up in your life,
Somehow I’ve known from the beginning of my minimalist journey, that this path will lead me to new beginnings, new understandings, new skills that I needed in order to fulfill my soul’s desire and life’s purpose. It’s strange how even-though I haven’t totally gotten to the point of being a remarkable minimalist yet, I already unlocked new paths and understandings in life. I’ve come to a critical point now where I am fully aware of my time being, of my personal life-span. The meaning of my existence in this world and what on earth I will do with this life I was given: what do I have to accomplish, what is the purpose I have in the place and time that I am at here and now. Fining that balance of being in harmony with your surroundings and with yourself is a real challenge. But it will definitely work by the practice of elimination of your negative attitude, downsizing the negativity in your life, embracing your lessons and forgiving your short-comings and finding gratitude in your path and world.
I believe the first real change I wanted to practice this year was this: get rid of the hate, start loving. Hate is truly a poison eating you alive. It even got me to a point of self-pity and solitude: I couldn’t find a way of living in this strange world that wasn’t operating the way I needed, I loathed my awareness, I wanted to be a sheep like anyone else. It took me some time to see that my life is just wonderful: I am wonderful. And nature, art and love are divine: it can be touching and overwhelmingly beautiful if you allow it to be. There isn’t a day where I ask myself what have I done to deserve my beautiful mind, my loving partner in life by my side, my blessings and even if I dare: a beautiful naked body (yes it isn’t the most beautiful one out there, but I must love how this piece of art works magically -especially the way it heals itself is just miraculously stunning-).
Somewhere by the end of last year I totally lost my self-respect, I did what others expected me to do and I didn’t listen to my personal well-being: I was overly stressed and I got very ill. No doctor could really help me or understand the illness I was going through, and I was so desperate to get out of that unpleasant state that it really took me a good couple of days of pondering and meditation to regain my strength and knowledge: only I could help myself and understand myself. And I needed to be listened to, firstly by me and secondly by those who affect me. But to truly listen to yourself, you need to calm your ego, calm your fears, make room for listening. Through the inexplicable tears I found the answer to my pain. Since then I started to grasp to meaning of actual health. I am nowhere near as healthy as I would like to be or as I ought to be: I need to start exercising daily, I want to eat better for my health (whole foods, just plant-based isn’t healthy enough*) and treat my life and body with the respect that I deserve towards myself from myself.
* Must-read literature: HOW NOT TO DIE by Michael Greger
photograph in this article is by verdenius on instagram
This is what I learned in my first year of minimalism. After attempting my first year of minimalism, I am more encouraged to perform my second year of minimalism with greater success. Things didn’t always go my way. I had a certain expectation of things, of myself, of how it was supposed to happen. But none of this resulted the way I wanted. Things got even messier. I confronted a lot of personal struggles and it overwhelmed me quite a bit, it almost felt like I was inadequate to even become a minimalist. This image I had in my mind of the minimalist in me was a dream-like goal that seemed reachable within years and years from here. In the meantime I really was aiming to achieve those goals in less than a year. I understand now how it went wrong: I was carried away by expectations and disappointment, resulting in a lack of motivation. But I learned an awful lot about myself. I learned how I got here and why this is the way I responded to the mess: I’ve always been trapped in this state of mind. Understanding this will allow me to move forward and work on my personal journey. Yes, it is very much a personal journey. Many minimalists out there will make you believe that minimalism is always this ray of happiness shining through everything you do, but I’ve discovered: to get there, emotions. will. shake. you. up.
picture source unknown
Here is what I actually learned:
Give everything away (for free or by donation) that has no meaning to you (those things are worthless, so don’t waste your time and effort trying to sell these for a couple of bucks) it will drag you down because the stuff that you want to sell (the stuff that has a certain meaning for you and you are trying to say goodbye to those things) will end up underneath a pile of stuff that is disabling your progress.
Only sell your maybe/confusing stuff. Because when someone reaches out to you to buy this thing, you will really have to face that moment of personal detachment and real self-reflection: Do I need this, Am I ready to part with this, How do I say goodbye. The answer is most likely: say goodbye, hug it, touch the object, have your memories relived. Only sell if it feels right. If this step is too much to take yet: take a picture of that object and put the ‘sentimental’ object away. Maybe collecting pictures is better than collecting things that take up more space?
