Minimalism: minimalist guide: inspired by Leo Babauta www.mnmlist.com

Q: Why be a minimalist?

A: It’s a way to let it go by the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.

Q: What can we let go?

A: One of the basics of minimalism is that you eliminate as many non-necessities as you can, to make room for what’s important.

You learn to be content with what you already have, with the necessities, with doing things you love rather than having things.

But it’s funny, because often things we assume are necessities are not necessarily so. The problem is that we categorize things as necessities because we’re used to them, and we can’t see how to live without them. And it’s difficult to make big changes. What’s really needed, beyond food, shelter, basic clothing, and loved ones?

Some examples:

Lots of clothes. While I don’t advocate going naked (though some do it) nor do I recommend just owning one outfit, it is possible to own less clothing than most people have. We don’t need to constantly buy clothes to stay fashionable — we can buy quality, timeless clothing, with colors and patterns chosen so that all our clothes go with each other.

A big house. Have less stuff, you need less house.

A car. Cars are seen as necessities, but amazingly, people lived without them for quite awhile before the 20th century. Even today, some people manage to go carless. And it’s not impossible — especially if you live in a place with a decent public transportation system. And there are car sharing options now in many cities, so you can use a car when you need it, for much less than actually owning a car. It’s possible to bike and walk most places, and take public transit and shared cars everywhere else.

Q: What is minimalist living?

A: It’s simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.

Q: What are the benefits of minimalism?

A: There are many. It’s lower in stress. It’s less expensive and less debt. It’s less cleaning and maintaining. It’s more enjoyable. There’s more room for creating, for loved ones, for peace, for doing the things that give you joy. There’s more time for getting healthy. It’s more sustainable. It’s easier to organize. These are only the start.

Q: I believe in simplifying, but why should I be so frugal — what wrong with a few REALLY nice things?

A: Frugality is simply a way of not spending on unnecessary things — sticking to the essentials. Is there anything wrong with a few really nice things? Not necessarily. If you need to buy something, it’s usually better to go for quality, rather than cheap, because it’s better made and will last longer. Minimalism is about quality over quantity.

However … it’s always good to examine whether it’s good to have an attachment to material things. This isn’t something I’ve completely succeeded with — I love my Mac, for example — but it’s something I’ve been working on. I am much less attached to possessions than I was just a few years ago, and I recommend that everyone examine their relationship with physical things, with products, and see if it’s really what they want.

Q: What does the schedule of a minimalist look like?

A: There’s no single answer to this question, but a minimalist would probably focus on doing less, on having a less cluttered schedule, but what’s on his or her schedule would be important. A minimalist might not actually keep a schedule or calendar, at one extreme, if he didn’t have much to do each day — he might instead live and work moment-by-moment, or just decide each morning to focus on one or two important things.

A minimalist would also save a lot of time because of having less clutter and fewer possessions. That means less time cleaning and maintaining, and less time searching for things. A minimalist who clears away distractions and single-tasks would also waste less time with those distractions and in switching back and forth between tasks (multi-tasking).

In general, all this results in more time for relaxing, for hobbies, for creating, for doing fun things.

Q: What rules do I need to follow to become minimalist?

A: There are no set rules. There’s no one way. What I suggest for living minimally isn’t what someone else would recommend, nor is it how you would live your minimalist life. In general, however, you want to live simply without too many unnecessary possessions, distractions, clutter, or waste. You want to live frugally, debt-free, sustainably, naturally.

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