Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Love People, Use Things - A Lesson In Minimalism

What if everything you've ever wanted, you don't actually want?

All this 'shopping'. All these meaningless choices.

It's OK to 'want' things, but how often do we ever stop to ask ourselves 'why'?

What gap in our life are we filling with that 'stuff'?

These are questions posed in a documentary I've just discovered on Netflix. 

Here's the  trailer:

Minimalism is worth a watch, when you're snuggled on the sofa on a cold Sunday afternoon!

It's left me thinking and reflecting...

"You will not be happier by consuming more."

Many of us in the western world are trapped in a cycle of compulsory consumption that is tearing apart the fabric of society and destroying the planet.

We've grown up with this lie - sold to us by corporations whose only motivation is to make money - that we need more 'stuff' to find happiness.

I could get political and talk about the rise of Neo-Liberalism since Thatcher and Reagan in the '80s, and the Capitalist Economic Model, but in truth, politics bores me (in fact it irritates me). 

I don't want to be preachy here, I just want to share lessons learned for my own life - to inspire myself, and perhaps others. 

It starts with rejecting the undercurrent of consumerism. 

To create a template that works for us. 

To do more with less.

Get Serious

If I'm truly serious about spending more time traveling, experiencing new places and new adventures, I need to learn to let go. 

I need to travel light. 

I need to practice minimal living.

I don't want to be lumbering around carrying baubles and trinkets who's only purpose is decorative.

I'll have to accept that I don't need 50 notebooks, hundreds of coloured pens, shelves full of books, 20 pairs of shoes and a wardrobe full of cheap clothes!

This will be an evolution for me, rather than a revolution. 

Evolution Vs Revolution

I'm not suddenly going to go from a 4 bedroom house with my husband (Graham) - full of stuff accumulated over our 23-year relationship - to living from a backpack! 

I'm not sure, at my age, I can reduce down to 51 things in the entire world (and I don't think I want to!) 

And I certainly don't expect Graham to do this either.

Finding A Balance At Home

I'll admit it, I'm not going to make out I'm all worthy and puritanical about only having what I need!  

I love cosyness. I love softness. I love cushions and fairy lights. I love scented candles and house plants and soft bedding. I love the look and smell of a fully loaded bookcase.

I don't want to live somewhere cold and austere - I'm not intending to renounce all worldy possessions anytime soon and spend my life wearing sack-cloths and sandals!  

(This is not my home and nor would I want it to be!)

All that being true, the whole point of a life as a roaming entrepreneur is to live from a different perspective. 

To experience true freedom, and that means being free from the responsibility of too much 'stuff'.

It's not only about letting go of clutter and trinkets, it's also about making the physical space to create the mental space.

It's something I'll need to practice at home, in my every day life. Something to get accustomed to. 

To live with less. 

To declutter.

A Minimal Movement

Finding this trailer on YouTube, made me realise just how much content there is out there on this idea of relinquishing stuff for the sake of stuff and living a simpler, more sustainable life.

The journey towards simplicity

To start that process of decluttering my home, my life and moving towards a more portable existence, I'll need to resolve some fundamentals.

Every possession must serve a purpose or bring joy. I need to evaluate what I have and ask, "Does this add value to my life?".

It's not about living an 'easy' life, but a living a simpler one.

Affordability. Simplicity. Sustainability


If we can reduce our life, we can reduce our overheads. Our debts and outgoings. 

Our biggest debt is the mortgage. 

When we returned to the UK from Bulgaria (a story for another time), we had nothing but a car full of stuff. 

For a month we lived in a friend's spare bedroom, before moving into a 1 bed flat.

Of course, we then had to fill that flat with furniture! 

Then we moved to a 2 bed house, with a lodger and 2 cats, which involved buying more furniture to fill the rooms.

Then we moved to our current house, with 3 bedrooms and an attic room. More furniture. More stuff. 

It's amazing how quickly you can fill a newly acquired space!

With acquired space is acquired responsibility to service the debt for that space. 

Servicing that debt to contain our stuff currently involves being at work.

At least, being self-employed, I do actually spend a lot of time in that house. Unlike many people, who have a house and most of the time (except when they're asleep) they're not even in it because they're out earning money to pay for it!

To enable us to travel, we can cover this responsibility by renting the house out - being in a popular urban area. 

We need to declutter to rent the house. We don’t want to be paying to store stuff (anymore)! 

Step 1 - What do we have and what do we need?

Living deliberately: Not ‘consuming’ is not about taking away. 

It’s adding responsibility for the resources we use. 
Adding intention. 
Adding quality. 
Adding value.
Remove the unnecessary and all that remains is what’s important.

Letting Go Is A Process

Step 2: Work shelf by shelf, draw by draw, cupboard by cupboard, room by room.

Fortunately, we don’t have expensive hobbies or expensive tastes, but we've still managed to fill cupboards and storage boxes, and wardrobes and drawers in every room!

Maslow on Motivation

Watching the film and reflecting on the notion of 'Life Editing' reminded me of a motivation model I've studied in my career practice as a trainer, mentor and coach...

Image source: Wikipedia

In this commonly used model for human motivation, Maslow proposes the phsychological theory that on our journey to self-actualistion (fulfilling our potential) there are various needs that must be met first:

Physiological: Shelter. Food. Water. Sleep.

Safety: Personal, financial and emotional security.

Love/Belonging: Family, friends, companionship, intimacy.

Esteem: Status. To be accepted, valued and respected.

Once these needs have been met,
self-actualisation is about the accumulation of experiences and wisdom, not 'stuff'.

More To Life

More to life than bills money and work. 

More to life than working to buy stuff. 

More to life than having a massive debt for a building to store stuff in, and working to pay that debt.
Less is more. Be Intentional. Stay simple.

Step 3: Now all we need to do is live deliberately, with less, and see where the journey takes us! 

A lasting word from the Minimalism film...

Love People, Use Things - because the opposite never works!

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