“Buy this. Watch that. Lose weight. Gain weight. Wear this. Eat that. Make more.” The consistent message behind these suggestions is that you are not good enough, you do not own enough. These ideas are being delivered to us almost every waking minute. Some of it comes from marketing, some of it from our network, most of it from our own heads. We all need a complete guide to minimalism, because most of our days look like this:
Wake up and check our phone, laying next to our bed. Not enough texts, not enough likes. Check the email, so much to do. Pick out our clothes, so many choices. Is this still cool? Which color shirt?
Watch the news before work, which isn’t really news anymore, and learn about celebrities living in the spotlight. What an amazing life they have, we think.
Ignore the commercial in the background for six-minute-abs, telling us the secret to everything we’ve been searching for is in a set of DVD’s for only three simple payments.
Drive to work, bigger and better cars all around us.
Enjoy the same five songs repeated on the radio, no longer even trying to be clever, shouting “money, sex, booze”.
We still believe we aren’t paying attention to the radio commercials, but our minds still register the words. McDonalds has a new something for 99 cents, and now, here’s a man telling you that you didn’t buy nice enough jewelry for your partner. Luckily, they are having a sale.
Get to work, so close to that new reserved parking spot you always wanted. Eight types of donuts in the break room. Lunch wherever the boss wants to go. Amazon browsing in the afternoon.
On the drive home, world news. Mixed in between commercials, of course. War everywhere, everyone is racist, everything is dangerous. Pull into the driveway, say hi to the neighbors. What a nice lawn, I wonder what he buys. No time to cook, what are we in the mood for? So many choices.
Finally, a night at home. Yes Netflix, I am still watching.
I have to share this article, these 21 things. Now another, 11 things. This video is amazing. Look at what other people are doing. Crazy. No time to read tonight, it’s been a busy day. I can’t wait until new years, when I can finally start being happy, healthy, wealthy.
Better go to sleep, turn off the TV, bring the iPad into bed. Excited for tomorrow, a dozen goals to achieve. It’s the weekend soon. Drink specials. New episodes. Thoughts start racing, it’s 1AM.
I should buy this, watch that, lose weight. I should gain weight, wear this, eat that, BE more.
This is maximization. Consumerism. How absolutely exhausting.
THE DANGERS OF MAXIMIZATION
Maximization is a scientific process. It’s based on physical triggers that are deeply seeded in our brains. We are stimulated by bright colors and sounds, and are naturally competitive. We want to be safe, warm, and comfortable. It’s endless, profitable, and extremely unsatisfying for us all.
We are told, over and over, that the next big thing will make us happy and content. We are told by marketing messages and the people around us that we are not good enough. And when we hear these statements enough, we start to believe them. Our own voices begin to tell us that we need to be that, we need to do that. And when we do, there is something else around the corner. It’s the classic carrot on a stick.
All of those thoughts and things take up real space in our heads and our lives. Just like a computer, we only have so much memory and ability to multitask. Everything our senses absorb, consciously or unconsciously, uses our own personal bandwidth.
If we only have so much space, why would you let it be taken up by things that don’t truly matter?
The old zen proverb goes like this:
A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go. Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted, “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse replied, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!”
Does any of this resonate with you? Perhaps you’ve always had this feeling in the back of your mind, and you might understand that this way of living doesn’t truly provide contentment. How would you like to take back control?
There is an alternative, that can potentially provide you with a sense of direction and freedom in many different aspects of your life. Stop getting told what to do.
ENTER THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MINIMALISM
This isn’t about making space in your house. This is about making space in your head. Contrary to popular belief, minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of all your stuff. It’s a different way of approaching the way you live. It’s simplification in the name of efficiency, and making room for the things that really matter. This complete guide to minimalism is about being aware of the choices you make, and why you are making them.
You can become a minimalist much like how you can take up a new hobby. You can do a little research first, but you have to take action. Baby steps are just fine. Through constant review and check-ins, minimalism will spread into all the different areas of your life. The results will be extremely enjoyable.
BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM
The power of minimalism can be boiled down into the idea of choosing freedom. Freedom from attachment to physical objects, freedom from the messages being thrown at you all throughout the day. Freedom from your own self-doubt, and freedom from disorganization.
Minimalism provides you with the flexibility to do and be what you want. More thoughts, goals, and things result in more responsibility. The less on your plate provides you with powerful focus on the things you choose.
