Trappings – Walden and The Four-Hour Workweek

 

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Minimalism is not for everyone. No lifestyle is for everyone.

But damn is there some strong literature that suggests we take stock of everything that we own, and everything that we do, and ask ourselves, do I need this?

Do I need this job? That’s the question being asked in The Four-Hour Workweek.

But to this day, readers still think that Tim Ferriss is asking, do I need a job? Do I need a job and do I need this job are two different questions with two different answers: Yes to the former, no to the latter.

No to the latter because if you’re seriously considering the question, then the job has you trapped.

And trappings are exactly what Henry David Thoreau is writing about in the beginning of Walden – a book that Tim Ferriss recommended at the end of The Four-Hour Workweek. (An overlooked chapter of the book.)

The stronger we identify with possessions and habits, the thicker the chains. We often tell ourselves, “I’m this way. I can’t do it that way.” Or, “I’ve had this [object/habit] for years. Why give it up now?”

But underneath the question of “do I need this job?” is the question of, “why do I feel trapped by this job?”

And so you dig deeper, revealing to yourself all the ways in which you ended up in this position that you don’t like anymore. It’s a scary psychological place. It’s just not fun to admit to yourself that you’ve succeeded your way into a trap.

What to do? Return to the original question. Do I need this? 99 times out of 100, your first answer will be, “yes I need this because I need that.”

Then, something annoying happens.

A new question comes up.

“Wait,” you ask yourself. “Do I need that?”

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