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Minimalism, and the minimalist lifestyle


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I've noticed a couple of people scattered throughout this forum mention minimalism and the minimalist lifestyle in passing, for various reasons.  Sometimes because of an upcoming move, or sometimes from a desire to slim down the amount of chaos material stuff tends to bring into their lives.

 

I've flirted with the idea quite often - often from necessity, and most recently from an expected move.  It took the looming threat of a move to realize that, push come to shove, I could load a backpack and be gone, but holy carp - where did all this stuff come from?  To that end, I wanted to start a thread and share some references for others who want to do some reading, do some research, or just stick a toe into the philosophical waters and see how it feels.

 

There is a fair amount of similarity to Buddhism in regard to viewing how possessions influence our lives and our happiness.  I mention that out of a sense of full disclosure, but one need not adopt Buddhism or Zen philosophy to appreciate the tenets presented in the minimalist lifestyle.  Certain principles like: if you haven't worn it in a year, why is it in your closet?  That's a tough one to answer objectively.  Emotionally, there are a variety of answers to be had - some good, some not so much.

 

The flip side of minimalism, which is one possible goal - is understanding how and why we got here.  That is an entirely separate post, but speaking for myself, I find impulse shopping as a means of staying entertained at work to be a major contributor, followed closely by "wow, that's a really good deal!" syndrome, and "huh, I bet that would be really useful and it's on sale!" disorder.  I mention this only because while minimalism may be the answer to some problems in your life (most notably, too much stuff), it is exceedingly helpful to understand how and why we ended up where we are now.

 

All that said: of this list - there are many books, but I'm only listing the two I have read, or am reading, and recommend them:

 

Books:

Spoiler

"Hand wash cold: care instructions for an ordinary life" by Karen Miller (this is more Zen/Buddhism, but speaks to minimalism as well)

 

"Do less: a minimalist guide to a simplified, organized, and happy life" by Rachel Jonat (a blogger, found here: http://www.theminimalistmom.com/)

 

"Repacking your bags: Lighten your load for the good life" by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro

*This is a "life coaching" book that uses the metaphor of packing, un-packing, and re-packing as a means of dealing with emotional baggage and changing our perspective on life.  Approaches minimalism from a sideways angle; addresses issues of happiness and purpose in life as it relates to our accumulation of stuff as an attempt to buy into the illusion of happiness.  Verdict: I enjoyed the book, but it might be too top-heavy for anyone looking for concrete examples and how-to tips.

 

E-Book: [http://www.rowdykittens.com/2010/03/free-ebook-minimalist-health/]TheSimple Guide to a Minimalist Life

 

"You can buy happiness (and it's cheap!)" by Tammy Strobel.  She also has a blog: Rowdy Kittens.
*I checked this out from the library and I really liked it.  I like it enough to add it to my collection for later reference.  A lot of the content is similar to other minimalist books, which I think speaks more of the commonalities people experience rather than duplication of material.  But I also like her writing style more - it feels like you're along for the ride as she sorts through her life and experiences her epiphanies.
 
*Overall, definitely a softer touch and more than a couple examples spoke to me personally - particularly the section on the concept of loss and one reason why we're so reluctant to part with something we're not using and will likely never use.  "Throwing good money after bad", in a nutshell.

 

Websites, blogs, oh my:

These are websites I've found from idle Googling (wow, it's a verb), as well as referrals from other sites, authors, links, and so on.  I haven't vetted them and as such, some may be more helpful than others - although what may be helpful for me, may not be so for you.  And vice versa.
Spoiler

http://www.theminimalists.com/

 

http://bemorewithless.com/the-downside-of-minimalism/

 

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/seeking-simplicity-how-to-start-living-a-more-minimal-lifestyle-210936

 

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/top-8-benefits-living-minimalist-lifestyle.html

 

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/10-reasons-why-minimalism-is-growing-a-k-a-10-reasons-you-should-adopt-the-lifestyle/

 

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/minimalism-benefits/

 

http://mnmlist.com/minimalist-faqs/

 

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/effective-minimalist-daily-life/

 

http://www.missminimalist.com/category/real-life-minimalists/

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/living-with-less/374544/

 

http://www.designsponge.com/2014/11/living-the-new-minimalism-lifestyle-in-340-square-feet.html

 

http://lifehacker.com/5991832/declutter-in-your-life-and-embrace-minimalism-this-weekend

 

http://www.wittytitlehere.com/2013/03/life-without-stuff-choosing-a-minimalist-lifestyle/

