“Lifestyle experiment!” I love the effect when these two words are combined. It sounds like a scientific method of life. I first heard the term of ‘lifestyle experiment’ from a TED talk of a young man who moves to a different part of the world every four months. I’ve heard a lot of lifestyle experiments such as a family not having sugar in their diet, a man who tried to live biblically, a Tech savvy guy who did not use the internet for a year. There are a lot of ideas on how to twist life but what I want to try is what I call “minimalist lifestyle experiment.” The principle behind this lifestyle experiment is to prioritize what matters most to you and eliminate what you do not need. The concept sounds simple but the execution is extremely difficult, especially if you are living in a highly urbanized city. In a world highly driven by commerce and appetite, you are a survivor if you can maintain a minimalist lifestyle
My interest on minimalist lifestyle experiment stems from how we define success and happiness. Today, we define success by excess. We live in a world where we celebrate abundance. We have an irrational obsession over accumulation which is influenced by our consumerist behavior. While we commend people with multitasking skill and with multiple roles, we should pause and contemplate, is it worth it to have it all? It seems we define success in quantity. I was once obsessed of acquiring a lot or doing a lot. For every new task, new role, new item in my bucket list, I examine if this can make me happier or will this be an additional problem.
It takes calamities and life tragedies for us to realize that all the wealth you acquired and the status you gained in your lifetime are meaningless.
I don’t subscribe to extreme minimalist lifestyle such as the vegetarian lifestyle, or full-time monks. I can’t imagine myself living in the woods with no wi-fi and electricity. I still believe in moderation. As what Confucius philosophy teaches: The key to happiness is moderation. We don’t totally eliminate, we just prioritize.
Here are some of the things I try to work on to have a minimalist lifestyle.
Focus one thought at a time
This is probably the hardest thing to do. I describe my thoughts like tangible things that fall and break into pieces and my friend tells me that my thoughts are like waterfalls. And sometimes my thoughts are like raindrops I cannot catch them. It’s a challenge to concentrate. I am learning to be on focus by living in the present and by setting limits on the things I have to do in a day.
Stop being futuristic
I try to be less obsessed about the future. I keep a mental note that the future does not hold a promise. Thinking about the future gives me too much stress and anxiety. As what I wrote in my last blog post: “Brilliance is seasonal. Let go and let God decide when.”
It does help to be less futuristic. It minimizes expectations. I enjoy my trips, events and activities more because I don’t have pre-existing feelings of excitement or tension.
Savor the moment
Sometimes, we think about dinner while watching a movie. Sometimes, we think about our plans over the weekend while talking to our friends. This kind of habit is not a wise way to maximize your time. I learn to savor the moment by paying attention to details. When I walk on the street, I observe the random strangers along the way. When I talk to someone, I notice the person’s gestures. I have one particular subject at a given time to focus.
I’m a trash collector. I’ve been keeping a lot of trash for sentimental reasons. Now I am brave enough to give up that things that used to hold value to me such as my favorite shirts, my worn-out jeans, my college readings. Because I have no permanent address, I learn to have less. I don’t have a lot of room for everything.
Have self-control in social media and internet
This is very hard. I can’t live without the internet. This is where I learn a lot and share a lot of things. I try to fight the urge to post a lot in a day in my FB. I just made a simple rule that the maximum number of posts is two, that also applies to the links and photos I shared on Facebook.
Have a minimalist gadget
Having a gadget does not sound minimalist at all but it helps to have one gadget that can do a lot of things. I like my Samsung Note 10 because it has many functions. I stopped buying paperbacks, spreading sticky notes around my room, having notebooks and planners because of my gadget. I become more organized and must I say environment-friendly.
Samsung Note – a mobile phone at the same time a picture frame hehe
Turn off the TV
It has been a while that I really spend hours to watch TV. I just realize the TV causes thought pollution from TV commercials with wrong values to exaggerated news. I am taking in a lot of unnecessary trivia on my head. Though, I do like arts and entertainment, I just want to filter what entertains me and what I want to be informed of.
My friends are teasing me that I am a goat because I have so many photos of leafy vegetables in Instagram. I do eat a lot but I always aim to choose the lesser-evil food. I want to enjoy food but I don’t want to feel guilty and bloated that I feel like I want to sleep after a big meal. I want to feel light and energized so that I can move quick and vigorously.
Walking is a real minimalist habit. I used to ride a jeepney to reach MRT station but later on, I replaced it with a 20-minute walk. Like most office worker, I spend so many hours sitting on front of the computer. I want to challenge myself to do something for my body and for my savings.
When you don’t know what to do with your money, save. It does not sound believable that people don’t know what to do with their money but in reality, people don’t. They are not the richest people in the world but they are overwhelmed by the amount of money they have. People have a tendency to splurge. When they have extra money, they buy an extra phone, extra shoes. My rule: I think ten times or more (and sometimes months)before I buy something I really like.
Cut the bills you don’t need
I always have regular calls offering postpaid plans. Because I can’t find the necessity and urgency of a postpaid plan, I decline. Having a lot of bills and material things makes life complicated. Money can give or take your freedom. Most of the time, when salary increases, our expenses increase. That should not be.
Change how you reward yourself
Rewards do not have to be in cash or possession. We always say that the most valuable things in life don’t come with price tag but this does not reflect on how we spend our time, money, and energy. When we want to reward ourselves for a job well done, we buy a new phone or a new piece of furniture. Instead of shopping, why not reward yourself with vacation or quality time with friends and family? Or learn something new? Take classes? Look for a new adventure? Invest on experience and learning. These are priceless.
Enjoy life’s simple pleasure
When our aspirations seem impossible and when we fail ourselves, we add an emotional baggage. We want to eliminate baggage whether it’s in kilograms or feelings. My remedy is to gain appreciation on the things around me. Watch rom-com or laugh at your friend’s corny joke. Bring out your 16 year old self.
Less is more :)