Becoming a Minimalist

In the past few months I have gradually reduced my possessions to 50 items. Travel was the main reason behind this but during the process I figured out a lot of attachments I had developed with my possessions.

What is minimalist living?

It is very simply, living with the essentials and getting rid of everything else. Think about how you feel when your apartment is messy and unorganized as opposed to being tidy. You tend to feel overwhelmed, find it hard to concentrate and misplace items for frequently.

When you have less items to think or worry about you reduce stress in your life.

In yoga philosophy it’s called Aparigraha. In Buddism it’s called non-attachment. All of these philosophies are preaching the same thing. Possessions are the route to unhappiness.

 “The things you used to own, now they own you.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.

Minimalism gives you more time

“Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperature or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.” – Samuel Smiles

True wealth is not how much money we have in our bank account. It is how much time we have to do the things we want to do. Whether it’s spending the weekend surfing with friends, having dinner with loved ones or spending 3 months backpacking around Asia.

My journey into minimalism

 “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes. working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we dont need.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.

After leaving Ireland in May I have gradually got rid of more and more items that I didn’t need. When you’re lugging around a backpack in 40-degree heat in India, you have no problem throwing stuff away!

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Before I left my friends gave me an aero press coffee maker to bring with me. At the time I was delighted. It was a great gift but overtime it made me realize my attachment to coffee.

If I didn’t have coffee in the morning I was moody. If I got a bad cup of coffee in a café I was frustrated. And on top of that I was always worrying that the aero press might break when I was traveling. Eventually I posted it home. After a week or so my energy increased as my reliance on caffeine diminished.

I had one less thing to worry about and my bag was lighter! If you look at items in your life, a lot of the time they are causing you more headaches than benefits.

 The benefits of minimalism?

  • More time – you will instantly have more time as you will have less things to look after and worry about.
  •  More money – you will be only spending money on the essentials. I’m not saying you have to live like a monk. You can still own luxurious items as long as they’re serving a purpose.
  •  More freedom – with less items you won’t feel as trapped by them. You will have less fear to leave or to travel because you won’t be leaving all your “valuables” behind.
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How to get started with minimalism.

Make a list of the essentials you need to live a comfortable life – only focus on the basics first – Clothing, accommodation, transport and food.

  • Clothing – this is a great place to start – most of us wear only a fraction of the clothes that we own. Make a list of the clothes you wear most frequently – donate the rest.
  • Accommodation – If you rent, is your house/apartment sufficient. Do you have more rooms than you actually need? Can you move somewhere smaller or less expensive?
  • Transport – if you drive a car is it sufficient or costing you more than it’s worth? Is there a better alternative? A more economical option. Are you within cycling distance of work?
  • Food – what type of food and drinks are you buying? Do you dump the same items week in week out? What food items have been in the cupboards/freezer for months? Donate or dump it!

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” 
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.

Start small

If you are still not ready to get rid of your possessions, concentrate on not acquiring anything new. In the book, “Everything that remains” Milburn weighs up each and every item that he wishes to purchase. He asks himself the same question before he considers a purchase. “”Is a cup of coffee worth $3 of my work time? If yes then I’ll buy it.” He applies the same tactic to more expensive items but puts off buying it for a few weeks to avoid impulse buys.

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Make a list of the 10 items you own which cost the most. Make another list of the 10 things you own that make you happy. Compare.

Milburn also recommend a packing party. This is where you pack all your possessions in boxes. For 21 days only remove items you need for that day. Nothing more. Repeat each day. For a more detailed description check out the link.

Summary

As you can probably tell from all the quotes, Fight club was the inspiration behind this post.

Minimalism is not depriving yourself of happiness and all materialism. It is being honest with what you need and what you don’t need. Have a packing party, get rid of the things you don’t need and enjoy extra cash, less stress and more happiness.

So what items can you not live without and what are the items just taking up space in your life?

Please let me know in the comments below.

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