Mindful Moments

Minimalism Life Weekly Edit

“Keeping memories doesn’t mean keeping clutter.”

—The Minimalists


We’d like to invite you to subscribe to and support our Inside Minimalism series, which offers exclusive essays by our small team of writers on living simply.


Focus on What You Can Control

There are three things you can control every day. Your attitude, your effort, and your actions.

By Tod Meisner

The fact is simple. You are NOT in control. Not of everything, at least. However, you can focus on what is within your control and play the odds. If you focus on the things you can control, you will place yourself in the most ideal situations, most often. By doing that, odds are, life will work out the way you want it more often than not.

How Do You Do This?

So, how do you do this? By focusing on what you can control.

How do you know what you can control? You must start by understanding the difference between what you can control and what you can’t. This is very important.

I personally believe there are three things that you can focus on every day to ensure you’re focusing on what you can control. These three things are your attitude, your effort, and your actions.

  1. Keep a positive attitude

  2. Work hard every day

  3. Ensure your actions are making yourself and others better

If you can do these three simple things each day, you’re focusing on areas you can control and that are important.

Attitude

Choose to be positive. Positivity is contagious. Positivity makes you worth interacting with each day. Be someone that other people look forward to seeing each day.

I challenge you to try and be the most enthusiastic person you know. See how much this impacts those around you in a positive way.

Effort

Your work ethic doesn’t form overnight. It takes years and years of honing your skills and grinding until you reach your goals. You get to those goals by putting in the work. By sitting at the desk and working hard.

I equate this to the age-old question, “How to you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. Show up and do the work and work hard each day, one day at a time. Stack these hard-working days on top of each other and eventually you naturally form your work ethic.

Actions

You know the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated. It is a maxim found in many religions and popular culture. Align your actions with your long term values and beliefs.

Go out of your way to be kind to those around you. Open a door. Give a compliment. Ask someone how they’re doing—and genuinely listen to their answer. Take someone out to lunch. You’ll be amazed at how these acts of kindness will transform your life.

Focus on what you can control to ensure your life works out the way you want. There can be a lot of variables in your life and you can’t control many of them. Focus on what you can control and watch your life change. I promise it’s not a cliché, it’s the truth.

What about you? Will you start focusing on these three areas to change your life for the better?


Slow Traveling Minimalist

How slow travel and minimalism make the perfect pair

By Shelley Gautam

There is so much more to traveling than getting dressed up to take the perfect pictures in front of major tourist attractions. And, don’t get me wrong—there are times when I do that too! But slow traveling? It is immersive, minimalist, leisurely, cheaper, and provides an in depth understanding of daily culture in a new place.

On a vacation you might push yourself to exhaustion for five consecutive days in the name of sight-seeing. But, what would it be like to stay somewhere for a month or longer? To stay in for a couple days because you’re tired or in a mood? To make friends with the shop owner across the street who always offers amusing conversation infused with regional charm? To feel conflicted about your boredom when you just got here two weeks ago? Or to check out the local library and get lost in a new book while exploring a new town? What is it like to feel entirely at home in a new place? Cozy under a heated blanket while looking out the window to a view of the mountains and wondering what you’ll do next weekend? Maybe go back to the same bar you went to last weekend and continue an unfinished conversation?

If I may use the analogy of yoga—you think the asanas feel good? Try the asanas followed by 30 minutes of meditation. That is the difference between vacation and slow travel. Your life will change.

I learned early on that minimalism is key for effective slow travel. In driving from Michigan to Montana, I have narrowed down my belongings to two small carry-on sized bags, a backpack, box of shoes, and one ice chest full of Indian food that my mother insisted on me taking along. Honestly, there was plenty of room in the car for me to pack more things. But for what purpose do I need more things? Because I have with me only things that serve me, I value all of the things that I have. Furthermore, those things can all be easily replaced if needed. 

Minimalism has created room in my life for the things that are truly important to me: people, experiences, and deep introspection. It’s true that slow traveling may not be for everyone. I am fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to work from home (to be able to work remotely is a form of minimalism in itself). I can take my work with me wherever I go in the US so long as I have a solid internet connection. I can book an Airbnb for a month or two at a time in different cities. Or I can choose to stay put if I’m in a place that truly speaks to me.

