Life is Simple

‘Life is simple if you do what you need to, not what you want to’

The statement above is from a quote I heard the other day. If considering the fact that doing what we need to is a simple choice then the statement is the easiest quote to live by. Except it’s not. Take for example in a party, a lot of people may drink or have a laugh with their mates because they want too, it doesn’t necessarily have any development within. This is something which Mill discussed when talking about Utilitarianism as he suggested that we should do what is seen as ‘higher pleasures’ which seem to have a development of our intuition or a development in the way we Philosophise such as creating a painting has connotations of developing ourselves and understanding the perception of the world around us whereas the drinking at a party is considered a ‘lower pleasure’ which is just seen as pointless and therefore isn’t a necessity. Yet, is this really what Mill wanted? saying that he wants us all to have this individuality where we should be free to do what we want as long as it isn’t harming anybody, then we ask the question when thinking of bringing the most ‘pleasure/happiness’ is by doing what we want? So, is this not a contradiction of Mill? As he wants to develop ourselves by philosophising and doing what we feel free to do but then is not developing at all? as they will be ‘lower pleasure’? My brain hurts.

It is said that Life is simple so what is it that makes it so simple? the thought of being able to be free? Or the idea of being able to follow orders and live by rules that make everything we do easier? Two different points of view can be noticed and the second perhaps a more authoritarian viewpoint but if one considers living by all the rules, would we then be able to have this idea of all being one? If rules considered helping others and contributing to society and therefore aren’t rules of order but rules of development to the world. This concept would then take into the idea of sustainability into our world with a world of which we continue to live by the ‘need’ to develop. However, if this concept of having more open rules were put in place then what’s to say the rules could be taken advantage of as surely it would have to be a dictatorship to apply this idea? Then, what’s to say that due to the idea of being in this agentic state, a leader could easily turn the world upside down into a worse state than it currently is? So a simple idea of living in order could simply be put into a destruction. There goes that idea.

The option seems to be bringing forward a world of which we have freedom when not harming anyone so what about this for an idea? One would believe that there would definitely be a new generation of creativity and individuality but then we come onto the idea of control. If we are all free to do so without harm to others, when does this line end. With this idea, if someone wanted to go and eat 100 cheeseburgers for the sheer joy then is this then causing harm to a vegetarian? Or is this just an offence? Now Mill said that offence is not harm but when does it begin to be harm? When someone is physically hurt? Or mentally hurt? someone could easily be hurtling abuse at one another yet no physical harm is brought? Is Mill considering the mental attributes? One would then believe that for there to be a world of which individuality exists then would surely have to have some form of order in this society to decipher the rate of harm? Or is this just bringing the two together with order and freedom. Yet, this  is surely what we need in our world? To be able to bring together a cultural society in order but not so more restrained so no creativity is there. A world where peace should be found and united because the society we live in could be a simple concept where we are able to contribute and develop but one is lead to continue a thought we are held back in our development. This shown by the world clearly not being united but will that ever happen? Possibly… once everyone realises the sheer problem of climate change and our population but ah well, another day for that.

In conclusion, life is simple, to do what we need to, not what we want to is too broad a statement to be able to follow. Yes, it would make sense to develop ourselves as philosophers by only following the ‘higher pleasures’ Mill so calls about but without the ‘lower pleasures’ which have no concept of development and understanding of the world, then we have no freedom and individuality because lower pleasures seem to make us happy, one understands that all of us giving to charity is a purity desired but it is long term happiness which doesn’t necessarily have an impact on ourselves. Therefore a mix needs to be divided between higher and lower as yes, we should give to charity for the principle of utility which Mill created(where we do things for the greatest happiness) would say it calls more overall happiness but having the lower pleasures such as eating a lovely cheeseburger creates this mix of happiness which is the perfect mix. Yet, this probably wouldn’t happen, one can hope.

let me know what you think or any questions you fancy answering.

Keep updated,



  1. Well said, Baines! Coincidentally, I had an article and discussion just last week titled “Interdependence and Happiness” at my “shared” blog as well on interdependence, short para on needs vs excessive wants, with climate change as the example. Around the blog, a little along the same lines of thinking with your article above: my key word is “excessive” and the point is that at this tech level, we can provide for the basic needs of all (inclusive of basic opportunity), manage climate change etc, but not for the wants of all.

    Seeing it as more of a culture change, and an achievable and practical balance of togetherness and meritocracy, while preserving a great deal of individuality. Not the removal of all wants, but the comparatively small but necessary re-allocation of resources to important areas … Will be interesting if you drop by to share your views with everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi cicorm, glad to see you enjoyed my article, I shall check out the discussion later today and will drop my viewpoints in. I like the idea of being able to provide for needs but not wants as when considering a ‘want’, it’s a much wider used term which can easily vary in different cultures. So by keeping certain individual aspects to keep the creativity but by reducing the overall wants ,it could be a good mixture. I think you’re onto something 😉 I’ll drop by and join the discussion! Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your article too, Brian! Btw, “defining the proverbial cup” may be an appropriate article to read together with. Re:increasing contentment through lowering high expectations (from excessive wants). With this, the goodwill (and resources) to settle important collective issues can achieved.

        Just to share upfront/avoid mis-comm, I do think that at a personal level, the personal choice for gratitude and to trim excessive wants will result in a smaller personal resource strain to achieve quite consistent (but not 24h) personal happiness; bonus happiness being surplus, improvements and giving back etc. Probably allowing for better focus for what’s important, but need not be taken to the extreme. But it is purely a personal choice: it works for many, and the how to’s can be shared.

        Liked by 1 person

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