Thursday, June 5, 2008

Minimalist Living

As humans we tend to associate our growth with accumulation. Accumulation of wealth, accumulation of social circle, accumulation of things, accumulation of thoughts....

Some of them are important for day to day. We have to identify the "positive accumulations" such as finances, or "negative accumulations" such as unnecessary things.

People tend to collect things sometimes to pass them on to next generation. A gorgeous wedding dress, or stamp collection which then can sell in case of emergencies makes sense. But passing on junk in the name of 'hobby collections' does not.

Minimalism is the new 'Mantra', being adopted by the current generation. Minimalist house, de-cluttering house, minimalist finances, minimalist art, simplify life, 80/20 rule -- all mean eliminate unnecessary things. We cannot organize our life unless we recognize the basic stuff. Extend the minimalism to all aspects of your life.

1. Think Practical

Be practical, when you identify the positive and negative things. Make sure they are specific to you.

Good relationships is a positive accumulation. More cash in bank is positive accumulation. If you like nature, more flower pots on the porch is positive accumulation. But if you do not have a green tumb, they will soon turn into sore spots.

If giving away your great great grand mother's wedding dress is going to wrench away your heart every time you think about it, you are accumulating negative feelings for life. Better keep the dress and lock it away in a corner. But hanging on to gazillion kid's clothes you will never use is clutter.

Accumulation of subject books you might never read is Negative accumulation, even though they stack neatly in your book shelf. One they get outdated very soon, and two they accumulate dust easily.

Think about long term maintenance. The first picture is of a basic bead. Easy to decorate up or down, and easy to clean and polish. The second bed might look great but will soon turn into a eye sore if it gathers dust.

Think a) Is it low maintenance on a daily basis b) Is it practical

(Both the photos are from

3. Think Global

Look at Minimalism as a life style, and not as a decoration style. Starting at having a Minimalist Living Room is a good start, but extend it to you office, your e-mails and your thoughts. Minimalism keeps you focused on the important stuff. At the end of the post are few links on how to minimalize in various aspects of your life.

Some things I started with

  • Deleted the "Maybe some day I will talk" contacts from my cell phone
  • Sold / donated the books I might not read
  • Boxed all utensils, and started taking as need basis. Keeping them to no more than 2 utensils of same type per person (2 spoons)
  • Started setting bills to auto-pay
  • Any song in my collection, I have a problem with goes into a may-be list

4. Think Critical

Any one who was forced to evacuate, or pack in a hurry faces the problem what do I really need?
When evacuating, you have to pack your life in couple of suitcases. You do not pack you'r CDs or the tea cups your wife's brother's friend's neighbor gave. You pack your photos and documents. Same is true for a true minimalist living. If you have 1000 mails in you'r inbox, and you are given only an hour to go through which would you keep? If you have only 1 day to visti, which friends would you hang out with? If you have to move to a brand new house which are the 5 pieces of furniture you will choose?

I have only two suitcases, which hold all my critical life. Everything else, I can walk away in hearth beat.

5. Think Fast

Visualize. Imagine empty space. Savor it in mind. Whatever keeps you moving fast, do it.

If you are just starting on this path, start with the smallest aspect of your life. If you have 20 books and 500 e-mails in your life, start with the books. This is also what I call a top down approach. Starting small helps me to deal with confusion earlier in the path. It also helps you in getting detached part. Have a "percentage goal". That means aim for 5% reduction in all parts of your life, then go for 10 %. Otherwise you will be stuck in cleaning your house, and will not deal with other parts of your life.

Links that inspired me in "The Minimalist" process.

Bottom Line: Which other aspects will of your life you expand the minimalist living to?


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Wishing you success with your smart thoughts and good living blog!

  2. minimalist living reveals what you truly value. and i have found that my minimalist office is very freeing and less distracting.

  3. Have you read the book "The Happy Minimalist"?

  4. These suggestions are very helpful. I appreciate the ideas of ways to begin the process of simplifying one's life.

  5. It is extremely interesting for me to read this article. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.