minimalism | mindwi.se edit

Owning less, Thinking about it, Materialism, Go without, Backpack, Don't want list, Only essentials, Emptyness, Rat race, Undream, Free, 10 recommendations, Questions, How to focus, Perspectives, Lost time, Back to basic, Mission, Observe and adjust, Let it go, Declutter, Wanting things

What is on my keychain, Content of my wallet, What I carry in my pockets

Minimalist flow chart
Will this item provide value?
Yes: Keep it
No: Get rid of it

For me, minimalism is not a cult or a trendy tag, not a passage in a cycle of my life or a way to express a fake image to others. It is literally what guides my short-term actions to fit my long-term values. It is way more than just decluttering your stuff, it is a tool to think clearly and meaningfully to counter consumerism and mindless living.

You don't have to buy anything to become minimalist. Just let it go first and make space for the most important things in your life.

I used to blog on a somewhat regular basis, about the same stuff over and over again. One day, I decided to trash the blog and start a big notepad instead. Thus, mindwi.se isn't ordered by date anymore, it is the reflection of my humble wisdom by topic instead.

Internet has really interesting stuff all over the place. I got introduced to minimalism in 2014 by Leo Babauta (his story) and then discovered Joshua Becker (more precisely the article titled Minimalism: Addition not Subtraction).

Trying to escape a lifestyle that was designed for me, I did way too many trials and errors. Like almost everybody, I started to declutter my closets, then pretend I was happier, then I spent good money for solutions of problems that were not even a problem. Learned the hard way that the solution is the problem. It helped me focus on what is truly important in life: time and health.


Owning less

After reading an excellent article from Ronald L. Banks titled 10 Problems Solved By Owning Less Stuff, all I want to do now is to simplify, simplify, simplify.

Why do we accumulate so much stuff in the first place? We will never have everything, so why bother about finding the perfect things and try to collect them all?

I probably won't be able to live from a backpack since we have a child, but I want to be close as much as I can. Or two backpacks. In fact, even three would be quite awesome.

Inspired by the barefoot philosophy, I’m trying now to reorientate my goals in life in a way I can let go of even more stuff, not only physically, but mentally. I need space, a big void, not to be filled, but to contemplate. I need no obligations, no commitments, no payments, no excessive possessions, just the bare minimum so I can feel… well… naked.

For the physical objects... Why would I need more than a defined list of possession to live fully? Why do we constantly need to improve ourselves by buying something, trying something new?

Same for the time consumed... Why would I need more than a defined list of hobbies and activities to live fully? Why do we constantly need to add new ones?

When we own less stuff we have more time for other things. Less time spent on cleaning, organizing, managing, maintaining, looking for storage solution, fixing, repairing, replacing. And obviously, less time working just to make the money that we can take to go shopping to buy the stuff to bring home to clean, to organize, to manage, to maintain, to replace. -Joshua Becker

I need to state clearly what I want in life, how I want it, what do I own and stick to the plan.

What do I want?

How do I want it?

What do I own?


Thinking about it

I have always had a tendency towards simplicity, environmental concern and the spirit of respect for what is not belonging to us. Having read the book Less Is more (from Cecile Andrews and Wanda Urbanska), a collection of texts of multiple authors on simplicity, the more I read, the more I remember my progress so far.

Thinking about it, very early, I had a trend towards simplicity:

Thinking about it, very young, the environmental concern was part of my vision:

It seems to me that the idealized world when you are young turning into a world of convenience focused on making it easier for short or long term impacts.


Materialism

Being a minimalism equals releasing the full potential of each object instead of hoarding them without any use. No longer I buy stuff just for the social status or as a reward. For me, a bicycle per example is super valuable because I can't see myself living without one. I cherish it big time. And it feels good to be materialist in the real sense of the word.


Go without

When is the last time you went without something? By that, I mean, instead of buying something to fix a need/want/problem, you decided to avoid acquiring a new object in your life.

Reason I ask is because we have this obsession in our modern-ish society to fix problems by throwing money at it, adding an extra layer of complexity, adding physical possessions, digital subscriptions, creating real pollution, fake solution.

Like previously stated by many, The Solution is the Problem. Go without. Find a better way to live.

Because of that, I am not trying in any way to give advices to anyone with my blog, just trying to reflect my thoughts and emotions.


