People say that what we’re seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. What we seek is an experience of being alive.
- Joseph Campbell
We’re at a time in human history where anything we want is just a text, keystroke, or app away. Anything we want, from which celebrity is dating whom to where Dakar is located to the latest food or fashion trend to what your kid is up to this very moment, all of it is within reach.
The upside of this is that you can always know something and hunger for more knowing.
The downside of this is that you can always know something and hunger for more knowing.
We’re also at the point in USAmerican history where the American Dream has become the American Nightmare.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know exactly what I mean.
When I embarked on my minimalist(ish) project (journey?) back in November 2011, I was stuck. My four+ year relationship had long since stagnated, I had my hands in several pots and nothing was cooking, and I was overwhelmed by all the clutter that was in the house I shared with my father (mostly his). I needed help, and I needed it quick.
But I didn’t know who/how to ask for help. I grew up very comfortably and I wasn’t allowed to complain, vent, or otherwise voice an opinion about what I actually needed and what wasn’t working. Privilege doesn’t have “problems”. How dare I complain when I had so much? So I did what I always did – I put up walls (and surrounded myself with clutter) and tried to figure everything out by myself.
To my benefit, that’s how I found minimalism.
Most people think of minimalism and envision a life of Lack, one that is deprived of all the creature comforts that make Life worth living.
But minimalism is much more than that.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to minimalism.
At the core of it, minimalism is about getting out from under the weight of what’s holding you down and keeping you from living the life you want.
It’s about letting go of the stuff, obligations, and people in your life that don’t serve your highest purpose so you can have time for the stuff, obligations, and people that really matter.
So no, you don’t have to get a dumpster and start emptying your space out. You could, if that’s what you wanted to do, but you don’t have to.
As a Health Coach, minimalism makes perfect sense to me as one in a series of approaches to lasting health, happiness, and success.
Because so much of what ails us is due largely to the stuff we’ can’t seem to let go of
irrational belief systems
a broken heart
and so on.
If you don’t believe that these things can and are making people sick, simply run an Internet search for statistics on chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and migraines. Then ask yourself, why are so many people suffering from these conditions? Why do seemingly “healthy” people have heart attacks or get cancer? Why do “bad” things happen to “good” people?
My minimalism recognizes:
I like having nice things.
I like living comfortably.
I don’t like housekeeping.
A high quality of life is important to me.
I don’t want to be a slave to a job that has no meaning for me.
I want control of my time.
The last two statements were the clincher with regards to embracing minimalism.
It also meant having to release the voices (inside and outside my head) that were trying to tell me that I had a malfunction, that I was flawed in thinking I could live like this, because Life came attached with several of the things I didn’t want or didn’t like and I had better get used to it.
I didn’t want to get used to it. I didn’t want to live my life having to deal with what I didn’t want or didn’t like most of the time. There had to be another way.
And I found it.
Minimalism made sense to me: Stop doing/accumulating the things that were essentially keeping me trapped in an existence I didn’t want.
That meant acknowledging, for example, that if I don’t like housekeeping (beyond laundry, washing dishes, sweeping, mopping, and wiping off counters), to stop accumulating stuff that would add on to my housekeeping. So I had to get rid of anything that added to my housekeeping to-do list. No more junk drawers. Yes, plural. No more tchotchkes that were basically dust collectors. No unnecessary surfaces to hold papers and other clutter. No more holding on to clothes and shoes I hadn’t worn in over a year. It meant no more jobs that I hated doing but happened to be good at. No more working for a paycheck just so I could buy stuff I really didn’t need. And rather painfully, it meant leaving a relationship that no longer supported my personal development and goals.
As I applied this to other areas of my life, I asked myself: Who/what drains me? Where am I giving too much time and energy to with no reciprocity? And on and on.
So as you think of minimalism, don’t think of it as giving up what you love. Think of minimalism as giving up the STUFF that’s keeping you from having and doing what you love.
When you think of minimalism, try to think of it as reclaiming your freedom from the trappings of conspicuous consumption and misguided idealism.
Honeybee Holistic is a health coaching practice that embraces minimalism as a tool for letting go and living in the Present. Throughout the blog, newsletter, and coaching, I offer ideas and a plan of action for freedom, integrity, prosperity, success, and hard work. You get to define what those ideas are and only you hold the stick that measures your achievement in those areas.
Honeybee Holistic is a lifestyle by design, a daily practice of reflection, intention, ideas, knowledge, inspiration, action, interaction, intra-action, and aggregation.
As a member of Honeybee Holistic, you will explore and implement:
- decluttering and downsizing unnecessary possessions
- becoming and staying debt-free
- eating well
- self-care, physical activity, and healthy living
- creating and maintaining healthy relationships
- discovering your passion
- doing work you love
- making time for what really matters
- civic engagement
Join Honeybee Holistic, my online tribe that explores the concepts above. You’ll receive weekly newsletters covering various topics and can join in on the discussion right here on the site.
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