It is soon close to a year since I adopted a minimalist lifestyle. While starting off with this lifestyle, I did not set out with extreme goals like the pro-minimalist out there who live life with as less as 50 to 100 things in their possession.
That is quite impractical in my opinion, I suppose it works well for them, but I did not want to live such an extreme lifestyle. Nevertheless, I met some personal goals and have tried to maintain them in the 1st year. I would like to share some good and some challenging experiences with minimalism in this update post.
Minimalism to me is a lifestyle which has made me realize that things don’t make me happy anymore; I can make myself happy with what I already have. I have drastically reduced on my spending by detaching myself from greed of wanting more things.
This lifestyle has given me more time to improve on my hobbies, talk more often with friends, go workout or just do nothing for the evening! Doing nothing also is a great pleasure in this fast paced life where we are constantly bombarded with information and seduced with advertisements at every corner.
I will start with four good experiences of following a minimalist regime.
Not easily impressed by things people own
One thing interesting about this lifestyle is that sooner or later you realize that it helps you recognize people who value life more than their things.
It helps you connect with people in a deeper sense than just on the basis of the kind of house, car or gadgets they own. I have nothing against people who want to own things, what I mean to say is, I value their gestures or actions more than their things and this sense has only grown stronger along the months.
I think this is one of the best advantages of this lifestyle. You want to be around people who see life as gift in itself.
Focused on hobbies
As you relieve yourself from unwanted things and their thoughts, you start to explore your own talents. Instead of sitting with a joystick and playing PS3 it was time for me to improve on what I had in me; my voice.
I took upon singing after a long break, but this time focused on practicing a lot and recording karaoke covers of my favorite songs. Doing this regularly during weekends has been a great boast to my mood and moral. Learning new recording techniques has been a fantastic experience as well.
I don’t think I would have taken up recording seriously if I still had all the distractions around me. So I credit this positive change to the minimalist lifestyle.
Always at peace at home
As I described in the last post, having too many things around me made me feel very guilty for buying them and not using them to the fullest. After the change, I have observed that my mood at home is always nice and calm.
I have started using all the things I own very frequently, which meant that they were serving their purpose in my life and not the other way around.
In these eleven months, I have ensured to adopt the principle of minimalism in my diet as well. Eating simple good food was my aim. The intake of sugary treats and processed foods have decreased drastically. Instead of these junk food, simple whole foods like fruits, oats, brown rice, brown bread and fresh vegetables have replaced them. I also started making fresh juices by mixing 5 different vegetables (carrot, capsicum, tomatoes, spinach, celery) for breakfast, though it tastes bad I have come to realize it gives good nutrition. This combined with a good workout regime has helped me reach the best physical shape of my life.
A famous quote goes; “You are what you eat.” I realize what it is to eat well and good food now. Again, this simplistic diet was the result of the minimalist lifestyle. I still do let myself have some pieces of desert during social occasions, but the quantity is way less compared what I used to eat before.
There are always two faces to a coin.
It was not all easy sailing. I want to acknowledge the challenges I faced during this year as well. I am sure everyone following such lifestyle has gone through these challenges.
Selling, giving away or throwing away stuff
Both the feeling of not being able to have something you yearned some years ago and the associated backlash of letting things go were the main challenges I faced. I had emotional attachment to many of the things I had to give away. Be it gifts from my family or that thing I gifted myself after my first salary.
Those are very strong emotions to control. But amazingly the feeling of losing these things only lasts so long. After the initial de-cluttering, I did not miss those things anymore.
The mind is a strange thing; it tells you “See, you really did not need it” and starts to console you right away!
Constantly telling yourself to control your spending can be an irritating feeling especially when you know that it is your own conscience trying to convince you all the time.
“You do not need this now!”
I experienced this whenever I was in a mall. Sarcastically, it reminded me of a parent-child relationship. Conscience, being the parent and constantly minding the child who wants that shiny little thing!
This constant advice can get to your nerves, but after a good night’s sleep or asking a friend’s opinion, I always realized that the conscience was right; I did not need something which I already had.
One such situation was my wish to buy a new cycle when I already had a decent working cycle. I avoided unnecessary hassle and spending after a good friendly talk with my apartment mate and asking him for his opinion.
Smartphone off, basic phone on
One area which I thought minimalism could help me was to limit my online presence. Recently, I have boycotted the use of a smartphone.
The utility of a phone is to be able to call and receive messages. Any additional feature is just a bonus. All the other services are always easily accessible through a laptop.
The constant messages, emails, social networking not only wasted my time but also disrupted my focus.
I am currently on a one month experiment to see if I can continue living without a smartphone. I plan to write about this experiment in a separate post, soon.
I realize that this is a lifestyle, which will be looked as a weird choice by many. It is definetly not an easy journey, but unless you try it for yourself, you really won’t know how good it feels. I would highly recommend this lifestyle to those people who are looking for simplifying their personal lives or ones who are tired of taking care of their things. I want to finish this post with a quote the meaning of which I have experienced first hand.
“The greed of wanting something can be strong, but so is the strength of your conscience to resist that greed.”