Do you need that?

I’m old enough to remember “a time before the Internet.” Remember that time?

Yes, there was a time — and really, it wasn’t that long ago — when we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Postmates, Lyft, iTunes, and all of the thousands of helpful, delightful, miraculous tools that we have today.

There was a time when most people didn’t have cellphones. I remember that time. For me, it was called “high school.”

I love technology. I enjoy having a website. Spotify has changed my life. However, I often find myself wondering, “Do we really need all these things that we think we need?”

The human brain is fascinating. Our brains are infinitely creative. And yet, our brains can also fall into rigid, hypnotic, repetitive tracks of thought. We experience something five, ten, fifteen times, and then we decide, “I couldn’t possibly live without this. This is my life now. This is the way it is.”

But is that actually true?

One of my favorite questions is, “Do I have to?”

Another question that I love is, “Do I need that?”

Also, “Could there be another way?”

And also, “What would happen if I just… stopped?”

Would the world come crashing to an end? Would my income disappear? Would there be a slew of dire consequences? Or… maybe not?

Here are some interesting questions to think about or discuss with a friend:

— Do you need to use social media? What would happen if you took a break for one month? One season? One year? Maybe forever?

— Do you need a cellphone? Are you sure? (20 years ago, almost nobody had a cellphone, and yet somehow everyone dated, fell in love, found apartments, got jobs, ran businesses, fed and clothed themselves, navigated through cities, and survived.)

— Do you need a website? (I know a self-employed massage therapist who’s booked solid and she doesn’t have a website. She gets clients through word-of-mouth referrals.)

— Do you need a Netflix account, and also Hulu, Amazon Prime TV, HBONow, etc.?

— Do you need a gym membership? (What if the local park became your gym? Or a hiking trail? Or your living room?)

— Do you need a house / apartment? (I know a married couple who spent a year traveling across America in an Airstream trailer with 4 dogs.)

— Do you need a career? (Is it possible that “work” isn’t the most important thing about life?)

— Do you need to run a blog? Do you need to write a book? Do you need to write anything at all? (Maybe there’s another way you could express the ideas that you want to express.)

— Do you need to create an e-book, an e-course, an online community, or some other virtual product / class / experience? Do you really want to?

— Do you need to live in the place where you live?

— Do you need to have children? (Not everyone does.)

— Do you need to go to the dentist? (OK, yes, you probably do need to go to the dentist.)

Maybe you need all of those things. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you want some of those things and not others.

The key, I think, is to keep asking these kinds of questions. To stay awake and curious, not complacent. It’s so easy to get lulled into the undertow of “what everybody else is doing.” (And what everybody else is “feeling” and “insisting” and “launching” and “saying.”)

But what about you? Do you have to? Do you need to? Could there be another way? There usually is, if we open our eyes and minds to the possibility.

Like Albert Einstein once wrote on a chalkboard (Or did he? Maybe it’s an image that was doctored by Photoshop): “Question everything.”

There are 7 billion people on planet earth, and 7 billion paths to happiness, health, and peace of mind. Many roads. Many journeys. We don’t necessarily all need to drive the same car. Speaking of which… Owning a car.

Do you need that?