The definition of minimalism may not be the same for everyone, but to me it means affording me more time to spend on things I really like to do and set me on a path of intentional living. This mindset help me filter out the noise from distractions that hold no value to my life or well-being, as it puts a burden on me as I continue my pursuit for a stress free life.
As I get older and I start to learn more about the trials of life, my priorities shift to away from things that hold no value to me. I've started to live my life with an intentional purpose because "going with the flow", which is the term most people use to describe killing time, started to sound like "I don't know what I want to do.
Living with intention afford me to have less distractions in my life, therefore paving a path for me to spend my time and energy on more important things. These obstacles of distraction became easier to overcome, like a track runner looking at a hurdle and thinking, "why is this even here?"
Obstacles become a pause rather than a complete stop. Obstacles that can now be picked up and tossed to the side because I can.
A minimalist lifestyle doesn't come easy for most people, but years ago, I've started to incorporate simple things into my daily life that freed up my mind and created more time for me to do other things. This in effect, created a new enlightenment for me as I've started to see the use of time in a new light.
Time is a currency of life.
Time is what you spend to bring you happiness, health, and growth. People need to treat time as a type of currency because once you spend it, you can never get it back. There are no refunds for the time you've spent with your short life on earth.
How did I get started on this path of minimalism? Here are a few small, insignificant things that have changed my life in a big way.
- Turn off all notifications on your phone. The only notification I get now are text messages, work emails and important personal email (using the "Focused" inbox in the Microsoft Outlook app for iOS). The person who texts me the most is my girlfriend, so I’d like to ensure that I’m available for her. As for news and social media— I've turned those off completely, as well as their background refresh. By doing this, you remove the distractions that constantly require you attention and remove your need to check your phone. If you don't get a notification about things you care about, then it's not important. It can wait. This will also save a lot of battery life, which in turn can extend the life of the phone during the day, therefore removing the anxiety of the need to charge your phone.
- Delete social media. In the year 2018, social media and its distractions have taken the lives (not literally, but figuratively) of millions of people. This has gotten so bad, that Apple's new update for iOS 12 will now feature a app timer to show the user how much time they're spending on an app. You might think that checking Instagram or Facebook every 10 minutes for 2 minutes at a time is not a big deal, but if you do the math...that's 4.8 Hours a day (in a 24 hour period) that you're spending on stalking other people. I don't know about most people, but I have better things to do with my 4.8 hours. Things like typing up this blog post while I'm giving my brain a break from grad school papers, finishing up that work project so that you have one less thing to worry about, and thinking of new ideas on trip you want to take. There are endless things you could be doing than stalking other people. This addiction is real and it's making people dumber because of it.
- Eat simple. Eat healthy. It may not be very exciting, but my go-to meals are generally easy to prepare, to put together, nutritious, and filling. When it comes to eating healthy, my general philosophy is to eat relatively healthy and organic meals and then indulge in junk food every once in awhile. One of my favorite and proven ways of keeping things simple is through a meal subscription service like Blue Apron. By keeping things simple, I don't need to drive to the grocery store, deal with lines, and finding the best organic foods when Blue Apron does it for me. The meals are different every week, they have guest celebrity chefs prep the ingredients for their favorite meals, while also supporting local farms. This is ok in my book. Some people will say that going out and shopping for food is part of the experience of cooking the food. I agree to an extent, but there is an allure of not having to go out every weekend and dealing with the cesspool of people.
- Simplify your friends. This may seem like the most challenging for most people (or not, personally I never had this issue), but dropping people out of your life that bring no value to you simplifies your obligations in your life. No more birthday parties for someone you really don't talk to, but you have to spend your money and evening for that person. You want to be surrounded by people that are smarter, stronger, and and healthier than you as these people can act as a catalyst for you to become a better person of yourself as well. Those "orbiters" that you keep at arms reach are just floaters that you keep around when you need a drinking buddy. These people should not be a priority to you over the things that are most important to you, such as family, work, school and your health. Like I said, time is a currency that you can never get back. Treat spending time with people as an investment, where you get what you put in.
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle is a personal journey and there is more to it than owning less stuff.
You see, I always thought of minimalism as a shift in mindset. Silencing the noise of an increasingly loud world. Cleaning up the clutter that my brain absorbs everyday. Giving myself permission to slow down and take a breath.
By simplifying my life, I'm also reducing the number of decisions I make, avoiding consumption as a substitute for happiness. Therefore, I’m able to focus more on the things that truly matter. Since this shift, I am happier, calmer, have more patience for people, and feel more free.