That is the essence of minimalism, isn’t it? Freedom.


A Little More of Less

A few other articles we think you might enjoy…

The Problem with Turning Your House into a Toy Store by Joshua Becker

9 Things I Refuse To Make Time for Anymore by Courtney Carver

Progress, Not Perfection by Gabrielle Jette


Are any of your friends interested in minimalism or living simply?

If so, please invite them to subscribe.


Brought to You By

MinimalissimoThe Minimalists, and 5 STYLE

Mindful Moments

Minimalism Life Weekly Edit

“Letting go is the ultimate superpower.”

—The Minimalists


We’d like to invite you to subscribe to and support our Inside Minimalism series, which offers exclusive essays by our small team of writers on living simply.


The Creative Life

How minimalism frees up the time and space to create

By Alicia Woodward

Once my life was free from clutter and meaningless activity, I naturally discovered I had a lot more time on my hands. At last, I had time to explore my creativity in ways I’d never considered before. 

A few days ago, I found myself trudging into our patch of woods holding a hand saw. Without their cluttered leaves, I could see the intricate shapes of the saplings rising from the ground. I was looking for one about twelve feet tall with an inch-round trunk and several pretty limbs branching out from its center. 

When I found it, I cut it down and dragged it through the woods to our house, through the front door and into our home. The tree was taller than it seemed outdoors, so I cut off another foot and firmly planted it behind our bed frame. 

I spent the afternoon making little origami birds to hang from the branches, while my husband—who is almost always amused by my quirky ideas—safely secured the tree to the wall. 

I realize that my natural, minimalist aesthetic isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. When asked her opinion, my daughter said that it reminded her of the Blair Witch Project, demonstrating that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. In my mind, I’d brought the whimsy of nature indoors. I felt a surge of accomplishment, joy, and creativity. 

In his book The Courage to Create, Rollo May wrote, “We express our being by creating. Creativity is a necessary sequel to being.” We were created to create. 

Our desire for creativity is seen in the popularity of television programs featuring ordinary people being creative. Watching other people bake cakes, plant gardens, and build tree houses may make good television, but it doesn’t garner the same positive benefits as doing it ourselves. 

So what stops us from exploring our creativity? Minimalism rid me of the number one excuse: not enough time. Still, I came up with a few more. Here are my top excuses and what I tell myself in response to them. 

  1. I don’t know how. You learn by doing. You’ll figure it out. 

  2. I’m not good at it. You create for your own enjoyment. If it turns out great, that’s just a bonus. 

  3. I’m not inspired. Go outside. Nature holds all the inspiration you’ll ever need. 

  4. I’m lazy. Get up and carpe the heck out of that diem. 

Get rid of your excuses. Even if you haven’t made anything since that diorama for your seventh-grade literature class, you are creative. Boldly answer your call to create. 

Paint. Dance. Weave. Sing. Bake. Carve. Invent. Cook. Design. Sculpt. Fix. Plant. Decorate. Sew. Draw. Write. Act. Quilt. Build.

Research shows that being creative can reduce stress and anxiety and improve happiness, confidence, focus, problem-solving, authenticity, self-expression, sense of freedom, resilience, open-mindedness, risk-taking, decision-making, and mental clarity.


In Defence of Boredom

The life-changing art of curiosity

By Madison Robertson

When was the last time you felt curiosity? When was the last time you let yourself fall down the rabbit-hole of thoughts that wasn’t based in anxiety, or the last time you allowed yourself to truly wonder, and then take the time to research something you were interested in? When did you last let yourself feel boredom and just exist?

For most of us, the answer to this may be harder than we care to admit. In a world of constant stimulation, the art of just being has been lost. It appears we are constantly doing something. Even in the most mundane of moments, like when we are cleaning or are in the shower, most of us listen to a new podcast or put on our favorite album to fill the air. When we are waiting in line for our coffee or riding the subway, we scroll through our feeds, filling the time with an action just to keep us from staring into space. Why do we do this? Because it seems unproductive to just sit, or just to clean, or just to shower. We couldn’t bear to “just” do anything, because then we aren’t being productive. We wouldn’t be making the most of our time, and god forbid our days be “empty”.

