Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I've been doing some internet surfing and reading about minimalism.  It's a lifestyle, or set of practices, that espouses finding freedom in not being chained to stuff, or a job you despise, or even bad habits.  There are actually a lot of definitions, and it's difficult to even pin down what it all means because many of the practitioners just say, "Hey, this is what works for me, do what works for you." It's a very non-evangelistic movement, if it's a movement at all.

I went to a workshop on simplicity once and remember that the speaker talked about some of the same principles.  There was a lot that I liked about it, but I don't recall it giving any good "action items."  Perhaps I just wasn't ready to hear it.  I've been a pack rat all my life.  I keep a lot of stuff, and spend a lot of money on stuff.  I could think about it psychologically and decide that it's because of moving around so much. Perhaps I have a need to hold on to the familiar.  But ultimately the reasons don't matter. (Unless I develop a mental illness and start hoarding cats. Then it matters. But I'm not there yet.)  I hang on to too much stuff and there's clutter and dust that makes me sneeze.

I started with Zen Habits which is about more than minimalism, although minimalism is part of the message.  It also has writings about appreciating the moment, work tips, and more.

I then discovered the guys at The Minimalists. I love their real life, no BS writing style, and although I won't go to the minimalist lengths they go to, they have very practical, can do tips.  They talk about how to go about it.

From there, they linked to mnmlist, which is, as is evident, a minimalist blog.  The funny thing there is that it's run by the same guy who runs Zen Habits!

So what have I done so far?  Honestly, not much, except for an attitude adjustment.  From Zen Habits I got the concept of being happy for people.  It's a way to combat annoyance and stress.  For example, I was getting annoyed by a woman on the bus with her earbuds in singing to her music.  Loud.  Like really loud.  Then I thought that I'll be happy for her.  I was happy she was having fun.  I was also happy she had a good voice.  Also, I'm working on the attitude toward my stuff, or getting new stuff.  I ask myself if I really need it.  I also ask if that thing will make me happy.  I need to get new running shoes.  Eventually.  It will make me happy to have new, comfy, cushy, not worn out shoes.  But what I don't need is to race out and get them right away.  I will get them eventually. It may seem like a small shift, but I've always been the instant gratification type, and this new mode is different.

We totally cleaned out the Littlest Barbarian's room, and he was a champion at it. Don't want that.  Don't like that.  That's for babies.  I play with that all the time, keep it. Don't want that.  I learned a ton from him.  He's not all wrapped up in the false cosmic weight of his stuff. (We jettisoned 5 or 6 giant trash bags of garbage and 4 or 5 bags of donations to Value Village.)

Next stop:  the office.  What is in there that makes me happy?  Literally happy, like makes me laugh, or helps me to do something to make me happy?  Probably not much.

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