Backpack

Because of the usefulness to carry stuff on your back, it is probably one of the best invention ever. In fact, pack light is now part of my lifestyle.

Current setup

  1. a daypack: Black Diamond Bbee 11L (red), 360g, $55.
  2. a traveling pack: MEC Travel Light Carry On 38L (blue), 591g, $40.
  3. a bike handlebar bag: Porcelain Rocket Nigel 4L, 250g, $70.
  4. a bike saddle bag: Giant Scout 9L, about 400g, $85

Total of 62L, 1.6Kg and $250. That's it.

I needed a simple setup, light and not focused on a fantasy self of a professional overnight hiker (if I ever need one, I can borrow or rent one). I will use the daypack while biking to work, hiking or strolling around with the family. No need to carry more than what it fits.

Every day carry (EDC)

With a capacity of only 11L in the daypack, how can I achieve to do it all? The key is to plan in advance and reduce everywhere.

Total weight is about 3 Kg including the backpack. After that, I can either add a 2L water tank (+2 Kg), a laptop for work (+1.5 Kg) or my own laptop (+1.3 Kg). Any how, the total weight does not generally exceed 4.5 Kg (10 lbs).

Water bottle can go on the bike if you bike to work or kept outside the pack if you walk/drive. Merino wool socks on me so I don't need an extra pair.

It is actually quite easy to commute with a small backpack like the Bbee 11. You just have to be mindful of what you carry around and stop hoarding like a pack rat. You don't need much in 8-10 hours of your day.

Also, one thing I also considered is the weight and size of the packs while not in use. The Bbee can be rolled away easily. The MEC Travel Light can be stored in its own stuff sack, while having a dedicated compartment to hold a 15in. laptop.


Don't want list

Contentment is part of my long-term values. Inspired by this article, I wanted to create my own don't want list.

Here is a list of stupid expenses I want not to be part of my life at any point:

It is like decluttering before decluttering is required. By avoiding stuff to reach me in the first place, not only I save money, but I save time of my life to manage and get rid of them.


Only essentials

As I was listening to the podcast episode Finding Meaning (from The Minimalists), the interview with Jamie Wheal really resounded on me. The discussion turned on individualism, the fact that human is a prediction engine, to avoid pain, to seek pleasure, self-centered, selfish, nihilist.

Then, the book The Attention Merchants (by Tim Wu) comes in play when they discussed about hedonic treadmill.

The fact that all the ideas like "thoughts become things" or "I shape my reality" is you get the unholy marriage of Eastern Vedanta [...] we change our mind and the reality changes [...] coupled with "I'm a well-conditioned, programmed consumer, rationalist individual and I've been raised to believe it's all about me and I can grow up to be a national president and I deserve best life, big house, nice car" [...] and you merge those two and you end up with that toxic stew of bourgeois narcissism.
-Jamie Wheal

This is probably the best summary of today's look-at-me-at-all-cost social mentality. And all that for what? Just for the fact that we want to show our superiority on others.

Each day, I try to be modest, respectful to others and make decisions based on rationality instead of emotions. Only essentials should remain.

A good blog post from Paul Graham: Stuff


Emptyness

Because I like a clear view on my life, I tend to keep everything in order, as simple as it could get. Email inbox is empty after each day. Clothes are back in the same drawer. Keys, wallet, earphones are all in the top pocket of my backpack. Every thing I don't use is sold. Receipts are digitized. Water bottle is filled and refrigerated, ready to use.

Opportunities are most of the time turned down, rather preferring to focus and go deeper by enjoying emptyness around my main priority.

It is not because I can do something that I have to do it. If I have enough savings to buy a yatch, why would I? All endeavours in life are not to be fulfilled. To those whom say "Leave no stone unturned", I would suggest the exact opposite: Keep some (if not most) stones unturned.

Emptyness is what missing in this world.

Humans try to fill all the void for no reason, except boredom and meaninglessness.


Rat race

I never really chose to be part of the race. Many will question themselves: how do I win that race without acting like a rat?

Reality is: it's not a race. Stop thinking of life as a competition, were something is to be won. You're here. You are. Life just is. Live it (simply, as it were).

