For years I have “endured” the minimal lifestyle sometimes that is just what life brings you. I have also been fortunate enough to basically have all of my needs meet plus. Am I a millionaire, no but do I really need to be?
And while I am becoming a millionaire how am I impacting the earth? What kind of example am I setting for me kids?
These questions and more have led me down the path of look more closely at my lifestyle. I wanted to look at a complete holistic view. How am I impacting the earth and others? How is my lifestyle impacting me and my spirituality? What can I do to tread lighter and great a greater impact all at the same time.
Easy answers… no. but most importantly I am finding the holistic balance for me, where do I draw the lines?
That is why I have been spending so much time in study, the more I study the more I can learn and evolve my lifestyle into the perfect balance for me.
That brings us to the big question, what is a minimalist life?
Leo speaks of it as “one (a life) that is stripped of the unnecessary, to make room for that which gives you joy.” I love this definition. To me it is all about the mindset! It is not that you can’t have the things that you want, it is that you pick the things you love the most and only allow them to enter your life.
This is true whether it is a 1968 Mustang or the freedom to travel to a new country every year. What is important you, becomes that which you allow into your minimal life.
Then you get rid of the rest, you don’t need it so why keep it.
Leo’s take on the minimal principles:
The Minimalist Principles
There are some key principles we’ll be repeating throughout this book, in various forms. It’s important to list them here:
1. Omit needless things. Notice this doesn’t say to omit everything. Just needless things.
2. Identify the essential. What’s most important to you? What makes you happy? What will have the highest impact on your life, your career?
3. Make everything count. Whatever you do or keep in your life, make it worthy of keeping. Make it really count.
4. Fill your life with joy. Don’t just empty your life. Put something wonderful in it.
5. Edit, edit. Minimalism isn’t an end point. It’s a constant process of editing, revisiting, editing some more.
As I have been studying this book, I am realizing that I have been on the path for quite some time. It really has been a journey. When we moved to our current location it was a great time to get rid of a lot of “stuff” that just wasn’t necessary any longer.
As we were unpacking more “stuff” was removed. Shhh don’t tell any one, but every time my significant other is called away on business, I make sure to make a point pick something, a closet, a drawer, even just a box. Then I sort it, store what needs to be and get rid of what is no longer needed.
I will continue to do this as often as I can, I know there is a “junk drawer” in the kitchen calling my name.
To me contentment with your current life and gratitude for all you have just create an amazing feeling of life love. I feel awesome every time I think about just how wonderful my life is, just the way it is, the idea that by releasing even more “stuff” will increase that feeling is over powering and one of the main reasons I am studying so intently.
Do we even really need everything we have? I am not trying to tell you, you don’t. I just think we don’t often think about the real need. We think about our neighbours, we think about our convenience, but do we really think about the ACTUAL practical need.
For the last 25 years I have leaved in such a way that I did not NEED a car, I sometimes had one, but I never actually needed one. Right now in my current life, we made the decision not to have one, if a particular circumstance arises that we could use a car, we just go out and rent one or borrow one. Very simple to do! no excuses. I have done this with small children as well. It is possible if you live in a city with good public transit.
When the time comes that I decide to buy a car I will and I will think long and hard about getting the car that fits my needs. Not the fastest, the newest, the coolest, the most impressive, the one that fits my needs.
It is not really about whether you have or have not, it is about whether you made a conscious decision based on what you love, what you want to create, what you want to impact.
Time as a “thing”
Most don’t think of time as a “thing” that can be changed or directed, even though we have no control over the passage of time, we do control how we use our time. We can decide to only do the things we love, with the people we love in the place we love.
Yep, another thing that really has no excuse attached to it, most of us have responsibilities of some kind, kids, cats, significant others etc… but we get caught up in doing the same old thing. We don’t challenge how we think, we don’t challenge the norm. Who told you that you had to work a 9-5 job in downtown that you have to commute an hour both ways?
Have you ever really thought about how that could change? In this day and age it is even easier to telecommute or change jobs or move. You have many many choices if you allow them to present themselves to you.
Fight the fear of uncluttering
I know a several people right on the top of my head that are “hoarders”, I think that my Grandmother was the worst. I loved grandma dearly but OMG she had way too much stuff. I do understand that people who have grown up with less or suffered a great deal use this to protect themselves.
People attached their happiness or their value to the things they have and they could never ever think of allowing any of it to go.
I would agree that it is a process, a mind shift from this attachment to the realization that we are awesome amazing people regardless of how much “stuff” we have! When people are able to make this shift they are able to feel a whole new level of contentment and satisfaction with their life.
I have to say that a minimal life was much easier 10 years ago, I had 4 kids living at home, but I was the only adult and got to make all the decisions 🙂
There definitely was a little bit of “can’t afford that” and some of “that is too much stuff to pack” from those days, I remember when I could move with just a pickup truck!
While that is gone, the kids are grown and I have a wonderful significant other with an awesome life. We definitely have more “stuff” now. Many of the things that I have done so far to create more organized, more simplified life he has gone along with, he has even picked up the storage boxes and sorted his stuff too. I am lucky. I do think there are always areas of personal improvement whether or not you have the cooperation of you living mates. Some things you just need to do for you. And balance out the rest. Your personal contentment and peace in the house is always a balancing act, this is just another thing.
The book goes on to list steps and examples of how to get organized in several areas of your life, your home, your workspace, your computer, your travel, your food, your fitness and your finance.
Over the next 3 months as I work on my simplified and organized life, I will test out some of the examples. I will pick the ones that feel good and work for me and leave behind the needless ones.
Whatever you reason for studying the minimal lifestyle, this book is a good place to start.
Check out some other great articles to get you on your way.
5 Simple Ways to become a Minimalist today – http://lifeexcursion.com/index.php/5-simple-ways-to-become-a-minimalist-today/
How to live with just 100 things – http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1812048,00.html