Love People. Use Things. The Opposite Never Works. – The Minimalist
I discovered the Minimalism documentary and The Minimalist themselves about one year ago. I’ve tried to apply the principles of Minimalism to every facet of our lives over the past year. Yes, we got rid of a bunch of stuff; the average household has over 300,000 items in it. I also paired down my clothing to a life uniform. I’ve structured and limited the number of blog posts I write. The list goes on and on. What’s most important is that I’ve actually been able to get more done and pursue ideas I’ve long put off by cutting out the excess.
I like to believe that in some ways I’ve always been Minimalist at my core. In some respects driven by necessity; I wasn’t born rich. In other cases, driven by choice. I argue there is an intrinsic sophistication in ideas represented in simple forms. That’s partly why I’ve always loved Apple products. The less is more approach. The rocks in the featured image represent the “things” and “noise” I had stacked on top of my self and carried with me. Capping my experiences.
Even for all that, I’ve been as wrapped up in the consumerist mindset as the next person. I was one of the worst consumers ever. I was always having to have the latest gadget. I leased a new car every few years, and definitely spending more than I should have on things with no long term value. I bought all the things that represented society’s preferred lifestyle. And then in 2014, cancer entered our lives. This event started the process of removing the first rock from the stack.
- If you are free of material obligations and lifestyles then you are free to pursue a life without limits.
- It’s not just about stark white walls and empty spaces; it’s about peace of mind.
- Consumerism offers only short-term satisfaction and no long-term meaning or purpose.
- Head outside, and seek the experiential Life.
I remember laying on a beach in Kauai with her a month before her impending surgery. I fell into a deep nap and when I awoke she was laying next to me quiet and serene. It was only us, the crash of the waves, and the call of a seagull some distance away in the horizon. I knew at that moment I needed nothing else in life, and that it was time to re-evaluate what was important.
After her surgery and recover we reevaluated everything. We asked ourselves a lot of questions. Should stay in California? Do we still not want to have kids? What’s ok to eat? When can we exhale and say all this worry is over? We’re are still weighing some of these questions but are a lot more clarity on what the big picture is. That image is one of a lifestyle of freedom and informed adaptation. A life made made possible because we are not weighed down by things or distracted by clutter.
Then came the 2016 election and the fallout from that. It was in the struggle to make sense of what came next that I sought to shut off the noise in my head. I laid out a plan to get to a clear space.
The Digital Purge
- Delete as many applications I could that I did not need from my devices.
- Turn off the myriad of notifications coming from all the electronic toys I had.
- Unsubscribe from every email and subscription service I could.
- Stay off of or cancel social media accounts.
- Close as many bank accounts and credit cards as I could.
- Take a look at Digital Detox. They offer lifestyle retreats with no electronics and activities that help with self-discovery.
The most important things have come to the forefront for me after trying most of these tips. I also found more time to reconnect with the friendships I had neglected. One of those connections helped kick off phase three.
One of my oldest friends introduced me to The Minimalist. We were exchanging thoughts on how we were responding to the election. I told him about my digital purge and he told me to check out their documentary. Watch that film kicked off a whole new level of insight.
- People First – friends, family, and strangers.
- Philanthropy – it takes a village.
- Travel – the world is bigger than your neighborhood.
- Experiential Life – don’t stand still.
- Cut out the people who detract and pour energy into those that invest in you.
- Double down on charitable contributions and support more organizations.
- Plan far out and go places we have never been.
- Learn new things and stop putting off what you want to do one day.
- Cleaned up social media connections, started responding faster to communications, be present.
- Tripled our budget for charitable donations and joined Big Brothers Big Sisters.
- Went to Spain and planning more 9-14 day trips. Going on trips even if it means taking unpaid leave.
- I worked to stave off my consumerist instincts. Instead I put blogging, music, language learning, reading and everything else first.
After getting to what seems the base. There is so much more you can still do to get further down to the core. Besides, Minimalism is a journey not a destination. You should develop various techniques through trial and error to see what works best for you. Below are some best practices I have picked up during my own Minimalist journey.
Automating Your Life
Start using services to free up your time. InstaCart, Valet Dry Cleaning, Landscaping companies, housekeeping. $15 an hour. 3 hours to maintain your landscaping weekly. $60 for a service to do it. Don’t look at the cost of not doing yourself, look at it as paying to free up the time to pursue a passion. Imagine how much you can do with that extra three hours a week. You could use the time to learn a language, an instrument, practice art, be outdoors, or more. The opportunity cost of not pursuing your passion. You may lose out on the dollars saved using coupons, but you could spend the InstaCart saves you at the gym.
Have a Packing Party and Digitize Everything
- Avoid email subscriptions. It’s liberating to wake up to and come back to an empty inbox.
- DO NOT USE Unroll.me, as they read and copy your email content. Instead unsubscribe and close web accounts you no longer use.
- If you can, dump Google altogether. No company does more to mine user data and sell it, which turns into more digital clutter and anxiety.
- Always disable notifications if at all possible.
- Use tools like “Waste No Time” and “Moment” to track your usage and limit social media. Or delete it all together.
- Use a VPN and stay logged out of sites to throw advertisers off.
- Get your news in summary fashion. Like the NPR – Up First Podcast.
Fight the Consumerist Urge
- Get rid of all those Credit Cards. You only need one account, or two if you have an Amex or Discover. They are another path to the prison of debt. In fact, Google has started to track your credit card spending to tie into advertising.
- Look at “Sales” and “Discounts” as traps to get you to spend what you were not planning to already.
- Repair don’t Replace.
- Associate big ticket purchases with trading off for a value you won’t be able to maintain.
- You should also read “The Aisles Have Eyes.” If you want to see the sick games companies play on us and ask yourself if you want to be a willing participant.
- Part of this push to track everything has to do with the slow death of retail. A recent Credit Suisse report mentions that up to 25% of US malls will close by 2024.
Creating a Clothing Capsule:
- 6 pairs of shoes
- 7 bottoms
- 14 tops
- 3 suits
- 3 blazers/coats
- Total Pieces – 39
- See Project 333 for more information.
- Try the Same Clothes Test: Wear the same outfit 5 days in a row and see if anyone at work says anything.
Minimalism represents time and balance for me. The time to do and experience all the things I want. Along with finding the discipline to not let what other people define as import dominate my time. For me, that means cutting out the “noise” of life more than getting rid of things. It requires being ok with earning less, having less, but definitely experiencing more.
The Minimalism Formula to Time: Free up time by cutting out the things that don’t matter. Use services to automate your life and make more time for your hobbies. InstaCart for groceries, house keeping services, landscapers, etc.
There is no end to the Minimalism journey. It’s a struggle to stay vigilant in the face of advertising and social influences. Moreover, all things change in a dynamic environment, which includes you. As you change, so do your values and goals. What adds value you in your life today may change. The car you don’t need today may be a necessity if you end up with three kids and two dogs.
- Keep turning down the noise of Social Media, television, news, alerts, and even people.
- Identifying what matters most and what you can live without.
- Identifying what in your life aligns today and supports your values.
- Letting go of everything that keeps you from achieving goals and living by your values.