How to get a jump start on living with less
Long before minimalism because the darling of the blogosphere, I was drawn to the lifestyle of the ascetic movement and its prominent figures throughout history – those that led lifestyles characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often pursuing spiritual goals.
When I awakened from the distraction of religion, I realized that what attracted me to the lifestyles of Jesus, Siddhartha Gautama, the Essenes, and the Catholic Franciscans was their cultivation of spiritual insight while living only with the essentials.
I’m no ascetic
While I’m not an acetic, I do practice a form of asceticism now popularly called minimalism. Minimalism can be defined in many ways, but the definition I like best is as follows:
Minimalism is choosing a deliberate lifestyle that includes possessing only those items that bring value to daily life. This choice results in a life with room to focus on what’s truly important.
Some minimalists live out of one backpack and travel the world living and working independently. Others have children, live in tiny homes, and hold full-time jobs. Regardless of their individual circumstances, those choosing to deliberately live with less enjoy a quality of life not found in their former lives. They’ve found a sense of peace, simplicity, and tranquility living a lighter life.
How to get started
I recommend a systematic approach to jumpstart your efforts to live with less. It’s actually a game of sorts and it’s called The Minimalist’s Game (#MinsGame) as explained here by Joshua and Ryan of The Minimalists. It’s a month-long process to discard those items, possessions, a.k.a. ‘your stuff/crap,’ that no longer bring value to your life.
Here’s How To Play
According the post cited above:
Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of some of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day of the month. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.
Why You’d Want to Play the #MinsGame
There are so many reasons to play, including getting rid of junk, creating more space in your life, and decreasing the amount of stress your belongings, toxic relationships, and ambitions create. Many of the habits we have, relationships we are involved in, even goals we have…create undue stress and suffering. When we rid ourselves of these we are free to focus on what’s important.
In my case, I’ve pruned physical belongings, certain social media accounts, and several relationships over the past few years. But it’s wasn’t proving sufficient to achieve the level of minimalist existence to which I aspired. SO I started playing the #MinsGame and writing about it here on The Practical Buddhist.
Below is a list of posts that I wrote, day by day in July 2014, accounting for the 496 items I discarded that month.
If I can do it, so can you
I urge you to consider paying the #MinsGame if you’re suffering from a lack of focus in life or career or even relationship and health issues. Without realizing it, ‘your stuff’ can hinder your ability to see and understand the major themes of life and making truly important life decisions.
Read through my experiences and I think you’ll see that what happened to me can also happened to you, on day at a time. 😎
Essay on Playing the MinsGame