Tips for living a minimalist life
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the idea of a “minimalist lifestyle,” partly because I am trying to save money (I mean, let’s get serious), partly to try to change my lifestyle to one that is easily adaptable to change and travel (i.e. getting rid of the unnecessary/avoiding the acquisition of the unnecessary) and partly because the idea itself appeals to me. Like my brother used to tell me–during the time when we all lived together after he returned from the Peace Corps–you’re just buying unnecessary crap to fill a void.
I think that is one of the many reasons I love the idea of backpacking; to have all that you need condensed into the 50L pack on your back–and each of those items must serve a specific role. It’s a pretty incredible feeling to strip away all those extras.
Here is a particularly inspiring list written by Mike Donghia, on artofminimalism.com of 103 essential rules to living minimally.
1. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Most real food is easy to pronounce – like peas, apples, nuts, berries, and beans. Avoid doozies like these- Monosodium glutamate, Butylated hydroxytoluene, and tert-Butylhydroquinone
2. Be frugal and stay out of debt. Debt hangs over your head like a nasty storm cloud. It keeps you from complete autonomy and makes you into a modern-day slave.
3. You’re a biped, walk everywhere. There’s no better way to enjoy the earth than by walking all over it.
4. When in doubt, throw it out. If you haven’t used it in 6 months, you probably don’t need it.
5. Check your email once a day, at most. Compulsive email checking is an epidemic. Quit cold turkey.
6. Wear it twice (or thrice). Apparently, this rule doesn’t apply to underwear.
7. Wash your dishes mindfully. Chores don’t have to be so bad. Put a smile on and enjoy the rhythms of the job.
8. Appreciate art in many forms. Not just paintings and music. But teacher’s lessons, and blogs posts, and crisp, fall mornings.
9. Treat everything as an end in itself. Do something because you enjoy it, or because it’s important to you.
10. Turn of your cellphone. A ringing cell-phone is not conducive to intimate conversation or a dreamy first date. Be present.
11. Sit still, enjoy it. We’re not used to stopping, even for a short time. Let go of everything else and just be.
12. Take a few deep breaths. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Feel the oxygen rush through your capillaries.
13. Use a distraction free text editor. The human brain is unmatched in its ability to be distracted. Stack the odds in your favor – use darkroom.
14. Unless it’s urgent, cancel the meeting. Meetings are 95% a waste of time. Send a memo instead and ask for a brief response in writing.
15. Bury yourself in a good novel. Stories bring meaning to the world we live in, and yet make it seem like one big dream.
16. Be authentically yourself. You’re you for a reason. Don’t put on a mask, hide your emotions, or put on a show. Just be you.
17. Speak in plain, soft words. Everyone is slowly raising their voice to be heard in the crowd. Soon, the whole world will be shouting.
18. Wink at the cashier. They’re human too. And yet so often we swipe our plastic and walk straight out of their lives.
19. Use one towel the entire week. If you’re doing a good job in there, that towel should stay clean for eternity, right? Less is more my friend.
20. Quit multi-tasking. Sometimes it’s OK, but most of the time, it’s just keeping you from doing one thing really, really well.
21. Keep a small inner circle of trusted friends. Social media makes us think we can be friends with everyone. You can’t, unless everyone gets a really small piece of you.
22. Mow the law in the slowest gear. Weird: we like the sun, we like the smell of grass, and yet we mow the lawn like speed demons.
23. Buy a reversible belt. 2 for the price of 1. Enough said.
24. Skip the gym membership, play with your kids. I hear kids are expensive, why not tap into their boundless energy and put them to good use.
25. Listen intently, ask questions. It’s a dying art, but listening is your passport to a wealth of wisdom, not to mention some pretty cool friends.
26. Buy a quality pair of jeans and wear them out. You’ll get a sense of completion. Satisfying, in a strange zen-like way.
27. Pay in cold, hard cash. Plastic cards make money seem unreal. Maybe it is? Maybe this is all a big game we’re playing with ourselves.
28. Find a job you love. Time is a precious resource but your boss might not think so. Find a job you won’t dread on Monday mornings, or else, make one.
29. Set fewer goals, let action follow passion. Goals cause you to envy a future you that doesn’t exist. Do what excites you, and the results will surely come.