 

http://zenhabits.net/aday/

 

http://minimalismissimple.com/start-here

 

http://opulentminimalistlifestyle.com/

 

http://www.theminimalistmom.com/

 

http://deepexistence.com/the-significant-minimalist-lifestyle-benefit-you-never-hear-about-having-fewer-choices/

 

http://theminimalistpath.com/home/

 

http://www.collegian.com/2014/10/the-minimalist-lifestyle-saving-money-and-having-peace-of-mind/98039/

 

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140224-the-joy-of-minimalist-living

 

http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/minimalism-lifestyle.html

 

http://minimalistlifestyle.wordpress.com/

 

http://www.thenonconformingprofessional.com/minimalist-lifestyle.html

 

http://www.minimalistgeneration.com/

 

http://www.minimalstudent.com/zen-and-the-art-of-minimalism-part-1-zen-philosophy/

 

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140224-the-joy-of-minimalist-living

 

Articles of Interest

 
Minimalist, "one bag" traveling
Forums:
 
Cleaning, Organizing, and other costs of stuff:
-some cussing involved, you have been warned.
 

 

EtA: True to form, I had an idea and I scrambled to get it out there without taking time to revise it, or critique it for improvement.  As time passes and more ideas occur to me, I will be changing the first post to reflect a better presentation and delivery format, rather than just throwing out an entire mass of information from a fire hose.  Hence, the addition of spoiler tags to help pare down (in the minimalism thread, natch) the amount of material you're being doused with.
 
EtA: And I may be abusing the hell out of spoiler tags.  Sorry.
 
Spoiler
Spoiler
Spoiler
-some cussing involved, you have been warned.
Spoiler
Spoiler
 
Spoiler
 
Spoiler
Spoiler

 

Spoiler
 
 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 7
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Been attempting to become more minimalistic, but I feel like anytime I get rid of lot of stuff, more stuff takes its place. Sometimes want to scream over it

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I don't want to be minimalist, but I do want to own less. Some of this will be interesting to read, and I'm sure will help me in that goal.

I have problems with emotional attachment to things. A shirt from a race, wooden spoons that were part of the last Christmas present my uncle ever gave me. Things like that.

For quite a while, i was afraid to get rid of things that were from my mom. In the past, it would've hurt her feelings. I finally mentioned this to her, because she said she was trying to get rid of things as well. She gave me full reign to throw out anything from her. :)

  • Like 2
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I have problems with emotional attachment to things. A shirt from a race, wooden spoons that were part of the last Christmas present my uncle ever gave me. Things like that.

 

Make an "emotional" wall? Pick the objects that you really should throw out, but can't, and turn them into framed art. They then become that much more visible, become part of the art and soul of your home, but gets them out of drawers/cupboards where they don't belong. For some things, perhaps having a photograph of the object will be enough to keep the memory alive

 

And sometimes it means putting things in a box, saying, "Okay, I'm not ready to throw this out yet, but next year I'll go through it again." Of course, then next year you have to actually do it again! 

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It's only fair, since I started this topic, that I should be willing to share more as well.  Which is not easy, nor pleasant, so I trust you'll bear with me.

 

My mom was a hoarder.  At the time, I didn't know that there was a term for it - but looking back, it's easy to identify.  And I'm reading an article about hoarding, which has been eye-opening in a number of ways.  I'm not necessarily concerned about being a hoarder, although like many folks, in the face of an impending move, I have been forced to face a reality of "holy carp, how did I acquire this much stuff?  When did I last wear that t-shirt?  And why did I need four different spatulas again?"  Reading through the excerpt, there are some points that I can't relate to, and others that hit way too close to home for comfort.  (If anyone's interested: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126386317)

 

The minimalist lifestyle is like any other life change - if you don't understand what led you to the point you felt you needed a change, you're doomed to repeat your past mistakes.  That's true of eating, of exercising, of relationships - whatever.  Which is a big part of what prompted me to do a fair amount of reading on the topic, and related subjects.

  • Like 1
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I love having less.  Our house is decorated nice but it's spartan - it's funny, sometimes we'll visit other people's homes and there's just stuff EVERYWHERE, on the walls, shelves, bookcases, stacks of DVDs and knick knacks.  I always wonder when people visit our house what they think, haha!

 

Too much clutter makes me crabby anyways so for me it's great to have lots of open space and not many possessions to worry about.  And as much as I love gift-giving holidays I always sort of cringe because I really want my gifts to be -practical- and not just something given for the sake of giving that will end up in a closet somewhere.

