I tend to spend a lot of my time in an office or in a car on my way there. The evidence is clear, sometimes getting away from it all can do the mind and body wonders. This makes definite sense when I partner it with my new found interest, minimalism. Whether it’s the fresh air, being away from technology, or going somewhere and getting lost is a tonic for the pace of day to day life. Days out like this feel simple. More straightforward. Clean.
When you’re out in the elements, in the crisp air with nothing but the natural beauty to absorb, you start to see things from a different perspective. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about minimalism and that’s mainly down to the work of the Minimalists, Ryan and Joshua, and their blog, podcast, Netflix documentary and book called Everything that remains. I’d recommend it by the way. I’ve consumed it all and The Minimalists have got me thinking about one specific thing – why do we spend so much of our lives consuming stuff and things and why do we place so much value on it? Especially when there’s so much beauty out there in the world to consume in a less materialist way.
The Minimalists do a lot to provide some answers to that, but when you get away from the normal world we live in and you’re in the middle of nowhere, with no phone reception and a backpack full of supplies, you realise that you’re still breathing. You’re still alive and technology’s broken shackles give you a feeling of freedom. This isn’t to say I am anti-technology. I’m all over it, but I have started consuming my technology in a more considered fashion – on my terms. I think that’s what minimalism is teaching me anyway.
A spring clean for the body and mind
Since the dawn of time, we Brits have always enjoyed a spring clean. Why when the nights get longer and the deciduous plants start unfurling after their winter break do we feel it necessary to have a good sort out and get rid of some of that pointless stuff? Well, it’s a thing, but why don’t we do it all the time? If we take the opportunity to think about a purchase before we make it or make a decision to get rid of all the pointless accoutrements we drape all over our houses that life could be simpler, less stressful and ultimately better.
Going out for the day, keeping the phone hidden away in the backpack and getting away from it all can have an effect in many areas of our lives. What I enjoy about getting away from it all is realising that us humans are pretty robust creatures and we don’t actually need an awful lot to keep us alive. So why do we spend most of our lives acquiring things? It’s a weird concept, isn’t it? Buying stuff, collecting stuff and ultimately making our lives heavier. If you take a moment to look at all the things you own, we use hardly any of them. I wear the same clothes on a weekly basis, the same trainers, shoes and use the same things around the house – ultimately I have no need for anything more.
After reading, watching and listening to the Minimalists, one quote stuck out. I am about to share it with you. It’s the kind of guy I am. Here’s what Joshua Fields Milburn had to say:
Now, before I spend money I ask myself one question: Is this worth my freedom? Like: Is this coffee worth two dollars of my freedom? Is this shirt worth thirty dollars of my freedom? Is this car worth thirty thousand dollars of my freedom? In other words, am I going to get more value from the thing I’m about to purchase, or am I going to get more value from my freedom?
Based on what I’ve learnt so far on minimalism, I’ve now decided to be more considered when it comes to making purchases. To begin my journey, I now ask myself three questions:
- How much do I really need this item?
- Is it going to add value to my life?
- Can I spend this money better elsewhere (like investing it)?
The thing is, I am more stern with myself today. I’ll only make a purchase if I can justify and answer all three questions in a positive way. And then if I decide to buy something I’ll look to get rid of something else that I already have. An eye for an eye and all that jazz.
I’ve taken the long way around here. Starting off on a weekend trip to the peaks and ending up describing how I now acquire new things but it struck me when I spent the day with great company, awesome scenery and little else. It allowed my mind to think and analyse some of the mistakes I have tended to make in the past and how I can look to make more solid decisions in future.
If I truly want something then there’s absolutely no reason I shouldn’t purchase it. Minimalism isn’t deprivation. The feeling here is to be more considered. If I want a new top or sweater pay a little more for better quality that you’ll feel happier wearing and which will last a little longer. I’ve always been a firm believer in quality over quantity. Now I have the opportunity to roll it out in other areas of my life.