30. Disconnect from the internet and do something that you’ll probably fail at. We’re safe in our little digital worlds. You can be who you want to be. Every now and then you have to fail at something, just to experience that razor edge.
31. Feel the breeze and taste the salty air. Life is a smorgasbord of sounds, smells, tastes, and sights. Eat your heart out, kid.
32. Go for a run, try to get lost. Don’t set a destination, just go. Turn left, then right, then right again. Repeat until desired result has been achieved.
33. Keep your pockets light. We’re bogged down with so much stuff. Don’t let the madness spill into your pockets.
34. Don’t wish away your today’s for tomorrow’s. It doesn’t hit most people until it’s too late, but life is a blessed gift. Just enjoy it my friend.
35. Avoid advertising like the plague. Like a bad horror flick, they’re in our heads. The future of the human race hinges on our resistance.
36. Is anyone reading this? I like you, a lot.
37. Omit the unnecessary. Pare down your commitments, possessions, words, vices, addictions, and distractions.
38. Focus on the essential. Make room for health, faith, fun, giving, laughing, loving, reading, and chasing your dreams.
39. Automate your income. So much of our time is wasted doing stuff just to make a buck. There are remedies available, inquire within.
40. Throw your TV out the second-story window. Never look back.
41. Take a break from thinking. There’s a steady stream of thoughts that run through our minds all day, every day. If you don’t control it, it will certainly control you.
42. Empty yourself. Experience the lightness of letting go.
43. Pray like you mean it, and then listen. We are more than flesh and bones. Faith gives meaning to the world around us.
44. Give until it hurts, and then, just a little more. Your happiness is so intricately tied to the happiness of others, that it doesn’t make sense to live any other way.
45. Declutter your freakin’ closet. Donate anything you haven’t worn in a year and give your closet some breathing room.
46. And keep your desk clear, minus a picture frame. It’s hard to focus amidst piles of clutter and chaos. Keep flat surfaces clear except for a few accent pieces.
47. Write concisely. Brevity is the key to making a point.
48. No more than 5 words on a Power Point slide. Ever. Boring Power Points are the bane of my existence. Speak with stories and put pictures on your slide that stick in my brain.
49. Keep your speeches pithy, humorous, and to the point. The key to being heard in this noisy world is to pack a powerful punch. Plus, people like to laugh.
50. Respect other people’s time. In the modern world, time is quickly becoming our most precious resource.
51. Do what you love and then get paid for it. If you had the choice, wouldn’t you. You do, now go.
52. Health can’t be measured on a scale, don’t bother. I’d like to know what a scale can tell you that a 5k road race and a mirror couldn’t? You’re either healthy, or you’re not.
53. Stop complaining, enjoy the scenery. Birds, mountains, corn fields, lakes, people – there’s no reason to be bored.
54. Try yoga to calm your soul (and get a sexy six-pack). Yoga is for everyone. It’s a slow way to unwind from a day in the rat-race.
55. Figure out why we’re here. Ask the difficult questions and go wherever they lead you.
56. If you’re standing in line, make a friend. This should go without saying, but then again, we have a nasty habit of getting stuck in our own little worlds.
57. Cut your possessions in half, and then half again. Boom! Welcome to the minimalist lifestyle. Now, go do something that matters.
58. Make your own gifts, and don’t be afraid to mess up. Sometimes its the imperfections that add character. Guy’s note this: girls will think it’s cute anyway.
59. To make money, add value to someone’s life. It’s that simple. #1 money making rule: I will pay you to make my life better or easier or more exciting. #2 money making rule: Be Indispensable
60. Limit all emails to 5 sentences or less. Attention is a limited resource, treat it like gold.
61. Linger at the dinner table. There’s something about sharing a meal together that makes you family. Make this time sacred.
62. Become a great story teller. Stories speak to us, and make us think, and inspire us, and break our hearts.
63. Change just one habit at a time. Never underestimate the power of small, incremental change over the long haul.
64. Cut loose your extra baggage. We come into the world with nothing and leave with nothing. And yet, we insist on caring a bunch of stuff with us while we’re here.
65. Travel lightly. Minimal luggage means maximum adventure.
66. Avoid the touristy areas. Seek out the local people, eat their food, and sleep in their homes.
67. Explore: people and places. We’re not static creatures, our design is based on change, and growth, and awakening. Find people who inspire you to dig deeper.