 

I think I'm part nomad or something too, the idea of always moving around really appeals to me so maybe that has something to do with it. <3

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Level 50 Bardic Time-Mage; of the Furious Heart

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"Well...in the end, it boils down to two simple choices. Either you do or you don't.

You'd think with all the problems in this world, there'd be more answers. It's not fair...
...But that's the way things are. The choice is yours."

»  kom starkru

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The, ah, culling requires either a very determined mind, or a very serene one.  

 

If you skim blogs and websites (etc) about cleaning and organizing, you'll see the same tips repeated, for example: have you used it in a year?  If yes, keep it.  If no, are you keeping it for an explicit, well-defined and articulate reason?  (i.e. "Uncle Will's birthday tomorrow" instead of "oh, it was a good deal and I hate to waste it")  If yes, keep it.  If no, it goes.

 

The process is, admittedly, easier with old things you don't wear that you've kept around out of habit, or simply because you've never made a deliberate effort to remove (in this case clothes) that you've never worn, or only worn once and haven't since in years.

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Had bit of a small fit in the kitchen. There's so many damn useless crap in there. Why does my mom keep buying all this junk? We literally have bunch of dull knives and scissors (and it keeps growing). Either sharpen them or get rid of them. And stop buying more. Also, there is decorates on our stove top again, which almost burnt our kitchen down last time.

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“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.†

~Paulo Coelho

 

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My mom bought an automatic bread maker.  Take a guess how often she actually used it.

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My mom bought an automatic bread maker.  Take a guess how often she actually used it.

-9000 times?

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“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.†

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I'm a level 3 moon elf, who's an druid assassin.

 

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My mother used to give my sister and I a set amount of time to clean our rooms when we were younger (usually a day or so) and, being children, we rarely accomplished the task fully. It was her practice to then confiscate everything that was still lying out and out of place in plastic trash bags; she always told us she was throwing them away, but in reality she would store them in the attic. A year or so later, she would bring the bags down and ask us to take the 5 items we had missed the most, and then we would go to the local shelter or Goodwill and donate the rest. The older I was, the harder it was for me to pick even a couple of items from those bags: I think I was 10 the first time I realized I didn't care about any of those things. I remember she [my mother] pointed out that part of the reason I no longer cared for anything in the bag was because it hadn't meant that much to me to begin with - and that was why it hadn't been put away. It literally didn't have a place in my life, hence, it had no designated place in my room.

 

I've remembered that lesson my whole life. If I realize that something has been hanging about on the counter or table or drawer for several weeks, I know it's most likely because I don't think it's that important to me. Just because it's in my house doesn't mean it's part of my home.

  • Like 17

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When my three children and I moved in March, I gave each of them a foot locker and a three foot hanging bar. That was it; if they couldn't make it fit in that space it was donated. I was just as hard on myself: I donated almost all of our physical library (3000 books and several hundred DVDs), and the stuff went to friends and the local shelter.

I took maybe one-tenth of the furniture.

It has been the best thing we ever did, and we refer to it as the Making Room For Joy chapter of our lives.

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I was homeless for a while and I very quickly took up a minimal lifestyle. It was liberating.

 

How did you feel when you became not-homeless?  Did you maintain the minimal lifestyle?  Or shift back?

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It has been the best thing we ever did, and we refer to it as the Making Room For Joy chapter of our lives.

 

I love this!

 

I find that the less stuff I have, the happier and more liberated I feel... so you're right, it really is making room for joy!  (And AWESOMENESS!!) :)

i am not waiting for a hero.  i saved myself long ago.

Level 50 Bardic Time-Mage; of the Furious Heart

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"Well...in the end, it boils down to two simple choices. Either you do or you don't.

You'd think with all the problems in this world, there'd be more answers. It's not fair...
...But that's the way things are. The choice is yours."

»  kom starkru

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I love the idea of minimalism and living a simple life; I'm very Taoist at heart. I guess the reason that I don't really like getting rid of my stuff is because I feel guilty about all the money that I spent on these things, just to throw them away.

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"Hush your fears, my boy," I said, " we will get across safe, though it is not going to be easy. No right way is easy in this rough world. We must risk our lives to save them." ~ John Muir
 

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I love the idea of minimalism and living a simple life; I'm very Taoist at heart. I guess the reason that I don't really like getting rid of my stuff is because I feel guilty about all the money that I spent on these things, just to throw them away.

 

The minimalist response to that is: the money is spent and gone.  Now you're paying intangible, soft costs of keeping stuff - particularly stuff you don't use.  It takes up space, it takes energy to clean and organize, and it creates stress.

