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Showing posts from October, 2019

Experiments in Living With Less

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Many of us long for a simpler life free from the burden of our stuff, but we don't know how to achieve it.  We are overwhelmed, and we feel trapped in our current way of life.  But deep down, we believe that change could bring a huge payoff:  more time and energy, more money, more freedom, more generosity, less stress, less debt, and less distraction.  But how do we go about making that change? Why not creatively experiment with a more minimalist approach to life to see whether the benefits are worth the effort? The basic idea is to live without a particular possession for a limited amount of time, and then decide if you can or want to do without it permanently.  A few examples might be going for 24 hours without a smart phone , or a month without TV, the microwave, or eating out.  You might try limiting your wardrobe for a three month period, or removing a piece of furniture (like the desk you only use as a clutter catcher) to see how you do without it. In our hyper-

I'm Dreaming of a Simpler Christmas

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I know it's early, and I dislike rushing Christmas, but... if you want to simplify your holidays this year, now is the time to be thinking and planning for that!  And just in time, I've created a fantastic resource for you.  My newest book, Minimalism for the Holidays is available now on Amazon Kindle (which can be read on any device, even your computer, with their free app) and in a beautiful paperback edition!  Look for the link in the sidebar. Meanwhile, here's a sneak peak: ***** I don't want to do it this year.  Just thinking about it is depressing. I'm talking about the Christmas that starts now , before Halloween.  I'm talking about the canned music, the packed parking lots, the over-heated stores, the ads, and the wish lists.  The jam-packed schedules, plastic reindeer, and way too much food. Some people thrive on the noise and the hype and the busyness.  I too used to believe I loved all of that.  But when I think about what really makes

You Can Make A Difference

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash There are billions of people in the world who wish their biggest problems were a cluttered house, an over-busy schedule, picky kids, and that extra 20 pounds. Billions of people don't worry if they have the latest phone, the trendiest clothes, nail art, or a luxury car.  They worry about food, water, and shelter.  They worry that a mosquito bite will make them sick, or that their child will have to leave school to work in a factory for pennies like they do. We didn't choose to be born with all the blessings we have.  We didn't steal anything.  But if we keep it all for ourselves, and indulge in cheap products made by the poor and exploited, then we're doing wrong. Don't wallow in guilt, but do start making different choices. Pay attention to how marketing makes you feel. The goal of advertising is to make us discontented so we will buy whatever they're selling.  Marketers try to convince us that we need their

Rich Minimalists in a Needy World

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Minimalism isn't a numbers game.  It's not about owning only 100 things living in a tiny 300-square-foot house keeping only 10 books wearing only black, white, and gray clothing eating only beans, rice, fruit, and vegetables and drinking only water and green tea Sure, you might experiment by doing any or all of these things in order to learn more about yourself or to help you change your consumer habits, but you can be a minimalist without setting these limits. One of the definitions of minimalism I like comes from Cait Flanders, author of The Year of Less .  She describes it as "the mindset that helps you recognize what adds value to your life, so you can let go of what doesn't."   That applies not only to physical items, but to all areas, including health and diet, work, hobbies, relationships, goals, technology, etc.  There are no rules or requirements, but rather a challenge to be intentional about what you will emphasize in your life, and

An Exciting Announcement

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Photo by Michael Wagner/Unsplash Dear Reader, Minimalism is about living consciously and with only the things that add value to your life.  It focuses less on material possessions and more on relationships and experiences.  As Joshua Becker, creator of becomingminimalist.com , has wisely said, "Excess possessions do not increase happiness -- they distract us from the things that do!" As an aspiring minimalist, this doesn't mean you have to give up all of your belongings.  It does mean that you don't put much stock in the idea that what you own will fulfill you. We all need food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care and other essentials.  But we're constantly bombarded by advertisers who want us to buy more than we need, because buying more is what keeps our culture humming along.  Unfortunately, buying more also keeps us in bondage to busyness, debt, dissatisfaction, waste, and environmental destruction. But minimalists know that joy doesn

