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Living More with Less
Why asking the important questions leads to better alignment in our lives
By Parth Sawhney
We spend all our lives in the pursuit of more, and that’s how we get trained in the society we live in. But if we choose to live mindfully and intentionally, there is an alternate way we can live our lives; living a simple life with less. Minimalists follow the simple equation: Less stuff = More life. The reasons are simple:
More Time and Energy
The less we own, the less time and energy we spend on ‘managing’ our stuff. We get more time and energy to do things that matter the most to us.
A cluttered home is also a symptom of a cluttered mind. With less visual clutter and more empty space, our mind gets less overwhelmed. With a relaxed mind, we are able to focus better and attain a flow state easily.
The more clutter we have, the easier it becomes to lose things and forget the important ones. Stuff adds more stress to our lives as we need to constantly work towards managing, organizing, and cleaning them, leaving us worried and frustrated. Owning less basically translates to eliminating things that make us feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
With less stuff, we are able to get back the compromised space in our rooms, closets, and basements. With empty spaces, we are able to ‘breathe’. Instead of succumbing ourselves to an invisible faux claustrophobic environment, we start to realize that we have more than enough space to live a happy life. We are able to finally relieve ourselves of a need for more.
When we let go of stuff, we let go of the baggage that was previously anchoring us down. We become free mentally, physically, and spiritually. We get more time, space, and money and we can do whatever we want with them.
With freedom also comes flexibility. Instead of working for long hours, we can shorten our time working and spend more quality time with our partner or our children. We can work on projects that truly align with us and add immense value to other people’s lives with the flexibility that we don’t get in a regular job.
Minimalism helps us get rid of excess and a great side benefit of this is that we uncover our core values in the process. To paraphrase The Minimalists, our short-term actions start aligning with our long-term values. We can decipher what we truly enjoy and what matters to us the most.
More Efficiency and Productivity
With fewer things around vying for our attention, and with better organization, the speed with which we do our tasks and household chores increases drastically. We spend less time and still finish all the work efficiently. Our productivity skyrockets.
We realize that what we own doesn’t determine our identity and our character. We begin to understand that our words and actions communicate to the world what kind of person we are—not our stuff. We become convinced of the truth that our self-worth is intrinsic and cannot be measured by our material possessions.
When we start living with less, we become more appreciative of the things that we already have in our homes and our lives. Everything that we have adds value to our life in one way or the other and we feel contented. When we become aware that what we have is enough for us, we are able to cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude.
Giving away our non-essentials can sometimes contribute to the betterment of someone’s life. Our junk can be someone’s treasure. Our stuff finds a better home and is able to again add value to someone else’s life. Also, we are able to direct some of the money that we save from buying less towards charity or supporting a worthy cause. Last, but not the least, when we consume and buy less we make the world a better place by reducing our environmental footprint and waste.
More Quality Relationships
We have more time to spend with our partner, play with our kids, or meet a friend for a coffee. We also become more open and comfortable with inviting friends and loved ones to our place as there is less tidying and upkeep required. Our home becomes a soothing haven to nurture and develop our friendships and relationships. As an outcome, they deepen and flourish with time.
When we adopt a minimalist lifestyle, we learn to ask the right questions. Sure, it starts with asking questions about the stuff we have in our homes, but then we get on a trail of asking better and deeper questions:
What is truly important to me?
What kind of work brings me more meaning and fulfillment?
What things and activities help me experience long-lasting joy?
When we ask these questions, we are able to attain better alignment in all areas of our lives. We understand that happiness doesn’t come from our belongings, but it comes from our experiences. As Henry Van Dyke points out, ‘Happiness is interior, not exterior; therefore, it does not depend on what we have, but on what we are.’
When we embrace minimalism and own less, we also tend to spend less money. And whenever we buy, we do it intentionally having put a lot of thought behind our purchase. We buy because we need something and see it having a purpose and meaning in our lives, not because it is cheap or for sale. We are also able to save money that we can direct towards things that fulfill us such as traveling or cultivating our passion.
A Road to Recovery
How minimalism helped me escape anorexia
By Alexie Monti
“Do you know what the most self-deprecating thing is?” my psychology teacher asked us the first day of school. The class of seniors stared at her, as only seconds ago we were laughing about how fast the previous three years of high school have passed. She looked grimly across the room before answering, “applying for college.”
And it was, unfortunately, true. No matter where I walked in the hallways, there would be a conversation going on between students comparing grades, sports, and extracurricular activities. Someone would always be better than the other; succeeding more. In my mind, this meant that I needed to work harder, stay on top of the game, and come out better than those around me.
This mindset consumed me—and not just in school. With sports, there was always someone better. I was continually looking for ways to “beat” them, which led to an unhealthy behavior of eating less and exercising more.
Life became weirdly organized with nonstop activity between waking up and going to bed. In-between the two bookends, life was filled with school, chores, hockey practice, and after-practice gym time. Sleep was my favorite thing and it was the only time my body truly rested. I was trapped in my own life that I could not see the reality around me, and I refused to let myself see who I was becoming—a pile of skin and bones with sunken eyes trying to chase after another person’s dream, thinking it would lead to my happiness.
I was anything but happy and the only thing that forced the chase to stop was a hospital stay due to heart disease.
As I sat in my room upon the hospital discharge, I asked, “what now? What do I want?” I looked around at all the clutter in my room, filled with undesirable memories, and I shuddered. I grabbed a trash bag and I knew when I emptied the physical clutter, I was finally doing something for me. This is just the first step in my recovery, but minimalism has already cleared the path for me to identify what is important to me and what I need to do to move forward with purpose, strength, and self-efficacy.
A Little More of Less
A few other articles we think you might enjoy…
What is Minimalism? Maybe it’s not what you think by Courtney Carver
An Uncluttered Story of a Modern Family by Zoë Kim
Be Wary of People Who Want Too Much Control by Joshua Hook
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