 

In essence, you're still spending on these items you don't use, sometimes don't even want.  

 

It took me a while to grok that, and it's still difficult to throw out a perfectly good t-shirt.  That I haven't worn in at least three years and is a size too small.  Rationally, it makes no sense to keep it, but emotionally, it's hard to just (ahem) let it go.  The happy compromise for me is to donate the stuff - whether to a charity or put it in a box for the local homeless to sift through.

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There are two adults and two kids in our 600sqft cabin, and looking at just the cabin we live very, very minimally. But we also live on a farm, cut and split our own firewood, garden, and preserve a lot of our produce, so we ended up with pressure canners (and 1000 mason jars), dehydrator, meat grinder, etc. etc. etc.

So not only do we have everything from goat hoof trimmers to spare rakes... we have all of our summer clothing stored in 55g barrels in the back of the barn, the kids beach toys are in the hay loft, the dehumidifier is in a garbage bag next to the chicken coop... you get the idea.

We are also on a fairly low budget so we buy in bulk when and if it means saving money.

I love the idea of living minimally, and having backpacked and lived frugally quite a bit in the past I largely know what it entails. But those days are over for me... for now ;)

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The minimalist response to that is: the money is spent and gone.  Now you're paying intangible, soft costs of keeping stuff - particularly stuff you don't use.  It takes up space, it takes energy to clean and organize, and it creates stress.

 

 

This is something I struggle with a lot, too - I spent hard earned money on this, so now it's mine, and I need to get use out of it...

 

But you're right, the money is gone, and if said item isn't serving me (and if I'm not serving it by using it), it's better off donated to someone who will get use out of it.

 

Great way to look at things, I'll have to remember this. ^_^

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i am not waiting for a hero.  i saved myself long ago.

Level 50 Bardic Time-Mage; of the Furious Heart

STR.55  DEX.43 STA.48 CON.51 WIS.53 CHA.65

"Well...in the end, it boils down to two simple choices. Either you do or you don't.

You'd think with all the problems in this world, there'd be more answers. It's not fair...
...But that's the way things are. The choice is yours."

»  kom starkru

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I tend to equate "living minimally" with "living efficiently" - cutting out pointless, useless waste for stuff that serves no purpose.

 

Based on that definition, it sounds like you guys are pretty much on target.

 

I will grant, not everyone agrees with my definition of minimal living, but I also think an extreme version of minimalism is less about practicality and more about making a statement.

  • Like 3
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The minimalist response to that is: the money is spent and gone.  Now you're paying intangible, soft costs of keeping stuff - particularly stuff you don't use.  It takes up space, it takes energy to clean and organize, and it creates stress.

 

In essence, you're still spending on these items you don't use, sometimes don't even want.  

 

It took me a while to grok that, and it's still difficult to throw out a perfectly good t-shirt.  That I haven't worn in at least three years and is a size too small.  Rationally, it makes no sense to keep it, but emotionally, it's hard to just (ahem) let it go.  The happy compromise for me is to donate the stuff - whether to a charity or put it in a box for the local homeless to sift through.

 

This really does help. The money is gone, and even if I keep it the money won't come back. Depending on the amount that I use the item I can also look at it as a bad investment :P

Next time I go through my stuff I will keep this in mind (especially clothes).

 

Maybe I said this already (I apologize if I did) but one of the things that I want to do at some point is to challenge myself to not buy new clothes for a year, or just anything new in general for a year. I think that this is an interesting experiment :P

  • Like 2

"Hush your fears, my boy," I said, " we will get across safe, though it is not going to be easy. No right way is easy in this rough world. We must risk our lives to save them." ~ John Muir
 

Miles to Mount Doom (completed so far):

33.45%
33.45%

1745.55 miles to go...

 

 

Challenge: 1,2,3,4, Current Challenge

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This really does help. The money is gone, and even if I keep it the money won't come back. Depending on the amount that I use the item I can also look at it as a bad investment :tongue:

Next time I go through my stuff I will keep this in mind (especially clothes).

 

Maybe I said this already (I apologize if I did) but one of the things that I want to do at some point is to challenge myself to not buy new clothes for a year, or just anything new in general for a year. I think that this is an interesting experiment :tongue:

There's always clothes swap websites if you get bored of your wardrobe

  • Like 1

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.†

~Paulo Coelho

 

I'm a level 3 moon elf, who's an druid assassin.

 

My Inspiration

Tumblr, which helps me stay the course for art challenge

FB, which I guess we could be friend :tongue:

My challenge

Instagram

 

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