Be more critical about it. What is there to be won? At the end of the day we're just a bit of dust, returning to the stars. Whatever we think we've won is ephemeral.

You are competing with yourself in an imaginary race. In fact, no rat would ever enter the rat race. They are too smart.

Instead of a race, undream, be free, go without. Be yourself and don't compare to others.


Undream

When you dream about getting the latest Tesla, I dream about getting rid of my car forever.

When you dream about your next bigger mansion, I dream about roaming around the world, no string attached.

When you dream about your next all-inclusive vacations, I dream about a meaningful everyday where money is not an end.

When you dream about gadgets and luxuries, I dream about reducing my dependencies to the next fucking level.

I undream your way of life so we all can live like humans, not consumers.


Free

You know the adage saying "The best things in life are free"? Turns out I believe it now more than ever. As opposed to what marketers want you to believe, you don't need any gadgets or luxuries to be fulfilled. Find the true meaning of your life outside what modern world tells you.

It can be raising children, setting personal challenges, building something with your own hands, living simply or finding the meaning of life.

No job will make you a better person, no money amount will raise you to the next level. No 10-min workout will make you a superstar. No trendy diet will make you a millionaire.

Stop pretending the opposite.

As long as you have a roof, food, love and nature connection, you are free.

Personally, I find out walks during autumn to be resourceful. Cold, but not too much, with leaves changing colour and falling quietly, the warmth comfort of your home on your return, a nice cup of coffee, time to thing, time to be creative.

Upon my short return to the East coast after 5 years away, I was shocked that friends, family and colleagues barely asked questions about my exile or real life values, rather preferring to blabber about money, purchases, cars, home renovations, job promotions, investments. It was depressing for me to realize that most of the people around me chase things that aren't free and totally forget the true meaning of being alive.


10 recommendations

In trying to keep my life centered, here are 10 recommendations.

  1. Quality over quantity. I will never furnish my place with IKEA again, as well that I will never buy low quality clothing ever again. No fast consumerism, go with a slow, mindful consumption.
  2. Objects as tool, not as trophy. Objects are around us to help fulfill specific tasks. Owning a beautiful car that can't be driven in the snow because it may scratch the plastic undercover is not ideal. It's better to have rugged tool that can last instead of work-of-art tool that are more pain than joy.
  3. No mindless shopping. Exit any sales, Black Fridays, pre-Black Friday, post-Black Friday week, whatever anniversary sale. An object is discounted by 100% when it stays on the shelf. Just don't bring another distraction in your life. The only reason to buy is when you specifically think about it for a somewhat long time, then using a sale to buy it is mindful. Stop being influenced to buy.
  4. Remember form follows function. Get objects that are useful, not just because they are nice. Per example, changing your phone for a newer one because it looks better isn't a valid reason. Buying waterproof shoes is a good one though.
  5. Creativity over consumption. Fight compulsive and mindless consumption to gain time and energy to create. Possessions weigh us down mentally, physically and emotionally.
  6. Minimize all your life. Having a simple schedule, travel light, create space, free your life without filling it again and again.
  7. Never hoard. No junk drawer, nothing should pile around you, deal with it first. Remember, when you die, all your things will be left behind, thus people around you will have to deal with your shit. Always ask yourself: Do I really need to bring more shit into my life? Instead, subtract.
  8. Let go. Recycle, donate, sell. Just don't keep it just in case. Yes, even that 3rd phone charger you will never use. Or that toxic relationship...
  9. Look for purpose, not possession. In the end, I found out that barely nobody cares about you, except you. Nobody cares about what you possess. Instead of chasing the latest tech gizmo, look for the one that fits you while saving you money and time.
  10. Your actions follow your values. Remember what are your core values, what is truly important to you, simplify them and make sure to align your actions accordingly.

Inspired by Ten Commandements of Minimalism by Manuel Moreale and Carl MH Barenbrug.


Questions

Gratitude should be part of your daily actions and values. Asking yourself few questions to assess your level of satisfaction is a great plan. Here are 4 of them that can start reflections on your long-term goals.

By asking myself those questions from time to time, I discovered a deeper meaning in my existence. I need little, thus I lack little. Fewer wants leads to a greater joy in life.

By wanting and owning less, I have more time to do the things that matter the most.


