Saturday, April 1, 2017

Minimalism

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Apparently having no money or zero affinity for malls had indirectly turned me towards having minimalism tendencies so I was thrilled to find out I didn’t need to make any drastic changes to reach my new goal of being a minimalist. But Emperor Bert, what is a minimalist?

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupe

It would seem to me that minimalism can take different shapes and adaptations. Minimalism is essentially about everything you owning in your life giving you value. You love collecting old robots to display around the house? Great! Get another one. You just need to have another Dallas Cowboys game worn helmet? Super duper! The key is being able to answer these two questions:

1         1- Can you afford it? Affording it does not just mean not going into debt buying it but also maintaining, storing etc. the item.
      2- Does it add value to your life?

The tipping point in me learning and trying to embrace minimalism came during my trip to Colombia. The night before leaving, my friend Kenora came over to hangout, drive me to the airport in the morning (top notch friend) and also watch me pack whilst we watched The Godfather. Granted, I was in the state of mind of hoping to be in Colombia long term and live there for the next two years so I packed slightly more than I would have normally. Not long after arriving in Colombia, I knew I brought too much stuff. I had one checked bag that is a classic backpack you see on guidebooks. I also had a gym bag completely filled and a school backpack with little to no room left inside. 


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Everywhere I went I had these bags. I took up entire back and front seats of the cabs I procured. It took some of the fun out of my trip to be sure. Every time I contemplated changing hostels or cities I inevitably looked at my bags as dead weight I’d need to lug around on the next leg of the tour. Eventually I was going to a national park/jungle near the sea and the hostel I was staying before leaving let people keep their bags while they were away. I WAS FREE! I still brought too much stuff and left a few things I could have used but net net it was a win.

“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.”
 Swedish Proverb.

After coming home, I promised I wouldn’t make that mistake again. I had heard/read about minimalism before but now I was motivated to make gains. I started listening to a minimalism podcast, watched a documentary on Netflix and their TedTalks. When my quick turnaround to China happened, I was excited to see how few things I could bring. Instead of bringing the three bags I brought to Colombia, I only brought my gym bag and my school backpack. A few pairs of pants, shirts, underwear, socks, my jacket, a few electronics, books, toiletries and a few other miscellaneous items and I was on my way. Granted, I needed to be talked out of bringing the largest book I’ve bought by my brother’s wife but overall, I’m proud that I have been able to live with fewer things.

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(Side note: I only brought 3 pairs of pants I can wear to work and two of them are blue and I wear a blue jacket every day so I look like a blueberry. Another teacher told me the kids have started calling me Blue Man. I bought new clothes this week mainly to shed this slur I’ve been given.)

My apartment barely has anything but I did buy a cheap piece of art from IKEA and I have a Canadian flag that decorates my couch. The students at my school go to a mall almost every Sunday and I want to tell them not to buy things but to embrace experiences but they already think I’m old and out of touch so I might wait to teach them about minimalism till next fall when I have more street cred.

“Love people use things because the opposite never works.”

What about Christmas and birthdays presents? Your Emperor is here to help.
Think about all the gifts you’ve received throughout your entire life. Think about it…….I said THINK ABOUT IT! DETENTION! Oh sorry…force of habit.

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That dress you received? New tires? Your colourful loofah? Eraser? New hair gel? My guess is probably not. You probably remember going to Disney with your family or that fishing trip with your grandpa. We remember experiences not things. I usually gives gifts that I can do with that person or gives them time with someone they like more than me. Books aren’t a bad idea as long as they are minimized after using i.e. given away to someone new. Go to a concert, art show, Wonderland, farmer’s market, skating, snowboarding, scuba diving, geocaching, picnics, sailing and countless other outside exploration ideas. Go on an adventure. I feel like these aren’t radical ideas but it is easier to just buy something that is on someone’s list and move on. I say put a little extra thought and think about what you two could do together or give them an experience to enjoy without you.

“This is your life and it is ending one minute at a time.”

Getting started:

TedTalks: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgBpyNsS-jU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7rewjFNiys&t=917s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XRPbFIN4lk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXlNvlzd9M8

Minimalism documentary on Netflix.

Minimalism articles:

http://www.theminimalists.com/archives/#popular
https://markmanson.net/minimalism
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/27/self-made-millionaire-threw-everything-away-and-lives-out-of-airbnbs.html
Minimalism podcast:

http://www.theminimalists.com/podcast/


Minimalism Books:

Everything That Remains-Millburn and Nicodemus
Live a Meaningful Life-Millburn and Nicodemus

If you are against clicking on things, here is another suggestion people use to get started. The 30 day minimalism challenge. Find a friend, family member or lover (preferably not all three in one) and attempt the 30 day minimalism challenge. Each day get rid of that many items.



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Day 1: Get rid of one thing.
Day 2: Get rid of two things.
Day 10: Get rid of ten things.
Day 15: Get rid of fifteen things….etc

Until you’ve reached the end of the month. If you both make it to the end of the month, everyone wins and you’ve gotten rid of around 500 items! Yaaay! Another good way to get started is to ask yourself “How could my life be better with less?” Getting rid of everything then coming home to each room being empty won’t make you happier but maybe not having that clutter or being able to park your car in your garage could add value. The average American household has around 300, 000 items. While you might not make it the thirty days, you could put a big dent into things you don’t need. Donate clothes, toys or books you no longer use. Reconsider if it’s worth paying hundreds of dollars each year for your storage unit to store things you probably aren’t using hence they aren’t in your house. Storage units really grind my gears if you’re wondering.

“You say ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake, if you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” 
Charles Spurgeon

To sum up, if you think this is silly and I’m a wacko, fair enough. If you think you might have a few too many things, start with one area of your house and do what you can. I wish you a minimum amount of luck with your journey.


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“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.”

Jackie French Koller


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