Zero Waste Challenge

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Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash Don't you hate walking through a park and seeing garbage on the ground?  Or garbage tossed along the highway?  Is there anything uglier? Well actually, yes there is.  The plastic soup that infiltrates gigantic areas of our oceans, chokes marine life, and allows toxins to enter the food chain is a problem on par with global warming. Both manufacturing and waste disposal put a strain on the environment.  Even recycling uses resources and causes pollution, but alarmingly, the vast majority of plastic is never recycled .  Much of it enters our waterways.  It may be used for only a few hours (or a few minutes!), but it takes hundreds of years to decompose. One way to begin to address this problem is simply to reduce waste.  Obviously, this change isn't made overnight.  It's a goal we can work toward, and minimalism can help. A minimalist is mindful about purchases. Minimalists already know that we don't actually need every

You Are Enough

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Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash One of the ways that advertisers keep us buying is by creating the feeling that we could be the people we want to be if only we had a new car, a better phone, more stylish clothing, a sexier perfume, or an exotic vacation.  We are constantly encouraged to look for change and improvement outside ourselves. We want to believe that our next purchase will solve our problems.  And it's so much easier to swipe a card or click-to-ship than it is to do the hard work of changing ourselves.  I know this first hand, because I keep losing the same 30 pounds over and over again. But you can't buy change. Change only happens when you figure out the motivations and habits that got you where you are, and create new beliefs and practices that get you where you want to go.  This is the only way to achieve change.  It can't be found in a store. How many purchases have we made hoping they would make all the difference? Cookbooks and diet p

X-Ray Vision Helps Clear Hidden Clutter

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Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash We're finite creatures.  We have only so much time, money, space, and energy. But our modern consumer society offers a dizzying array of merchandise.  This can have several possible effects: The constant influx of new products catches our attention and makes us greedy, and so we buy more than we need. Endless sales and clearances make everything look like a "bargain," and so we buy more than we need. The difficulty of making the "perfect" choice can be overwhelming, even paralyzing.  We're unsure, and so we buy more than we need. We can't locate something essential among the clutter of past purchases, so even though we own three such items, we buy more than we need. The load of unused items becomes a physical weight, and may cause guilt or regret.  We try to hide it away in boxes, bins, drawers, closets, basements, attics, and under the bed, but it's all still there, nagging at us. Feng Shui p

Wear a Capsule Wardrobe

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I'm sure you've seen Pinterest photos of beautifully curated closets and capsule wardrobes.  Maybe you long for one yourself, but think it's impossible or too restrictive. It's a modern consumer belief that we need a huge wardrobe to be "interesting."  Of course you want to be appropriately dressed, and why not wear attractive clothes that flatter your body type and coloring?  But none of that demands a huge quantity of clothing.  Limits encourage creativity, and a smaller closet isn't necessarily boring. In the 1940s the average person owned 36 items of clothing.  Today the average consumer has 120 items, with 80% going unworn .  This tells me several things: 20% of what's in the average closet (that's 24 pieces of clothing) may be an adequate wardrobe. We hang on to clothes that haven't fit in years and (if we're honest) will never fit again.  Even if we could wear them, they'd be out of style.  These clothes mock us and w

Voluntary Simplicity

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Photo by Brian Mann on Unsplash This is my 100th post! A common misconception about minimalism is that if you have or earn very little you must be a minimalist.  In fact, as you've progressed in your minimalist journey, some well-meaning acquaintances may have asked if you were having financial difficulties, since that's the only reason they can imagine that you would choose to own and buy less. But minimalism isn't about trying to get by with as little as possible (though you might explore those limits as an interesting experiment).  It's not about being cheap, and it's not meant to glorify or romanticize real poverty. Study after study shows that the rich people of the world (and if we have more than we need, that definitely includes us ) are not as happy as one might expect, given their level of comfort and opportunity. A life of materialism can create feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.  It consumes huge quantities of natural reso