My most recent source of inspiration was heard on the School of Greatness podcast and is titled Living with Less: The power of being a minimalist with Joshua Fields Millburn. One of the focus points was that we must find a place of balance between never having enough and living happily with what we have.
The minimalist approach is commonly confused and associated with sacrifice. How would giving up the things people love make them happier? Even if this were true, sacrifice also means to keep sacred.“You say no to the good things to make room for the great things.” Click To Tweet
This is my definition of minimalism.
Adopting minimalist principles means something different to everyone. The underlying importance is to reduce the desire for material possessions and to start living by our true principles and values. To place more emphasis on the things that are great in life and care less about things that take you further from your true identity.
Minimalism to me
To me, minimalism is about having the discipline to delay short term satisfaction by visualizing who I want to become and what I want to achieve. Through this, I enable the opportunity to achieve my long term goals. We mustn’t forget that not consuming is not the same as taking things away.
The false sense of security our material possessions provide only takes us further away from the things that bring greater us happiness. Whether they be passion, interests, friends, family or even exploring anywhere outside with your dog, is it providing intrinsic value?
We forget about the small, brilliant moments of life we revisit in our minds time and time again when we focus on achieving something for the sake of checking it off the list.
“Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.” – Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Upon reflecting on what I feel are the important things, processes and relationships in my life, I asked myself how have I taken a minimalist approach? Am I being resourceful with what I have? How often do my short-term actions align with my long-term goals? The results have been incredible.
The day-to-day mindset
In a society that constantly measures success by material things and money, people are constantly defined by their possessions. Advertisements telling you what you should have and an altered perception that consumption is happiness. If you don’t have something, you’re somehow lesser or “cheap.”
My belief is that our relationship with money should be more focused on having financial freedom instead of financial “gain” to the things and experiences that bring joy in our lives.
But what about even in our daily tasks? This is something I struggle with constantly. I try to trick my brain into adding more into my day which gives me a false sense of productivity. The minimalist approach explains that I should be focusing more of my time on what will produce the greatest result.
How are our interactions and choices providing value or helping to achieve our life goals? Does scrolling Facebook in the search for instant gratification ever get me anywhere? What about spending 100 bucks at the bar instead of taking a course you know will put you closer to your “dream career?”
Are the things I’m reading purposefully building towards something or are they just a form of procrastination giving me an easy out to claim, “Someday”?
These internal conflicts come up time and time again but we are too distracted by the many things in our lives to find what is most essential.
The same goes for nutrition. What about a minimalist nutritional approach? What simple foods would make my life that much better? Do I really need these supplements? Is what I am eating going to give me the power to become who I want to be?
A lot of what we buy from the grocery store does not represent the people we wish to become.
Food is addictive. No question about that. But when is what we buy ever enough? Why do we always need a fancy recipe?
These processed, “delicious” foods are made to provide us a false sense of happiness to keep us coming back for more. They cannot provide you with that rockin’ bod you are after. Processed foods will not help you become happier. And the added extra meals you eat out will only take you so far.
The truth is what is non-essential in health will not put us any closer to being more fulfilled in life.
Like nutrition, we think in fitness that we must exercise more and more to produce the incredible results we desire. For some people, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Take a step back for a moment. Let’s say you work out for 45 minutes 5 days of the week, which is a generous example. We’ll cut out sleep hours (8 hours, which is also a generous estimate) to get us to 112 active hours in a 7-day period.
That means you are spending roughly 3% of your total time awake working out. This is such a small portion of our time that it really doesn’t matter what it is we do. What does matter is that we are spending that time enjoying what we are doing. Besides, how are you spending the other 97% of your waking hours?
A lot of people think they need some fancy cross fit workout, the next best HIIT workout, or some strict workout plan that tells you exactly what you need to do. I say, do what reflects who you are, what you enjoy to do and not worry about which choice it is.
Find your why from within and let it guide you to living a better life.
By eliminating less meaningful distractions, we become more genuine and intentional across all areas of life which make our choices simpler. Instead of the fear based approach which focuses on the tragedy of our lives without something, what might we gain without it?
Out of this podcast came one of the best answers I have heard to the three truths question, a staple in Lewis Howe’s interviews. It is also one I feel resonates well with the SKIED mentality and perspectives of Choose your Wellness.
When asked toward the end of the interview, Joshua responded:
- Let it go, it’s just stuff.
- You can’t change the people around you but you can change the people around you.
- Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.
This podcast provided me a chance to reflect deeply on the many things, people, and actions that aren’t providing value to make room for things that do.
Should you choose to listen to the podcast, I hope you find similar value and challenge yourself to reflect on what a minimalist lifestyle means to you.
SKIED and out.