How to Think Like a Minimalist
The Scottish-American naturalist John Muir is famous for heading into the wilderness with almost no provisions: "I rolled up some bread and tea in a pair of blankets with some sugar and a tin cup and set off." Ready to go in literally one minute, Muir's choices are extremely Spartan even for most minimalists!
Then there's the other extreme, which you can see quite easily on a walk through any campground. It's the same overload that exists within city limits:
- excess shelter
- excess gear
- excess media
- excess food
- excess sitting
Minimalism starts in your mind.
It reminds me once again that minimalism is not just about the number of things you own. Minimalism is an attitude, a state of mind. And that mindset goes where you go, in town or out to the beach or up to Yosemite – or even to Paris or on a cruise to Mexico.
When I returned from camping in the past, my attitude was usually "I'm so glad for all of these comforts. I really missed them!"
But what if I thought instead, "I've lived without these things for several days. Do I really need all of them?"
That's a different way of thinking which might lead to some changes.
- But maybe we don't need so much TV or computer time.
- Maybe we can live without constantly checking social media.
- Maybe we don't need to be such foodies.
- Maybe we don't need every luxury.
- Maybe our kids could do with fewer "educational" toys and video games and more practical experiences such as learning to help cook, clean, grow things, fix things, etc.
And maybe we'd all benefit from a lot more time spent in nature.
Weigh the benefits.
That initial gratitude we feel for the comforts of home is important. It's a much better reaction than taking them for granted or going back to not noticing or appreciating them.
But it's also good to reassess all we own in light of how much benefit it's bringing. Maybe the seldom-used hobby tools, multiple sets of dishes and glassware, crowded closets, piles of toys, various collections, or all of the tech gadgets and apps aren't adding quite as much to life as we thought. Maybe more space and more time would be more valuable.
Now that would be thinking like a minimalist.
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