There is progress in minimalism. By making a choice on eliminating distractions, everything becomes a bit clearer. You have a much better sense on where you stand, what matters to you, how you can make improvements, and where you would like to be.
Obviously, you have more room. Less stuff in your home, car, computer, and bag means an open, organized, and streamlined day. Empty space is calming, and your mind will appreciate it.
Another disease of our over-stimulated world is stress. With less on the plate, enjoy your newly found breathing room. With a smaller amount of stuff to take care of, enjoy more efficient management of your life.
REQUIREMENTS OF MINIMALISM
Step one comes from awareness. You need to start noticing how the messages around you have an influence on your decisions. Start asking questions about what you really need, and what is really important to you.
Awareness is a powerful tool, and should be used at all times. If someone is speaking, listen. When you are cooking, cook. When you are working, work. By focusing in this way, those messages lose power.
Next is simplification. This is the most common step people associate with minimalism. Just get rid of stuff. Everything you have needs a purpose. This doesn’t mean you can’t have art, or nice things. The purpose of art is to bring you joy. But if there are things still in your life that don’t bring you that sense of satisfaction, toss it. Scrap the junk drawer. Sort the closet.
Simplification is not only about things.
Simplify your goals. Simplify your business and career, your habits, and your finances. With simplification comes clarity, and with clarity comes focus and productivity.
Now, be intentional as you move forward. When you shop, make smart decisions. When you bring something new into your house, maybe you should get rid of something old. Buy quality things that will last for a lifetime, as opposed to replaceable junk.
Finally, consistently review your new lifestyle. What is in the way? What can you get rid of? Where have you fallen off course, and how has it negatively affected you? Review is the key to progress.
As we already revealed in this guide to minimalism, minimalism isn’t just about reducing physical clutter. Here are just a few areas of your own world that can dramatically benefit from minimalism.
Use the power of three, and don’t set any more than that. Start small, and do that one thing each and every day until it is permanently ingrained as a habit. Mark a big X on your calendar daily. Once goals become habits, true change is created.
Clean out your car, your house, your fridge. Keep what matters and what brings you satisfaction, donate what does not. You don’t have to sleep on a straw mat in the corner of a bare room. But don’t just organize junk elsewhere, get rid of it.
Run, lift heavy things, and stretch. Simplify your fitness to make sure you stay on track and consistently progress. If your only goal each day is to run a mile faster than yesterday, there isn’t much to get confused about. You are going to improve much faster than the new athlete overwhelmed with a 60 page 12 week training program.
Learn to cook, and make simple meals with simple macronutrients. Vegetables, protein, fruit. Have as much as you want. Plan your meals in advance, and eat out only for special occasions.
Your computer is probably filled with old files from years back. Create folders and get organized. Delete what you no longer need, watch, or play. Get to an empty desktop and email inbox. Your computer is a machine, not a distraction.
Zuckerberg and Jobs wore the same thing every single day. While you don’t have to be that extreme, stop focusing on a new look every day and just wear something productive and comfortable. Lay it out the night before, and forget about it.
Your learning should never stop. Read a bit of one book, every single day. Take notes, and file them away. Donate the book, and get a new one. Watch one new TED talk, take one new online course.
The purge. You have the option of getting started slowly with minimalism, like getting rid of just one thing at a time. Instead, I recommend a weekend battle, where you cover all of the above segments at once. This way, you will experience this huge sense of relief and accomplishment that will provide you with motivation to stick with it.
This complete guide to minimalism is about freedom through choice. There is no need to be a monk in the mountains. If you are aware and intentional, you can make intelligent purchases that aren’t based on impulse. Another recommendation is to use those impulses to splurge on experiences instead. Book that ticket, go to that concert, have an adventure. Fill your head with those.
Finally, and where the true power of minimalism comes from, is in your routine. Make sure you stay organized. Use a daily planner and journal. Wake up without the phone, and read. Write and meditate. Take a walk. Have a dedicated time for entertainment in the evening. Put things back where you found them. Focus on your work when it is time to work. Learn to enjoy silence.
After all this, you might finally realize you are good enough and you do have enough. You can listen to the voice in your head again, one that is finally truly your own. Take back control. Good luck.
Leave a comment: Did this complete guide to minimalism strike a chord? How do you want to break free from maximization?