Do you like a clean slate or a slate scribbled with random chalk marks?
I chose to have a clean slate.
In the month of October 2013, I started contemplating on the way I wanted to live my life. One gaze around my apartment and I realized something very troubling. I had many material things, which I bought consciously, which I hardly put to use. Some I bought for fun, while others to improve my personality. I might have appreciated having them when I first bought them, but as time passed their utility in my life faded away.
Every day I returned from office, these things lying around my apartment started to make me feel guilty. Guilty for buying something I did not really need. Guilty for putting up with all the anxiety before buying them. This constant guilt started to bother me deeply. So, I started questioning the value these things added into my life. Sadly the answer was “they were not important anymore”, in-fact they only made me feel more as a materialist, trying to hold on to things.
Some days later, I came across a term called “minimalism”. I started researching and studying this topic/way of life. As I read about the people practicing this lifestyle, it started making sense to me. “Less is more” is the gist of the minimalist lifestyle movement. I visualized the benefits such a lifestyle can bring: simple yet fulfilling and that is when I decided I should try this lifestyle. I knew it was not going to be a fairy tale ride. However, the notion of freeing myself from getting attached to things was far more rewarding.
Time to De-clutter
The first exercise to start practicing minimalism is to de-clutter what you already own. Doing this was both tough and challenging, I had to let go of things to which I was emotionally attached. For example, I had a PSP gaming console gifted by my brother on my 22nd birthday. It was not easy to just let go of all the emotional attachment that gift had. But I knew, deep down in my heart that I never used it to its potential and that I had to let it go.
So, by the end of November 2nd week, I had sold most of my gadgets (PS3, PSP, External hardrive, G-shock watch, electric guitar, heart-rate monitor, and digital camera), given away (ipod, movie dvd’s and 2nd laptop) and thrown (old clothes and groceries). When I started doing this (listing items to sell), some colleagues in the office started asking “Are you leaving work”! Is it not ironic, how we relate to people with their things? I continued to politely answer “No, I am not leaving”. I now own only five main gadgets (laptop, led tv, android phone, home recording studio and a DAB radio).
Benefits of a minimalist lifestyle
The feeling of letting go, is indeed very liberating. It feels as if a huge burden is off my shoulders. When I am at my apartment, I do not feel the guilt of owning unused things anymore. I have come to realize that I can be happy with the least of what I have and use them to their fullest. Sure, I do realize that I might miss some of the things for example, playing on a game console, but I think I can still do it at a friend’s place.
Other benefits of a minimalist life are that you stop worrying about things you do not have, and start embracing what you have. Things wont own you, rather you choose the things you want to own in your life. Next time when I move, I don’t have to pack many things, I will know exactly what I own and planning to move will be much easier. Minimalism also helps clear your mind and motivates you to concentrate on the things you love doing the most. Minimalist lifestyle also begs you to be honest with yourself and tests your resolve against shopping urges.
The way forward
My next aim is to continue this lifestyle and see where it takes me. I would also like to apply the minimalist idea into maintaining my virtual world presence be it on my personal computer, at work and online networking profiles. For example, deleting files which I don’t really need to backup etc., Minimalism in such facets of life will allow me to be more effective at my professional work by helping me focus on that crucial 20% work which provides 80% of the results.
If you wish to know more about Minimalism, these references will provide you a good head-start. (With hyperlinks)
As always, I would like to end this post with a quote
“Live not to impress others with the things you own, rather impress yourself by being who you really are.”