Mar 5, 2013

Modified Minimalism

Modified Minimalism

I am a huge fan of minimalism.

Minimalistic decoration, minimalistic fashion, and most importantly, minimalism in terms of personal material possessions.

I find the feeling of being able to live out of a carry-on bag very liberating.  The fact is, we can get by on a lot less than we think.  That goes for a lot of things in life (external validation, junk food, porn, toilet paper, alcohol, etc.). Today, I’m going to be focusing on material possessions.

Physical clutter creates mental clutter.  Mentally, it is very draining to have a lot of things that you are keeping track of, even on an unconscious level.

Modifying The Minimalism Model

I’ve tried the extreme side of minimalism.  Within a 48 hour span, I once donated/gave away/Craiglist’ed about 95% of all of the things that I owned.  I was ruthless.

Guitar?  I haven’t played this in a week, who needs it.

CD’s and DVD’s?  I have an iPhone that covers both of those.

My first pair of baby shoes?  Won’t wear those ever again.

Predictably, after another 24 hours passed since the manic-like life purge, I felt some pangs of regret.  Much less than I expected, but still a few small ones.  I missed my guitar.  I regretted tossing one of my old journals.  There was one shirt that I wished I hadn’t donated.  But other than that, I was fine.  My room felt un-cluttered and so did my mind.

In the book The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt cites a study in which he found a correlation between suicide rates and the constraints in peoples lives.  It might seem counterintuitive, but those who had more bonds and obligations in their lives were far less likely to commit suicide than those who had too few attachments.

As it turns out, too much freedom and detachment isn’t very good for your emotional health.  Purge the unnecessary, but KEEP the things that bring you joy, fulfillment, and a sense of connection.

The Hidden Cost Of Stuff

So which things should you keep and which should you get rid of?  Here is a quick-use guide to help you with your decisions.

1. Does it have hidden costs attached to it?

Is it a magazine or service subscription that you don’t even use? Is it a dress shirt that costs $8 per dry clean? Does it need a dozen AA batteries to function for an hour or two?  If it’s draining your financial resources, toss it.

2. Have you used it in the last six months?

Be honest with yourself.  When was the last time you used it?  If you haven’t used it recently, there’s a very small chance you’ll be using it in the near future.  Get over your pack-rat tendencies, and say adios to your dusty old belongings.

3. If it were offered to you today, would you still accept it into your life?

This question can be applied to every area of your life (your job, your girlfriend, your social circle) and it bears repeating.  If I offered you your old video game system, or hole-filled shirt, would you still want it today?  Chances are, the thing that you’re on the fence about is already past it’s expiration date.

After reading these questions, you probably realize that you can get rid of about 70% of your clothes, books, and possessions that you have floating around.  And that is awesome.  The socially conditioned part of your brain wants to hold on to these to have a sense of belonging and identity, but I guarantee that you won’t miss any of what you throw away.

So look around your bedroom… your house… your life…

What things that you surround yourself with actually ADD to you as a person?  What brings you frequent happiness and fulfillment?  If the answer is ‘basically none of it’, then maybe it’s time to shake up the routine and do some spring-cleaning.

Blog

Related

See All
Why You Should Make Time For The Things That Matter
Apr 13, 2016
Jordan Gray
Why You Should Make Time For The Things That Matter
There's a funny quirk when it comes to human behaviour and motivation... Most people will do anything to solve a deeply painful experience that they feel in the present moment, but very little to prevent that same event from entering their life in the future. But it is exactly these...
Continue Reading
The Intentional Life Ep.4: Morning Rituals With Stefan Pylarinos
Jun 12, 2016
Jordan Gray
The Intentional Life Ep.4: Morning Rituals With Stefan Pylarinos
Today on The Intentional Life, I speak to my friend Stefan Pylarinos about the power of morning rituals. Stefan, more than almost anyone I know on the planet, exemplifies the word intentional. Everything that he does has purpose behind it. From the way that he wakes up in the morning to how he goes...
Continue Reading
7 Steps To Financial Freedom
Dec 8, 2019
Jordan Gray
7 Steps To Financial Freedom
The majority of the world lives paycheque to paycheque with little to no savings in the bank. And not having money sucks. Imagine waking up in the morning with zero debt. Imagine never having to worry about how you are going to pay for your rent/mortgage/groceries ever again. Imagine waking up with...
Continue Reading
How To Change Your Partner
Jul 22, 2014
Jordan Gray
How To Change Your Partner
One of the most common questions that I get asked by my clients is how they can encourage their partner to grow and develop as a person, while bringing up the subject from a loving place (as opposed to a challenging place that would make them think something was wrong with them). Whether you want...
Continue Reading
In Praise Of Praise
Nov 26, 2013
Jordan Gray
In Praise Of Praise
I met a recently engaged couple while living in Thailand earlier this year. I asked Phil to share his favourite thing about his fiancee, Emily, and he was quick to answer. “Emily is really nurturing and patient with me. She’s very sweet to me when I need it the most.” Emily was completely taken aback....
Continue Reading
12 Romantic Proposal Ideas For You To Steal
Apr 1, 2021
Jordan Gray
12 Romantic Proposal Ideas For You To Steal
So you’re ready to get down on one knee and tie the knot with the love of your life… Before we get to talking about ways to do it, let me grab my trumpet and set off some confetti cannons… Because that is amazing! (*Cue explosions and marching band*) The fact that you’re at a place in your relationship...
Continue Reading