How to focus

So, I decided to to something unusual for me: write on a piece of paper. Yup, you read that right. It feels like we are no longer allowed to hand-write anymore. Paper is viewed as clutter because it was bastardized, paper is relayed to second roles compared to screens.

Anyhow, I took a blank legal sheet, turned it in landscape position and instinctively wrote down "How to focus?" in the center, vertically and horizontally.

I drew a mind map, not something I was familiar with. I interconnected ideas and thoughts about the main goal: how to focus.

After regrouping items, I ended up with 3 main ideas.
  1. Kill distractions
  2. Reduce commitments
  3. Set boundaries

1. Kill distractions

2. Reduce commitments

3. Set boundaries

This map has no pretension to be complete or accurate. It's just what came up on that sheet when I decided to jot down notes. And I'm somewhat amazed by how little time was required to come up with the map.

I would probably add "slow down" somewhere. Leo Babauta wrote something related the other day.

The bottom line is that I need to action some changes in my life to remove more mindless browsing and to start to be mindful on a real, bold focus to create and structure my ideas in a better way.

Specifically, I need to:

The book Focus by Leo Babauta is still my bible and I archived a local copy here.


Perspectives

My conclusion to life is this: everything is a matter of perspectives.

If you can't stand your wife anymore, you have different perspectives.

If you don't understand other people's behaviour, you have different perspectives.

If your president want to bomb another country to secure resource supply chain, you have different perspectives.

Whatever.

I'm not saying you or your wife, your neighbours or your president is right or wrong. All I'm saying is the source of conflicts is always based on the fact that both of your eyes transmit different stimulus and information to process to your brain, resulting in a different perspective on life itself.

Religion, technology, finances, family, sexuality, politics, economics, war, meaning of life, human interference with nature, climate changes, capitalism, community-driven neighbourhood, simple living, car-oriented and designed cities, pipelines getting built, GMO food, social media bias, indigenous peoples across the history, the holocaust, the Olympics, vaccine, coup d'État, social equity, generational equity, abortion, and so on.

My opinion is just one amongst others. What can distinct yours is your tolerance toward other opinions. Don't surround yourself by like-minded people, find open-minded people to expand your views.

Comments on the web

A discussion where everybody talks, but no one listens is actually a waste of energy and a total non-sense. Comments on the web are exactly that.

I don't read comments on Internet for that reason. It is profoundly sad to read. Instead of roping in and arguing against other opinions, I let it slide toward the emptiness of the pointless website it is posted on. If a website is serious enough, no comment are allowed. No greater output is generated because of those.


Lost time

If I could come back in the past, I would like to take back the time I lost to do activities without great value. Whether to play video games too much or buying a house and have to maintain it, there is in action that we do a conviction to invest too much time in a superfluous way, without really going account.

In my twenties, I did not invest enough time to sports activities, not enough invested in my general culture and my personal growth. I would have liked to discover 18 years old the lifestyle I currently have. The minimalist, voluntary simplicity and well-being every day are central themes of my life. Of course, it does not solve all the problems, but I appreciate much more life at this moment than 5 years ago while I had no goal, altruistic vision.

From now on, the combat of modern society occurs in front of a screen, constantly lit and bombarding information its user. Reduce your screen time and addiction to it is vital. Trying modesty by wanting to live better life in a vision of respect for others and the environment seems to me Non-negotiable now. The technology will not solve everything and devote its time to scroll from the information under his eyes only is wasting valuable minutes than we can not find.

As my grandfather said, time does not respect what we do without itself.


Back to basic

Our lives are naturally filled with objects and distractions. It also seems to have a direct link with the virtual world, where the ever more, better, quickly, reign. I have been trying for more than three years to control my expenses, my habits, my time and my values ​​so as not to let me go through the wave that constantly breaks on each of us in the company civilized.

Every day, I'm trying to:

With all these elements, I constantly reduce the impact of what tries to pierce my epidermis and go to my head to better appreciate, breathe, find the true simple pleasures of life and having space, both physical than Mental.

In order to identify who I want to be every day, I wondered what held me, what objects were essential to me, my projects and the numerical aspect of my life.

What is important to me

What objects are essential to me

My projects

Digital aspect

How to do it yourself?

