Archive for the ‘Minimalism’ Category
One of the best parts about Autumn is the crisp mornings when the sun begins to peak over top a mountain and flood the valley below with a huge rush of sunshine and warmth. The long shadows cast by trees, homes, and barns cut up the monotony of the mornings. All of this gives us an outstanding opportunity to don our favorite lightweight jackets and brew a mug of whatever coffee or tea we happen to reach for first this morning. Mornings such as this are great for simple reflection and relaxation, providing a great environment for introspection and calmness which is necessary for good mental health. The sad fact is, many people are too caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day life that this practice has all but fallen by the wayside.
Today my thoughts are simple, where I work the following signs are posted outside of every patient room:
I simply ask that we all do the same, not necessarily for a patient in a hospital but for ourselves, and on a regular basis for our own sanity.
Everyone needs a certain amount of money. Beyond that, we pursue money because we know how to obtain it. We don’t necessarily know how to obtain happiness.
Spending cash on memories instead of material stuff sometimes seems counter-intuitive to many people. Often times people want something to show for their hard-earned money, a piece of property over peace of mind. It’s these people that need the peace of mind more than anything else.
I know that I worry about finances constantly. Whether it is paying off my steadily shrinking credit card balance or checking my debit card balance, numbers and figures constantly surround me. Hell even my current paycheck is brought to me by people calling to get help with their credit card debt and spending money with merchants without reading the fine print or getting screwed over by corporate America. There is always something.
But wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could live finance free? Have our lives so budgeted and organized that we know our income and we know our expenses. We don’t have to worry about interest charges, overages, and late penalties and just focus on living our lives, enjoying our jobs, making memories, and being adventurous. I wonder what would happen if we spent as much time living our lives as we spend trying to pay for its luxuries. If we focus on just what makes us happy and keeps us alive and cut out the unnecessary, I wonder how much it would truly cost to live…
To me, this means being
- Self-Sufficient as possible (gardening)
- Minimal (cut out the excess clutter)
- Streamlined (multi purpose items are fantastic)
- Cutting out unnecessary entertainment (who really cares what Cartman is doing tonight on South Park?)
- Happy with what we do have and what we are doing
But to each their own. These are what work for me. Maybe they will work for you too.
I’ll leave you with a classic….
“If frugality were established in the state, and if our expenses were laid out to meet needs rather than superfluities of life, there might be fewer wants, and even fewer pleasures, but infinitely more happiness.”
I got to thinking when I saw a forum member post about addictions on a forum that I frequent. I wonder how many of us really lay out a budget and try to stick to it? Is it possible? I think that if we do a well planned, well researched budget using real world prices, and adjust for inflation, then it is very possible to create a budget and stick to it. But when it comes down to it, budgeting alone doesn’t always get the job done, if we buy low quality in the name of saving money, it usually winds up costing us much more on down the line. But where do we draw the line? Spending a paycheck on one nice item that will last us years does not help us meet our budget needs. In reality, the best course of action is to put superfluous want items on a short term list, and mull it over for a month or two, to make sure it really is in your best interest to buy the non-budgeted item.
When I created my budget I broke it down into 2 broad categories, Fixed and Variable. They are just like they sound. Expenses and Deposits that are the same month-to month are fixed and the ones that change monthly are variable. I also like to create a catch-all area in my savings for excess deposits from ebay or forum sales to cover any unknown expenses that may occur each month. In the next few weeks be on the lookout for the budget breakdown that I found works for me.
Alright, so how many of us are planning an adventure? I always hear people talking about the next big exciting step in their life. But shouldn’t life itself be the adventure that were are actively pursuing?
I hear people like natewalksamerica and arestlesstransplant who are actively engaged in pursuing the simple adventures that life has to offer. They are actually getting out there and experiencing the world as it is meant to be experienced, with their own two eyes on the open road. While this may not be a viable option for most of us, tied down by family or our careers, there is still ample option for everyday adventures. We just might have to try a little harder to find them. This requires a little bit of introspection though. What is it that excites us? What would be really fun to do, but we never really have done it, because we are either too busy, too tired, or too broke? Maybe we really can afford these adventures if we take a close look at those possessions that we own, but don’t really serve a purpose, and are therefore a waste. If we sell these and take some paid time off from work to make some memories that will last a lifetime…will it be worth it?
“Life is only as good as the memories we make”
-The Ataris “So Long Astoria”
I think that a lot of times we just get so wrapped up in the drudgery of every day life that we forget that a life without adventure is not a life lived well at all. While we have the chance we need to take advantage of every opportunity to be kind to others, to go on the little adventures, to go on the big adventures, and to miss as few of the great opportunities that life has to throw at us as we possibly can.
The greatest wealth is to live content with little.
This post is a little difficult to write. It is about a lot of things though. Perseverance, unintentional minimalism, the economy, and happiness. Some of the strongest people I have met are those who are just scraping by on the bare minimum. They are happy to do whatever they can to get a dollar or two to feed and shelter themselves or their family. With the international economy struggling the way it has lately, there is an inevitable rise in the percentage of people living below the poverty line trying to figure out how to make ends meet. Sure, everybody has wants, but the reality is, when you cannot even afford the basics, you get over the superficial wants and realize what you really need. The poor economy has bred a group of unintentional minimalists. People forced to get by with just the basics because they are unable to afford anything more. Yet their strength lies in the fact that they persevere to do more (most do, anyway) and earn an honest living for themselves or for their kids, so that they do not have to struggle so much in their adulthood.
