Less is more. More time, more money, more freedom. The less stuff we own, the less stuff to take care of, the less stuff to be stressed about and the less stuff to distract us from our calling in life. This is what we need to think about before every purchase: How will this make me achieve my goals? Will it help me achieve my goals? Do I need it now?
There are a few different minimalist online that even suggest waiting 30 days before any major purchases. I think this is a fairly good strategy as it really teaches discipline – which is undoubtedly missing in the first place. At least it is for me. I am a man of little discipline, granted more than probably most people from my generation, but not where I want to be. I find that when I have the urge to purchase something, I simply open my iphone calender, set a date for 30 days in the future, and put in the item there. Currently the items I have in this calender are:
- Bike trainer – Very close to buying one. So I can bike indoors during the winter (after 10 days realize I probably won’t need or buy one)
- A new kindle book reader – I have one now, but you know.. consumption (probably won’t buy now)
- Bose Quietcomfort headphones – would be nice (realise I probably don’t need them considering I have other headphones and don’t listen to music)
The struggle is real
I am currently still in my ”phasing out” stage of my minimalist journey. I have tested minimalism out, I know and love the effects of being minimalist. I have sold off and given away most of my belongings, and now I am in the stage of replacing several items with one.
When you start your journey into minimalism you will notice rather quickly how many useless items you have lying around, or should I say that become useless. For me I found that I have many items that serve the same purpose: To steal my time and attention.In fact that is the sole purpose of a lot of items in my house. TV, iPad, MacBook, iPhone, books, magazines, my Lp’s. All of these items main purpose is to keep me occupied, to dampen my boredom and keep me stimulated. No wonder I have a hard time focusing on anything in particular, and when I do, its for short periods of time. I have ADHD from my own choices.
In this stage of my minimalist journey I am simply going around my house and seeing what I can and should get rid of. Do I really need three iPhones, two iPads, an iMac, macbook and two Tvs? Probably not. So I replace all of my devices with a Macbook and one iPhone.
Do I need 900 books piled in three rooms? Of course not. So I have phased out most of my books, donating and selling them. I now have 20 books left, ones that I really appreciate having. Books that I could read over and over, or books that I use as a reference for my writing, or books that I plan to read within a short amount of time. Novels I like to read in my kindle, while books on politics and reference I prefer in paper form. As far as digital books go, I prefer even to keep this distraction at a minimum and delete books that I haven’t read yet or already read and keep only the book I plan on reading at the moment.
What about clothes? I always thought of myself as a rather simple person when it came to clothes, but I found even here I had boxes of unused clothes that I could phase out. Again I donated boxes and boxes until I came down to just 6 black t-shirts, two pairs of jeans, two sweaters and a pair of shoes. Just this simple routine saves me probably up to an hour a week of useless stressing. That stress of wondering if this matches that, or how does this make me look, I wish that t-shirt was washed. Screw it, all my shirts are the same and they are all my favorites.
Even my photography has benefited from a minimalist approach. No more stressing about what lens, camera and bag to bring. I have just one camera bag, one camera and two lenses. I know the focal lengths that I can use, I have them programmed in my head, my bag fits the equipment I have perfectly. And my camera will always work great for me.
I even phased out all of my backpacks, messengers and other such garbage that I happened to collect over the last 15 years of my life. I literally had several messenger bags in my closet from when I first moved to Sweden. 16 years ago. All of these bags, suitcases and messenger bags have been replaced by one single bag that I use both daily and for when I travel. After all, why do I need a suitcase when all I own is 5 t-shirts?
By having less I know exactly what I own and what I am capable of. As in backpacking I know exactly what is in my backpack at all times and what I can and can’t do with the gear that I have. By knowing exactly what I own, I don’t have to speculate which means my consuming habits aren’t as ”spontaneous or mindless”. Instead my consuming habits tend to focus more on what I might actually need and how it can help me. Before when I didn’t have a clue about what I owned it wasn’t unusual for me to purchase something just so I wouldn’t have to go digging in boxes and closets after the exact same item. I would purchase items that I knew I possibly owned already but wasn’t sure and I purchased items because I thought I ”needed” them.
When all you own is 5 black t-shirts than your fairly confident that if you get invited to a suit and tie dinner that your going to have to rent a suit. My point? By knowing what you have it’s a hell of a lot easier to control your consumption. Everything becomes a practice in mindfulness.
And if all else fails you can always start doing meditation with the following mantra:
There is more to me than there appears to be, all the worlds strength and power rests inside of me
I read that once in a book called the ”monk who sold his Ferrari”. It’s stuck with me over the years, apparently its a mantra thats helps with self discipline.
To sum it up:
We have so much to gain from being in the now, from truly digesting what is happening around us instead of trying to plow through it with different stimulations. Minimalism forces us to truly understand where we are, who we are and what we have. It forces us to turn off the constant stream of propaganda being injected into our brains, and by cutting the wire we are able to formulate ideas for ourselves. While I am still in the phasing out stage I can truly say that the effects are instant and constant. My once in a life time productivity rates and focus is now becoming my constant, there is nothing to distract me from my goals. Once you start realizing the benefits of a minimalists lifestyle, staying away from shops and consuming less becomes a given. Why go back when looking forward is so amazing?
I will end this article with a piece written by Chris Hedges over at Truthdig.org1. I think this really does sum up the current state of mind in the world today.
The quest for identity through mass culture is self-defeating. We can never achieve what these illusions tell us we can achieve. We can never be who we want to be. It is a ceaseless chase from one chimera to the next. And this is why at the end we fall into despair and rage. It is why huge parts of the country no longer hold genuine political ideas. It is why people vote according to how they feel. It is why hatred and fear are a potent political platform. It is why we are sleepwalking into oblivion.