In a few steps, here is the procedure that I used:
  1. Identify the essentials: As discussed above, this is essential to identify what has more valuable for oneself, both in your life, that numerically, in relation to your objects, your projects , etc. Be clear and accurate.
  2. Start reducing what is not essential, one piece at a time: right now, start letting go the rest. If a project or commitment is up to you a major part of your time but is not part of your list of essentials, it's time to question it. Do you also have a physical chaos in your home because of the surplus of objects? Clear and get rid of the surplus. Do you spend most of your time in front of a screen without acquiring anything to make you progress? Let these distractions leave too. In fact, you have to go slowly, but with time, big changes will be apparent.
  3. Learn to satisfy without buying or doing too much. No need to buy things to deal with stress, sadness, solitude. No need to be always busy. Being ready to feel what we feel and agree with that. It begins with meditation, but also cultivate the ability to be present with your feelings is a practice of a lifetime.
  4. Find contentment in the things that count for you. Now that you have abandoned most aesthetic things, the key is to stop looking for happiness and comfort in all the rest and start finding joy in the things you have kept. Find the joy in the slightest.
  5. Start saying no more often. And here is another key step we often forget; Once you have created a space for things that matter, stop saying yes to everything else. As much as you can. Do not let things go back. I must be to keep this in mind, so that I say no generally ... or come back when I start forgetting. I know I forgot when I do not have enough room for what is important.
  6. Appreciate the space. It's not just joy in things that matter. It's also finding joy of being breathed. Have a little space. No need to continue jostling things, but stop and simply be. Note. Breathe. Relax. Very few people allow themselves to do it without having to fill everything reading, looking at by responding, speaking, moving, acting. Enjoy empty space, as if it were just as important as everything else.

Inspired by The Way of Less.


Mission

Since my life turned over itself in order to make more conscientious and thoughtful choices, I am really a new person. I think, I act and I interacted differently.

Mark Twain said one day: The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

I can not say that I discovered in my entirety, but I know that my life is defined slowly and every moment reflects my values ​​and objectives. By chatting with those around me, I see many people are prisoners of a life that they have not chosen, as if why had never been in question.

We only live once, we are wise to choose our mission rather than maintenance. An imposed pace of life, without a mission, without vision often reflects by increased consumption and incalculable distractions. The best way to refocus on oneself, its mission is to avoid falling into distractions, maintenance of physical objects. These must be cleaned, categorized, organized, rearranged, lost, found, purchased (after hours of research), displaced / moved and paid (by hours of work). Consumerism brings us financially, spiritually.

The best way is to live intentionally with a minimalist approach that supports our personal mission. Less stress, more time, more focus, and more happiness.

The secret of happiness is not found in the research of the most, but by developing the ability to enjoy less. -Socrates

Inspired by Choose Mission Over Maintenance.


Observe and adjust

As soon as I wake up, I eat. I would say that between the opening of my eyes and the first bite, it elapses a maximum of 15 minutes. This morning, I paid attention to my gestures. Within five minutes, I'm balancing the timing of an Aeropress over a coffee mug and a skillet that toasted the morning bread. There is a scale of time, that I perform using the observation and adjustment.

So, why is it important to pay attention to a coffee and a toast?

Simply because I realize that it is the basis of my daily life, my way of life is in harmony with what surrounds me.

Behavioural change

Nature can not be prioritized without observing changes that occur over the years and then adjust our behavior. If I am here right now in my life, it's literally because I tried to learn from past behavior.

Housing has transformed: formerly a single-family home too big, on a lot too big that demanded water to maintain an absolutely not natural grass, which one accessed with four different vehicles that consumed a large amount of fuel (and time), in order to impress the vicinity by our apparent financial success and to exhibit my body of one of these same vehicles at the slightest external movement. Now a condominium near everything and people, which requires potentially no vehicle, allows residential density to counter urban sprawl and free land destruction.

Hobbies returned to Earth: Instead of fueling with pleasure sitting on a motorcycle or wanting to travel away from the house by plane or in auto, I have descended to reality and I now appreciate the proximity places surround me, walking, cycling, taking buses.

