Why The Happy Medium Is Better Than Either Extreme

I don’t like to have too much stuff. But I don’t like to not have what I need either. Living with less is good. Most Americans have way more than they need. But living with almost nothing is silly. I’m not Buddhist, but there is a happy medium.

I took a class on the religions of India when I was in college. It was interesting. We studied Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Personally, I’m a Christian, but I can really relate with what Buddhism refers to as The Middle Way.

The Middle Way

When Buddha saw suffering for the first time he was deeply disturbed to see death and misery in the world. He gave up his place in the darkness of night and set out to find out the cause of all suffering. 

As was the custom of the day, he gave up all worldly possessions and started living the life of an ascetic. To the extent that he tortured his body in his quest for the divine revelation. While doing so, he grew so weak in the body so as to be near death.

However, after having done so, he realized that exaggerated asceticism was not required to attain enlightenment. All the same, he was convinced that a person living a luxurious life might not be able to see things in the right perspective. – from zen-buddhism.net

As a Christian I think this argument makes just as much sense as it does from a Buddhist perspective. 

Doing anything to an extreme takes our focus away from our source. As a Christian, that source is Jesus. If I focus more on things of the world, I focus less on Jesus. All the material things become idols. But if I focus on minimalism to its extreme, I make minimalism itself an idol. Both ends of the spectrum are extreme.

The Happy Medium Is The Best Place You Can Be

Like the Buddhist philosophy, I believe in a middle way of sorts. I like to call it The Happy Medium. For me, taking a centered approach to minimalism and life helps me on my Christian journey, too. But you don’t have to be a Christian to see the logic in finding the happy medium.

For me, the happy medium leans more toward austerity, but it does not dwell upon completely limiting oneself. When we focus on creating our own limits we focus too much on the self. If we truly want to share the message of simple living, we need to focus on others.  

The happy medium is neither:

  • Fast nor slow
  • Ecstatic nor depressed 
  • High nor low
  • Materialist nor minimalist

The happy medium is simply a balancing point. It’s living within our means, focusing on our needs, and being okay with a few extra comforts. But the happy medium is never excessive, elaborate, or loud. The happy medium is stable, healthy, and good.

This Is Why I Call Myself A Moderate Minimalist

I don’t like to go to extremes. I like to find balance. On my about page, I refer to myself as a Moderate Minimalist. I encourage you to consider your own happy medium. That place might be different for each individual. But it’s there, it’s always present, and it’s a good place to be.

Dan Erickson


James Ewen
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