68. Don’t eat anything that’s symmetrical. Nothing in nature is perfectly round or square – you can’t say the same thing about Oreo’s, Ritz Crackers, and Milky Ways.
69. Check the library first. Libraries are the future of the planet. Not just for books, but for tools, tables, TVs, cars, houses, and a host of other things you can’t imagine, just yet.
70. Walk barefoot in the grass. Now, run and play and skin your knees on something.
71. Downsize your home – better yet – rent an apartment. It costs a lot of money to heat and maintain extra square footage. Simplify.
72. Chew it 20 times before you swallow. And put your fork down between bites. This is how to make room for actual conversations in your life.
73. Play, laugh, giggle, skip, roll, and be merry. In a word: childlike.
74. Stop consuming, create something. Consuming is passive and leaves you emptier. Creating awakens you from the inside out.
75. Sit by the fire and by mystified. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Any time you can engage all 5 senses – you’re doing something right.
76. Let go of expectations. The only thing in the way of your happiness is your perception of how things should turn out.
77. And free yourself from the expectations of others. You’re real friends won’t mind, the rest have a thing or two to learn.
78. Don’t you dare forward that chain email. Oh, don’t you even dare.
79. Live with less than 100 possessions. Just a number, but its become the holy grail of minimalist freedom.
80. Be shamelessly unproductive. Chase someone with a hose, wrestle your friends, make a prank call. Make someone smile.
81. Use lists, they’re easy and fun to read. We could all use a splash of fun in our day, right?
82. Simplify your morning routine. Set the mood for your day: drink a glass of water, sit quietly and pray (or think), stretch and be on your way.
83. Quit reading the newspaper. Bad things happen, stocks go up and down, politicians want your soul. There, I caught you up for the next 6 months.
84. Avoid twitter when you’re tired and vulnerable. Twitter sucks you in and karate chops you across the back. It’s a real time waster, too.
85. Buy quality, well-built products. Mother earth will thank you a thousand times over.
86. Support your local community. Spend your money at mom and pop stores where they still care to know your name.
87. Find joy in little things, like kittens and rain drops. Big picture people tend to be happy when things are going well. Small picture people have a billion reasons to be happy, everyday.
88. Work smarter, not harder. Productivity isn’t everything. In fact, if you’re enjoying yourself, it doesn’t matter. But if you’re not – find a smarter way of working.
89. Be a nomad for one year (or at least a month). We get so attached to physical things. What if we moved with a few people we love and the clothes on our back? What if we became nomads for good?
90. Shop on Black Friday, avoid the other days. Awful congestion, but wicked good sales. I hate shopping, but really, this is the day to do it.
91. Go with the flow, bro. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, something will change. Life is best enjoyed in the moment.
92. Enjoy without owning. A change occurs when you call something yours. It loses a certain value and a connection with the larger world.
93. Stop being spineless, learn to say no. It’s not being rude, you can’t be everything for everyone. Choose wisely.
94. Limit non face-to-face communication. Humans have 5 senses for a reason, a good conversation engages all of them.
95. Purge your inbox like it’s your job. When work piles up, even if it’s out of sight, you will carry that burden with you anywhere you go.
96. Edit your life ruthlessly. Experiment with your approach, ask questions, and cut out the stuff that isn’t working.
97. Spend time alone, without distractions. So few people really know themselves, it take away from their ability to know others.
98. Drive under the speed limit, Speedy Gonzalez. Speed limit – it’s interesting to me that we’ve come to understand that number to be the minimum miles per hour we should be driving.
99. Create a simple weekly dinner menu. Make it healthy and keep it simple. This will make grocery shopping 100x easier.
100. Let go of fake needs. Years of exposure has us convinced that we need to buy something to meet a need. That’s not part of our design. Everything you need to be happy can be grown, introduced, or found.
101. Leave white space in your day. There should be space between the events in your day to leave room for taking it all in.
102. Have the audacity to be content. It takes courage to be content with who you are and where you’re at right now. Millions of advertisements will try to talk you out of it, stay strong my friend.
103. Be faithful to one spouse. Love their guts out. In fact, go give them a hug right now. Not just today, do this every day for the rest of your life.