The fellow who answered the question above gets high marks for cleverness, but he got no points on the quiz. I love the joke because it’s a good reminder that we can get carried away with trying to simplify. The ideal amount is going to depend on the individual and the circumstances.
The Dali Lama’s ideal is more sparse than mine. He says,
If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.
—The Dalai Lama
Sorry, that wouldn’t work for me. I had that as a kid, and there was a time I was severely depressed because of the lack of mental stimulation and meaningful challenges. Nope, I never wanted to feel that way again, and one of my main goals in life was to create a life for myself that was mentally richer. That’s why I’m such a believer in the idea of optimizing stress:
Too little challenge in life can be as harmful to our health as too much, the trick is to find the optimum level for ourselves. Sometimes we have to drop some things, sometimes we have to add them. I dropped a lot of projects the past 19 months because of the fire. Now that part of my life has settled down and I’m starting to get back to the projects I dropped and to get involved in new ones. I’m grateful that I get to choose — I don’t take that freedom for granted. What about you? Do you have too much or too little challenge in your life, or are you at about the optimal level?