Stop over-attaching to the past and start living in the here and now. Therefore you will only need what is needed today and tomorrow. Keep what is being used and useful (also what you love dearly). But don’t fall into the trap of ‘maybe I should keep this for… just in case’. Because just in case is often an excuse for not getting rid of some things. Think about ‘how much these things are taking up space and effort to keep them in your home’ in comparison to ‘how easily can I get hold of a new/borrowed/second-hand one if it is really needed’. And the answer to that is: once you only keep what you are using and you get rid of what you aren’t using, you start appreciating the moment in time. Say your hobby has always been painting, but you haven’t been practising this hobby of yours for a long time now: it’s only going to make you feel bad if you keep these objects in your presence, because you’ll be constantly reminded for not doing what you thought you must be keeping up with. Truth is: things change, your hobbies change and awesome fact: they might come back to you later in life. So embrace this flow/energy you are in, let go of what is holding you back from progress and do what feels good now. Let yourself have new interests and let go of old interests (keep in mind: the memories will live on forever), stop believing that those things are the identity of your existence, they are merely a tool of self-expression in the time being. The memories will count and that is what you should collect: collect memories, not stuff. You can do this, on your own tempo and enjoy your journey in the meanwhile.
Whether you drive a BMW or a Maruti, the road remains the same. Whether you fly Economy or Business Class, your destination doesn’t change. Whether you wear Titan or Rolex, time remains the same. Whether you use a Samsung or Apple, the people who call you are the same. It’s not wrong to dream about a luxurious life, though notice that need doesn’t become greed: because needs can always be met, but greed can never be fulfilled.
slightly adapted quote from Rajnikanth
Although it’s been beautiful to witness it snowing before officially winter season, we unfortunately encountered some damage due to the abundance of snow. Our house is very old and too big for us, but we can’t move out yet unless we can sell it. Thus for now we manage our situation with what we have. Due to the sudden weather change
(climate change, anyone?) we experienced a few heavy leakages in our house. To my surprise I remained quite calm and praised myself even lucky because no valuable stuff was destroyed to the water. I knew this situation was shitty but we dealt with it as we could: mopping the ice cold water and putting buckets where was needed, so by daylight we could take a look on our roof to remove the obstructing snow. It took us 3 days to be leak-free and now we are okay: we still have a roof, we still have walls and for now our heating-system is still working, so we embrace this self-awareness and try to enjoy these moments of bliss. Because we are lucky enough to have a home, although not ideal, it’s still a home.
Q: Have you encountered a situation where minimalism was not the best response?
Photograph used for this article
is by Willem Douven
One of the reasons that minimalism appeals to me is the profound meaning of living life itself. I believe strongly in the following quote by Joshua Becker:
We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. We were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the journey of life – not the things of life.
To my understanding this represents the true meaning of a life-time and what the result is about. I believe people choose minimalism nowadays because they want to feel freed and they want to experience their happiness now, by stop wasting time and effort on what isn’t important and learn to focus upon what truly matters here and now. Many minimalists have their awakening once they encounter the death of a close someone, realizing all the stuff that this person held on to and experiencing how much of a hassle all this is for the ones you leave behind, to deal with. Not only does it awaken your consciousness of the future and the life of those who will outlive you, you’re also left with the responsibility to make your life meaningful to yourself and others without the overkill of owning a unhealthy amount of stuff.
Something personal here: I am considering never conceiving my own children and I will write about this topic more in depth eventually hopefully later. But for now, this is a simple fact: I will not find purpose in my life in procreating another life. I find it ethically and morally right to limit myself to my own existence and share my life with those who are already here on earth to find meaning together in this world. I realize that my choice leaves me with the knowledge that everything I own won’t be a heritage to an offspring but it might be taken into use by those who can benefit from my stuff and those who have some sentimental value to my existence (my partner for example, some friends or even my parents if they live long enough). I am well aware that the meaning of your life is limited to what you make out of it, what you pursue, what you give to others and what you radiate (love, inspiration and so on). Nobody will remember you for your stuff, they will remember you despite of your stuff. There is a story going on in my family about an aunt that when she died, everyone was so baffled by how much junk she accumulated and they made fun of her at that moment while cleaning out the house, but even worse: it’s the only way people remember her today. It’s like she never made an impression worth remembering, I imagine she must have been an introvert to the extreme and not even a kind person because instead of sympathy and compassion, people felt the need to mock her illness of hoarding. It somehow always touched me to hear this story of someone I haven’t known personally in my life.
With minimalism I feel like you’re actually aware of mortality and become at peace with the thought even more. Not only because you’re less worried about ‘where your stuff will end after you die’, but also because you become aware of how to live your life during your lifetime, making the most of it, choosing to live happily and healthy instead of wasting your most valuable asset in life: your time.
Try to see the meaningful through the meaningless. Find good in the bad and hold on to what works, to what makes you happy to what keeps you going. Remember the positive in your lifetime and overcome the bad times. Your life is worthy and you should treat it that way, without becoming arrogant. Contribute in any way possible, anything to make you feel valuable without disabling others or let others wreck you. Don’t let people take advantage of your kindness and generosity. Find the balance between giving and not expecting to receive anything without being robbed. Here is a great poem -I shared a while back- that wraps up this topic for now.
If your stuff isn’t serving you,
it won’t be serving you any better packed away in a box somewhere.