Financial goals have also changed: from spending regardless of the long-term, without a life plan, I have become a rational, to justify high spending by even higher reductions. For example, living in a high cost of living, but avoiding the expenses of a new car, a second car, a television subscription, two new smart phones every 2 years with expensive plans, expenses of restaurants or luxury items. Each expense is reflected, calculated and analyzed afterwards to align it with our long-term goals. Nothing is perfect, far from it. I still make mistakes (and will do others without any doubt).

Time is now way more precious: I try to avoid any unnecessary motorized transport (for work or even staff), I reduced the number of activity and hobbies in order to focus on what I really like. Obviously, the family has become the central element of my time and priority.

I could stretch the examples long, but in the end, what I retain is that all these changes occurred after taking the time to observe and adjust.


Let it go

As told by The Minimalists, "letting go is not something you do, it is something you stop doing".

I no longer care about luxuries, prestige, information overflow, money, success, possessions. I care about health, time and family. I'm fed up with dealing with stress pushed by society on me. I'd rather live a meaningful life.


Declutter

I totally hate clutter in my life in general. Busy schedule, hoarding, excessiveness are all out of the plans. Over time, I found that what leads to clutter is: too much space, too much money to waste, too much "just in case", too much "I do use it" and the fact that we think that we don't own much in the first place.

  1. Too much space: If you can shovel useless crap in your two-car garage, for sure you won't manage it and you won't manage your habit to buy new things on top of the old ones. Living in a small space, you reconsider everything. What doesn't get used is discarded, sold, recycled, donated.
  2. Too much money to waste: It is not because you can afford something that you should buy it. Don't buy a solution to solve a problem because the solution is highly probably the problem.
  3. Too much "just in case": The likelihood to use something is decreasing with time. If you have been holding on something for a long time without a real purpose, I ask myself if it can be found later on at a cheap cost or if I can go without.
  4. Too much "I do use it": Because you use something doesn't mean you should keep it. Look at duplicate items, complicated solutions, stupid consumerism objects, useless collectables.
  5. We think that we don't own much: I've been reader, analyzing, applying minimalism to my life since 2015 and I still struggle with too much shit I don't need. We buy stuff because we are bored and we want novelty and excitement. We end up with clutter and despair.

The cycle of getting bored, browsing for something new, waiting for the order to arrive, unwrapping the thing, using it for a bit, putting it aside and months later listing it on Craigslist is exhausting. I want no more of thing. Or the least possible.

Even after all those years of minimalism, I buy stupid shit I think I needed. But I end up disappointed in myself after a while.

Few examples

See, human is good at finding solution at a problem manufactured by himself. Instead of complexity, go with simplicity and reduce dependencies on additional accessories that end up being clutter.


Wanting things

So, I moved once again. Handling my what-I-thought-was-few possessions, I have to manage every single item. I donate, I sell, I discard. But most certainly, I'm fed up with that. Not moving, but wanting things and then the urge to possess fades away and I have to deal with a dead piece of crap.

Late at night, scrolling the web to look for new shiny things is the new smoking. Found out that I'm a smoker, trying to use patches since years, but failed many, many times. It can be on craigslists even, I find something I think I want, contact the person, get the object, then... never use it. Up to recently, where I contacted the seller, he responded, things get complicated, no answer, delayed, then I feel that I no longer want the object. Time is telling me the truth: you don't need that shit in your life.

Be content with what you already have. Replace if needed, but don't keep adding endlessly. That is not the answer.

The answer is wanting very little and stop looking for new things in the first place.


What is on my keychain

Do you ever wonder about the wad of stuff that is on your keychain? Do you really need it all? Or is it just more stuff taking up space in your pocket?

Here is what I have:
  1. small apartment fob (to access building and our unit)
  2. mailbox key
  3. bike lock
  4. locker #1 key
  5. locker #2 key

On a separate keychain only when driving:

  1. Car keyfob
  2. Cargo box key

Content of my wallet

I used to have a TGT wallet with 8+ different cards, but since 2020, I minimized it with a Suprgood slim wallet that contains 4 cards only:
  1. Job ID
  2. Driver license (serving as a health card also)
  3. Credit card
  4. Transit card

No membership/reward cards, no debit card, just what I need and nothing else.


What I carry in my pockets

  1. Keychain
  2. Wallet
  3. Phone (if I really need it)

Interesting blog: Adventure-Some, Logan Gee, Carl Barenbrug and Manuel Moreale