However, we live in a prepackaged society of excess and gluttony. It is very difficult to escape that for even the average lower-middle class consumer. If we realize that we need to focus on the essentials for our own sanity, that leaves us free to contemplate what to do to make life better for others. Minimalize the excess in our lives by sharing that excess with those that need it more than we do. Donate excess canned goods to a local food pantry, donate old clothes to a shelter, donate time to a project that benefits people other than yourself. I am a strong believer in karma, whatever you may believe, there is generally an understanding that there are consequences for your actions, do unto others, what have you. Have a newspaper? Share it, recycle it, don’t waste your resources. I’m not asking you to help others just for their benefit, do it for yours too. It gives you an unparalleled feeling of happiness. Who knows, it may even come back around in the long run.
I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Yesterday marks the changing of the seasons with the Autumn Equinox occurring yesterday morning. This means several things for us. From, shorter, cooler days, maybe a brief Indian Summer for some, allergies, sweaters, and SAD for others.
One thing is for sure though, we change with the weather. Since we are spending more time inside, it is a great time of the year to evaluate haves and have-nots. More specifically, the excess that we have, and the considerably less that people have just around the corner. With the weather getting cooler, this is a great time of year to dig through your closets and pull out sweaters and jackets that you never wear and donate them. This can be accomplished by going to your local GoodWill, or checking online resources such as One Warm Coat. The benefits to giving this time of the year are three-fold. First you get to clean out the clutter that ties you down and stresses you out. Secondly, you get to help those who are having a rough time to stay warm this time of the year. Finally, there is a very satisfying feeling to helping those in need just because you are able to.
If the seasons are getting you down, I also strongly encourage you to get out and volunteer to help at a church, soup kitchen, or some other benefit to help those around you. Maximize your time to help others this time of year and you will assuredly be greeted with smiles and thanks in return.
It seems like today the new big fad is minimalism, we see it in art and architecture, we also so people living the so-called “minimalist lifestyle”. However, doesn’t this contradict the very “Semper Paratus” way of life that so many preparedness experts and “survivalists” hold dear? I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea lately. Can one be a prepared minimalist? Doesn’t being a minimalist mean that I am more prepared?
I think that if you go about it the right way we can be a prepared minimalist. Because ideally, if there is a SHTF scenario, people want to pack up and get out of dodge as fast as they possibly can. Now people on survivalist boards like show off who has got the biggest, baddest BOB, BOV, BOL around. I think that some people need all that stuff in order to feel safe. But if you can make do with less, why weigh yourself down with things that you don’t need, and won’t use.
The other day, I took a look around, and I realized that I have way too much CRAP. Things that I do not need and do not use take up space, and they’re a financial burden because I have a percentage of my net worth tied up in that crap that sits in piles and wastes space. My challenge to myself was to take as much of those heaps that I possibly could and sell them and put the money to my credit card debt, leaving me free to take my hard-earned paychecks to live on and dedicate some money to establishing a nest-egg for myself.
This meant selling knives, gear, patches, watches, redundant supplies, to pare down my belongings to just the essentials. I mean, hell, I had clothes in my closet that haven’t fit me in years….YEARS. So I piled up all of that to drop off at the local Good Will. The result is a cleaner living space, and an incurable itch to keep going, to streamline more. I would LOVE being able to pack up everything to the car in 10 minutes and be on the road. I find myself reading the minimalist blogs, the unclutter website, some notable minimalist books. Instead of scoffing at their absurdity, I actually agree with a lot of what they are saying. Now there are some people that take it to extremes, a blog entry entitled “100 days without Goals” definitely comes to mind.
But I think it can be very beneficial to streamline to just the essentials, and really do some introspection to feel out what it is that we really need in order to survive, and not just postulate, but put those ideas into practice and constantly learn and modify our way of thinking in order to realize what works best for us.
All of that being said, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject…
Believe nothing no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense.
I do not claim to be an expert on anything but my life as I have lived it so far. Yes I have a degree in History, but all that means is I have a decent memory and I know how to research. But I do not claim to be an expert by any means. I do, however, have a very deep understanding on the best way for me to possibly live. This is what I want to share with you. It may help you, and it may not. If it helps, great, if not then I apologize, but thank you for taking the time to read.
I am generally a very happy, content person. I have not always been this way, and it has taken some learning for me to get this way. People get so caught up in the routine of every day life that they forget to stop and enjoy the beauty in the simplicity of life. In the long run, what do we accomplish? I’m not asking for a breakdown of every single accomplishment in your life. In general, what did those accomplishments get you? Happiness? Love? Heartache? It is different for everyone, since we all have our own unique situations. I think our day to day decisions affect our lives in the larger spectrum, and we really need to make a conscious effort to make the best decisions for ourselves. This means stopping to think and analyze each decision to see if it will contribute or detract from our long-term goals, whatever those may be.
So, as I generally like to do, I will leave you with a question:
Are the decisions you make day to day contributing towards your long-term goals or detracting from them?