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Recent times have given us the opportunity to pause, reflect, perhaps change direction, or clarify what matters.
Pandemic restrictions have fostered an imposed simplicity of life and lifestyle that many were never previously accustomed to.
One outcome has been a resurgence of Minimalism. This countercultural movement has been around for centuries.
Minimalism has influenced art, music, design, architecture, science, business systems, and personal lifestyles.
I love it when an ancient concept comes roaring back with new relevance.
Wholesale changes in our lifestyle include spending less, saving more, working more simply from home, and rediscovering the great outdoors.
The recent past has allowed us some head-space to evaluate everything. I mean everything from how we “do life” and how we do “do business.”
If you hold vague negative feelings about things like consumerism, clutter, debt, and all forms of distraction, you’re well on the way toward a minimalist lifestyle.
Don’t freak out. It doesn’t mean you have to toss it all and adopt a monastic existence.
The basic tenets are to combat the chaotic excesses of modern-day living.
History abounds with minimalists who adopted a simple living lifestyle in support of a greater life mission.
JESUS OF NAZARETH Rabbi | Prophet | Healer
“What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.”
CONFUCIUS Philosopher | Chinese Mystic
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
LEONARDO DA VINCI – Inventor | Painter | Sculptor
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
More recent examples include:
HENRY DAVID THOREAU – Writer | Philosopher
“Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify, simplify! … Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose.”
LEO TOLSTOY – Author | Essayist | Educational Reformer
“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity.”
ALBERT EINSTEIN – Physicist | Nuclear Scientist | Scholar
“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
More importantly, Minimalism has become a viable antidote to what I’ll call the info-demic. Never before have we been carpet-bombed with so much information. So often, the data is conflicting and confusing.
Like guard rails on a mountain road, or radar in the fog, there’s a measure of wisdom in functional Simplicity.
There’s really no manual or rulebook for adopting Minimalism.
Here’s my take on how it works in real life.
Desires and Expectations; Deliberately expecting less from those around me and the world, in general, allows me to appreciate what I have. That doesn’t mean I stop striving for better. I can only do the best I can, and others can only give what they’ve got. Often that leaves gaps of unmet expectations. Approaching those gaps with a measure of grace and understanding smooths the bumps. Sometimes you find pockets of joy along the way.
Possessions; This means being intentional about owning only what you really need. I’ve started ditching stuff that no longer serves a purpose and stopped buying things for the sake of ownership. This frees up resources for me to be generous with the people and the causes that I love.
Relationships; Minimalism in this realm is brutal to explain but here goes.
Relationships have different degrees of value. I think of them as relationship “buckets.”
Some are purely transactional– like the guy who cuts my hair. We have some friendly chit-chat about family and life, but that’s about it.
Then there’s the relational bucket. Here’s where I relate and stay in touch with many folks, but it’s more at the “acquaintance” level.
My standard Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Disclaimer:
Hi Ray! Great to hear from you, and I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for your Invitation to connect, but it was probably an algorithm suggestion – right? Fair warning – I’m a minimalist FaceBook contributor. I do enjoy staying in touch with what’s going on for others (minus cute cats and what so and so had for breakfast) So – just so you know – my FB “friend” bar is pretty low. You don’t have to loan me money, bail me out of jail, or visit when I’m in “The Home” or anything.
This usually gets a good response and opens the door for further conversations.
Thirdly, there’s the transformational bucket. These are my “spark” people who inspire me with their intellect, wisdom, care, love, and humor. Time together is always an energizing, uplifting, and nourishing experience. Hopefully, I do the same for them.
In the end, it’s about discerning which relationships add genuine value and making enough time for those who mean the most to you.
Thought Life; Thought life minimalism involves confidence to not over-think (worry), underthink (neglect), or race ahead to check off as many boxes as possible. It’s being present and engaged while keeping the bigger picture in mind. Each day is a chance to engage fully in the joys, triumphs, sorrows, fears, faults, and near misses that make up a life. Each day is a chance to do better and make a difference for yourself and others.
A Myriad of Benefits
Go ahead. Google “Benefits of Minimalism,” and you’ll quickly get the picture.
Personally, I enjoy the less stress, more freedom aspect of Minimalism. The additional freedom allows me more time to be productive. It leaves more room for people and causes I care about. Decision making becomes much easier because either it fits my value system or it doesn’t
You see, simplifying, and removing clutter, whether it’s figurative or literal, isn’t the end result – it’s merely the first step. Understanding why you’re doing this gives you the traction to keep going.
Until next time,