A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
~Henry David Thoreau~
In Navy boot camp, we had a saying(or rather, the Company Commanders had a saying): If it didn’t come in your sea-bag, you don’t need it. I served for 7 years – some of which, were spent on board ship. At minimum, you were assigned a coffin rack, and one stand-up locker. The rack, when raised, offered separate compartments for storage. The stand-up lockers were about waist-high, and about 12-18 inches wide. The onus was on you, to figure out how to fit your uniforms, and enough toiletries and civilian clothes for the next 6 months.
And thus began and appreciation of minimalism, and the art of simple living. If this is something you might want to implement, but aren’t sure where to start, consider the following:
What Minimalism Is
- Learning what you can live with/without;
- Examining your daily habits, and how this ties in with your values and goals;
- Leveraging your resources toward things that nurture your habits, values and goals;
What Minimalism Isn’t
- Depriving oneself – no, you don’t need to give up all your possessions;
- Living as an ascetic (yes, we know you have to spend money)
I was particularly inspired by the book: Everything that Remains. Part memoir, part self-help, it is an eye-opening discussion on the perils of mindless consumerism, our emotional attachment to things, and how to re-prioritize your purchases.
Did You Know?
Americans love our stuff. We’ll even pay money to store our stuff. According to consumerreports.com, in 1995, just 1 in 17 households rented storage unit. As of 2016 it is now 1 in 10. Even still, the Self Storage Association reports that the United States now has 2.3 billion square feet devoted to self-storage space.
Annual industry revenue for self-storage is about $38 billion, and the average monthly cost for a storage unit is $91.14 (sparefoot.com).
What Does Minimalism Look Like?
For me, minimalism equals small space living. I don’t have a whole lot of furniture, and the furniture I do have is multi-functional – meaning, a trunk serves as both a place to sit, and a storage for blankets. As mentioned before, my desire to live simply was inspired by having lived onboard ship during my time in the Navy.
Naturally, because I don’t have a lot of space to begin with, that is what curbs my spending. I know that if I buy something, I have to get rid of something else.
So You Wanna Try Simple Living? – Suggested Next Steps
- Consider the impact of excess “stuff” in your life;
- Research resources on minimalism and find what works best for you;
- Start small with something like a 30-day de-clutter challenge;
- Use a system such as, Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of life, to help prioritize, and make more mindful purchases.
Note: Although the Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life primarily focuses on goal setting, it can apply to simple living as well. Ideally, you should invest in items/experiences that will enhance at least 1 or more of these areas in your life.
Wrapping it all up:
Human desire is infinite. We will always want things. Think back to when internet access first hit the scene. Everyone rushed out to get access to dial-up. Then dial up was ditched for DSL. We then dumped DSL for Wi-Fi. And don’t get me started on music’s transition from the record player to streaming subscriptions. As new things are presented, we want them, and we need to understand that. But we also need to temper our desires, and understand when enough is enough.
For additional resources on minimalism, visit: