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Minimalism

A guide to minimalist living

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Minimalism

When people talk about minimalism, it invokes thoughts of someone getting rid of all their worldly possessions and living in a small apartment with just a table and chair.

While this may be true of some minimalists, and I believe that getting rid of physical clutter is normally a good place to start, there is a lot more to minimalist living.

Once you choose to become a minimalist in one area of your life, you will find that simple living becomes a virtue and it’s not long until it spills over into other areas of your life.

In this article I will take you through how to be more minimalistic ; as well as provide you with some simple tips on how to achieve “the minimalist lifestyle.”

Why be minimal?

Minimalism will create more space in your house (that’s if you choose to keep your house after reading this article), garage, shed, garden, to do list, diary, head and your whole life.

It allows you to really focus on the things that matter on a deeper level; such as, spending more time with your family, getting out and doing hobbies that you enjoy and working in a job that you truly love.

It stops you from chasing your next pay cheque, feeding your ego and/or keeping up with the Joneses.

It’s the simple life!

Here is an awesome quote from the movie Fight Club starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton…

“WE BUY THINGS WE DON’T NEED, WITH MONEY WE DON’T HAVE, TO IMPRESS PEOPLE WE DON’T LIKE.”

…Sound familiar?

Creating more space in your life can bring a clear weightlessness to your mind and body and can therefore help you become more productive. It’s also a great way to save money!

Having less stuff/things/tasks to maintain and manage will also help to reduce stress, slowing life down to a more relaxing pace.

Minimalism in a nutshell: DOING MORE WITH LESS.

As I take you through each section you will begin to see the relevance of the sentence above and the benefits of becoming a minimalist in each area.

You can then quickly take action to create the minimalistic lifestyle of your choice.

These sections are in no particular order, so please read the ones that are most applicable to you but, as I said before, I prefer to start with material possessions and clutter.

Are you ready? Let us begin the journey to a minimalist life…

Material Possessions

I can never start a new project or article when my surrounding environment is cluttered and messy. A clear desk is a clear mind!

Cluttered desk

Now this may sound a little OCD but it works for me. Knowing that everything is in order enables me to get on with the tasks I need to complete in a more relaxed manner.

But it’s not just me; this seems to work in a range of disciplines – you must have heard of the “clear desk policy” at work or soldiers keeping their barracks clean. Not only are these good ideas for hygiene but they allow such advocates to clear their mind and be in control and on top of their day.

A good way to start is to declutter one small area such as your desk, handbag, or gym bag. Be ruthless! If there is something that you haven’t used in the last 3-6 months, get rid of it, its weighing you down mentally and physically.  Now you don’t have to throw all your unwanted stuff into the bin. It can be donated to family, charity shops, or you could sell it to make a little extra cash.

You will find that once you start you won’t want to stop and this will spill over into other areas within your home. Again, be ruthless, get rid!

A good tip if you’re moving is to get rid of as much as you can before you move and then package the rest in clearly marked boxes as to what’s in the box and what room it belongs to. When you move, place the boxes into the relevant rooms but do not unpack them. Over the next three months only take out what you need.

There is a very high probability that the remaining “stuff” left in the boxes after three months will never be used, so get rid of it, it’s only going to gather dust and fill up your new home. The irony is that you may have moved to gain more space for you and your family but once all your unwanted junk has gone, you may realise you needn’t have moved at all!

The same principles can be applied to your clothes, shoes, even cutlery. How many shoes can you wear at the same time and how many cups can you drink from?  Get rid!

Like I said above, once you start you won’t want to stop! Being minimal doesn’t stop at just getting rid of your unused trinkets. Once you start to feel lighter and freer you can then look inside – within the mind.

Minimalist Mind

Depending on who you ask, we have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day – that’s around 35 to 48 per minute.

Wow, that’s mind blowing, and not just in the figurative sense!

This constant and never ending mind stream is a drain on our vital resources mentally and physically, no wonder many people are tired, sick and drained, with no energy to pursue what they really want in life.

So, what’s the answer?

Stay in the now!

As mentioned in my previous article on destressing at work, use breathing techniques to bring you back into the present moment.

When you are in a present state of awareness your constant stream of thought stops; your mind is no longer thinking about the past or the future, only what you are doing in that moment.

A short pencil is better than a long memory!

Yes, write things down or make notes in your phone, don’t try to keep everything in your head, eventually it will crash.

Keep your head free for family time and being creative; don’t use it as a Filofax (showing my age now – for the younger readers, this was a posh diary for young, up-and-coming professionals in the 80’s).

Mental Diet!

For two weeks, as soon as you have a negative thought or judgement about a situation or person, stop it and replace it with a positive one.

