 1 large pan, pot, and baking tin
  • 1 spoon, 1 fork, 1 knife
  • 1 bicycle
  • 1 messenger bag
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 7 shirts
  • 1 pair of boots
  • 1 pair of running shoes
  • 1 medium-to-high end laptop
  • 1 external monitor, which doubles as your television
  • 1 smartphone
  • 1 multitool
  • 1 box of GoPro-related stuff
  • 1 box of medical supplies & toiletries
  • 1 tool box
  • 1 box of camping equipment (I like camping more than I let on)
  • Ongoing gas, electric, water, internet, and smartphone connections
That is a slightly condensed version of the full list (which goes down into exact medical supplies and toiletries, tool box components, camping box components). It contains several things nobody really needs, but I'm confident it isn't missing anything I couldn't live without.

So, what are the things you need to live the kind of life you want? Why do you have anything else?

Top 5: Obvious Things I Could Leave Off My List
5. One of the Nalgene bottles or bath towels
4. The bicycle or motor vehicle, depending upon where I'd live
3. The GoPro stuff. Nobody needs a GoPro. But I really like making videos and I really like my GoPro.
2. The External Monitor.
1. Really, everything but the camping stuff. I could get by with that for a while.

“Generations have been working in jobs they hate, just so they can buy what they don't really need.”
- Tyler Durden, from 
Chuck Palahniuk's book 'Fight Club' -

“Aaron, I really admire how much you appreciate useful tools.”
- Josh, from a couple years back

“It's about what things people perceive are so important that they feel the need to carry them daily”
- r/EDC, the subreddit I used to read more than any others

“I'd rather want something I don't have than have something that I don't want.”
- My mantra/epiphany from a couple months back