But see, I think there is a value in seemingly boring, unstimulated, raw moments. The ones where we are simply in one place, just existing—the time where we can be present in our environment simply by disconnecting for a moment. These are the most fulfilling moments, even though they are the simplest. I am speaking, in a way, in defence of boredom; in defence of slowing down and entertaining our train of thought. Out of boredom is born curiosity, and with curiosity comes learning. 

The key to boredom and curiosity is slowing down to think, allow the mind to wander, and stopping to listen to the music of life. Slowing down is a cornerstone of ‘a good life’ and seems to go hand-in-hand with minimalism. Here are the ways I have found that make it possible to just be. 

Passive Quiet Time

This is the easiest way I’ve experienced the ease of true presence and lack of stimulation. Passive Quiet Time is the act of doing one thing at a time, in silence. In essence, this is the opposite of multitasking. It’s getting ready in the morning without listening to a podcast, or going for your daily run without your earbuds in. It’s walking to and from class, listening not to your phone, but to your footsteps and the world around you. The passive nature of this practice simply means taking your current habits, and simplifying them, rather than adding to or changing them. 

Active Quiet Time

This is probably the classic definition of slowing down and allowing for silent moments in your life. Active Quiet Time is making space in your day to add moments that invite boredom and curiosity. This could look like sitting meditation, looking out a window, going for a silent drive, walking meditation, or even prayer. Where Passive Quiet Time is making our normal day more quiet, Active Quiet Time is changing our days to make boredom and curiosity just as important as catching the subway or eating. 

Dopamine Fast/Stimulation Detox

By now, we all have heard of a digital detox or Screenless Sundays. These are helpful for removing arguably the biggest hindrance to boredom, and therefore allow ample space for shower thoughts. If you’re looking for a 180-degree flip and complete reset, a more extreme version of a digital detox might be just the thing you are looking for. According to Nathaniel Drew, a minimalist YouTuber whose entire channel is about finding mental clarity, a dopamine fast comprises of just that: no dopamine. This means no screens, no books, no social interaction, no eating. It is essentially asking yourself to be as bored as humanly possible in order to really invite in curiosity and allow our train of thought to go places we didn’t know they could go. I myself have never done this, but it certainly seems to embody the extreme of “slowing down”.So, we have discussed why boredom is good, and how to thereby invite the consequential curiosity into our lives. Now, what is there to do with our shower thoughts and seemingly deep life questions that are bound to come up when we give ourselves nothing to do but think?

Write It Down

I encourage you to write out your train of thought as another way of journaling. From seemingly unimportant thoughts to big life questions, every idea is fair game. Over time, you’ll be able to look back at your thoughts and see where your curiosity lies. 

Do Some Research

When was the last time you looked something up because you were curious about it? Probably recently, given that we have Google at our fingertips. But when was the last time you actually fact checked a social media post, or opened a book to learn something new? These are the moments that allow us to expand our range of knowledge, even if the only times we use this knowledge is on trivia nights. 

Talk About It

I have a lot of thoughts. And when I have these shower thoughts, I can’t help but share them. I understand and learn best by talking. So, for me, my close friends and family get the brunt of my “uselessly” philosophical questions and thoughts. It is through these conversations about things like why a pair of pants is always referred to as the pleural that my family is allowed to express their own curiosities and use their boredom for good. Maybe for you, you tell your dog or partner about your shower thoughts, or dedicate your Twitter feed to them and allow the internet to think along with you. Whatever you do, shower thoughts are a wonderful conversation starter.

I invite you to take the next 15 minutes to stop and sit in silence, to make a little space for simplicity and active quiet time. Allow your mind to simply wander, have a shower thought or two. Once that 15 minutes is up, I invite you to encourage that curiosity, and see what kinds of things you can learn about from both yourself and the world.


A Little More of Less

A few other articles we think you might enjoy…

The Minimalists Unscripted by The Minimalists

The Uncertainty of What You Should Be Working on Right Now by Leo Babauta

What I Learned From a Digital Declutter by Emily McDermott


Are any of your friends interested in minimalism or living simply?

If so, please invite them to subscribe.


Brought to You By

MinimalissimoThe Minimalists, and 5 STYLE

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