If you find yourself lingering in the judging and negativity you have to start again.

This will free up mental space and create a happier mind that is more at peace and restful.

Minimalist Diet

If you can’t hunt it, fish it, pick it off a tree or pull it out of the ground don’t eat it.

The more complicated the ingredients on the packet, the more complicated it will be for your body and mind to process it.

Keeping meals simple!

Eating naturally will help you reduce you calorie intake as it’s very hard to over-eat wholesome foods.

When you’re truly hungry eat! When you’re thirsty drink! Inexpensive, simple, minimal!

Minimalist Training

With training, I am not talking about specific sports such as athletics or bodybuilding; I’m talking about the “normal,” everyday, individual who has other commitment but still wants to be fit and STRONG.

I emphasize STRONG because this is a key component in being active and staying mobile, so please do some form of strength training.

OK, so what can we do with a minimum of time and equipment?

High repetition Kettle bell swings three times a week This will take around 20 minutes per session. Strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Bodyweight training This could be done daily for 10 to 20 minutes or two to three longer intense sessions depending on your schedule. If you just did Pull-ups, Press-ups or Dips and Sprints consistently and eat only natural foods, you would be in better shape than 99% of the population. Try it. Strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Deadlift programme, once or twice a week. Some resources for this can be found in The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss and also check out Pavel Tsatsouline, Kettlebell, Simple and Sinister programme.

I have not gone into depth here because I don’t want it to turn into an article on training; I would rather keep it minimal at this point (pun intended!) and will go more in depth at a later date.

If you are a member of a gym, you can still keep it simple buy using barbells, dumbbells, chin and dip bars and sprint using the treadmill.

For those of you “normal” individuals out there who require a good reference source for staying strong, active and mobile; check out Tim Ferris podcast with Pavel Tsatsouline here as well as my work out video with Shaun, which you can find on The Black Country Buddhas YouTube Channel:

Minimal Finances

Financial advice differs depending on your lifestyle needs. Hopefully, this article and our money saving series will help you to become more frugal but still live the life that you love.

The best ways to save money and live a simple life is to eliminate and automate. Use direct debits and standing orders to easily manage (Automate) your finances and reduce them as much as you can to save money (Eliminate).

Your account won’t seem so cluttered, you won’t have to worry about making the correct payments on the correct date and you can keep a better track of your financial situation.

Minimalist Relationships

Minimalism Friendships

I’m treading on tricky ground here, but hear me out.

What would you rather have?

  1. Meaningful relationships with close family and friends, that really matter to you and fill your life with positive energy; or
  2. Mediocre relationships with close family and friends because you socialise with a lot of other people who drain your time, damage your mind with toxic beliefs and exhaust your energy with negativity?

I’m sure you have heard some of these quotes before but I make no apologies for including them here as they are so true and so relevant:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

“Stick with the people who pull the magic out of you and not the madness” – Unknown

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. Life is already filled with those who want to bring you down” – Oprah Winfrey

“I got a small circle, I’m not with different crews. We walk the same path, but got on different shoes” – Drake

A good method to use here is the 80/20 rule:

What 20% of people generate 80% of your happiness?

These are the people you need around you.

What 20% of people cause 80% of your stress, headaches, negativity or bad traits?

These are the people you need to limit your time with or cut out of your life altogether.

Now you don’t have to be nasty or cold hearted about it, just say you’re busy or you have other plans, you get the picture.

This will create more time for you and your family and you will not be constantly drained by energy vampires… Life is too short!

20% people generate 80% of your happiness

Minimal Belief Systems

Minimalising your belief systems fundamentally comes down to one thing – LOSE THE EGO!

Now your egoic mind is telling you, how dare he, I haven’t got an ego… there you go, that’s your ego.

We all have an egoic, judgemental, monkey mind that’s always chattering away and sometimes gets us into trouble by protecting itself and always wanting to be right.

This is an area that I have had to develop. I have been guilty over the years of not controlling my ego and, in many ways, it has held me back and cost me friendships. Although I know it’s there, it still rears its ugly head when my guard is down.

Apply this simple saying, which I stole from Ryan Holiday in his book Ego is the Enemy’, to any aspect or problem in your life –

THE EGO IS THE ENEMY.

Keeping a mental note of this will have a dramatic affect on your life for the better.

Final note

Hopefully, this article has given you a good overview of minimalism and what it involves – it doesn’t just apply to material objects. Minimalism can be applied to every aspect of your existence, creating a freer, more weightless lifestyle.

So come on, GO MINIMAL!

Resources:

The Four Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris

Simple and Sinister programme, by Pavel Tsatsouline

The Ego Is The Enemy, by Ryan Holiday

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