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If You Think Minimalism Is Only About Having Fewer Stuff, You Don’t Really Understand It

If You Think Minimalism Is Only About Having Fewer Stuff, You Don’t Really Understand It

Becoming a minimalist has captivated a new generation of people looking to pare down their lifestyles. It’s been all over the news lately, including in The New Yorker , where the #vanlife has taken over the site.[1] For me, minimalism is not about having fewer things—as a traveler and full-time digital nomad, it’s a necessity and a philosophy.

What really is Minimalism?

Minimalism is really the idea of having the chance to pursue happiness. Much of the philosophy is finding what makes you content as a human being and following your passions rather than acquiring things. This can mean having items in the traditional sense, like a car and nice sheets. As long as these things are essential to your goals and happiness as a person, then there is nothing wrong with having some items that you truly enjoy and make a difference in your life.

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Having more doesn’t mean it’s better.

When things become unnecessary, that’s when minimalism is important to consider in your life philosophy. Our current world culture encourages buying more in order to be happier person. Some of the pros of choosing minimalism include giving you the freedom to explore your interests on experiences rather than on clothes or styles that will change quickly.

Our society attaches meaning to how much you have and how expensive it was to purchase. This means often that we prescribe meaning to how many things you have rather than value as a human being. Instead of focusing on whether or not an individual is fulfilling his or her goals, we focus on how much money he or she is making and whether or not they have the newest gadgets and styles.

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The first time I realized that I was going to have to give up the idea of having things was when I landed a job as a travel writer that would require me to move to Italy . This meant renting an apartment that was mostly used for vacation rentals—everything was provided, including dishware, but it wasn’t mine.

Sometimes less can give you more.

There’s a freedom to being able to pick up and not feel tied down to a place. Because of a more minimalist lifestyle, my boyfriend and I have been able to travel the world and to have experiences that very few have. We’ve seen ancient temples in Kyoto and ridden camels in the Sahara Desert. All of our items fit into backpacks and we are able to pick up and move anywhere we desire.

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This has absolutely made me a happier person in the long run rather than tying myself to a place and job that makes me unhappy. Living an unconventional lifestyle can be scary, and it can be difficult when you are worried about how you are going to maintain your lifestyle and how you are going to build a foundation for the future. However, because minimalism is a philosophy and there are no set rules, you can still employee the ideas even when you have decided to settle down and have a more permanent existence.

Value yourself, not what you have.

Sometimes, I wish I had a more settled lifestyle. I see my friends buying homes and owning the latest cell phone and I wonder if I have chosen wrongly in adopting a more unconventional life. However, I have freedoms that they don’t, and I’m often told how many wish they choose the same as my boyfriend and I have and travel the world. As a result, I’ve achieved many of my personal goals and I feel more complete as a human being than if I had chosen to buy the latest and the greatest items.

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Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Alex Schnee

Travel Writer

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Last Updated on May 7, 2021

Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

I have been an early-riser for over a year now. Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 AM without hitting the snooze button even once. I never take naps and rarely feel tired throughout the day. The following is my advice on how to start your day (everyday) at 5:00 AM.The idea of waking up early and starting the day at or before the sunrise is the desire of many people. Many highly successful people attribute their success, at least in part, to rising early. Early-risers have more productive mornings, get more done, and report less stress on average than “late-risers.” However, for the unaccustomed, the task of waking up at 5:00 AM can seem extremely daunting. This article will present five tips about how to physically wake up at 5:00 AM and how to get yourself mentally ready to have a productive day.

Many people simply “can’t” get up early because they are stuck in a routine. Whether this is getting to bed unnecessarily late, snoozing repetitively, or waiting until the absolute last possible moment before getting out of bed, “sleeping in” can easily consume your entire morning. The following tips will let you break the “sleeping in” routine.

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Relocate your alarm clock.

Having an alarm clock too close to your bed is the number one reason people simply cannot get up in the morning. If your alarm clock is within arms reach of your bed, or if you can turn your alarm clock off without getting out of bed, you are creating an unnecessarily difficult situation for yourself. Before I became an early-riser, there were many times that I would turn off my alarm without even waking up enough to remember turning it off. I recommend moving your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get completely out of bed to turn it off. I keep my alarm clock in the bathroom. This may not be possible for all living arrangements, however, I use my cellphone as an alarm clock and putting it in the bathroom makes perfect sense. In order to turn off my alarm I have to get completely out of bed, and since going to the restroom and taking a shower are the first two things I do everyday, keeping the alarm clock in the bathroom streamlines the start of my morning.

Scrap the snooze.

The snooze feature on all modern alarm clocks serves absolutely no constructive purpose. Don’t even try the “it helps me slowly wake up” lie. I recommend buying an alarm that does not have a snooze button. If you can’t find an alarm without a snooze button, never read the instructions so you will never know how long your snooze button lasts. Not knowing whether it waits 10 minutes or 60 minutes should be enough of a deterrent to get you to stop using it.

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Change up your buzzer

If you use the same buzzer day in and day out, you begin to develop a tolerance to the sound. The alarm clock will slowly become less effective at waking you up over time. Most newer alarm clocks will let you set a different buzzer tone for the different days of the week. If you change your buzzer frequently, you will have an easier time waking up.

Make a puzzle

If you absolutely cannot wake up without repetitive snoozing, try making a puzzle for yourself. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the longer your alarm is going off, the more awake you will become. Try making your alarm very difficult to turn off by putting it under the sink, putting it under the bed, or better yet, by forcing yourself to complete a puzzle to turn it off. Try putting your alarm into a combination-locked box and make yourself put in the combination in order to turn off the alarm — it’s annoying, but extremely effective!

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Get into a routine

Getting up at 5:00 AM is much easier if you are doing it Monday through Friday rather than sporadically during the week. I recommend setting an alarm once that repeats everyday. Also, going to bed at about the same time every night is an important factor to having a productive morning. Learn how much sleep you need to get in order to not feel exhausted the following day. Some people can get by on 4-6 hours while most need 7-8.

Have a reason

Make sure you have a specific reason to get up in the morning. Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc. I recommend finding something you want to do for yourself in the morning. It will be a lot easier to get up if you are guaranteed to do something fun for yourself — compare this to going on vacation. You probably have no problem waking up very early on vacation or during holidays. My goal every morning is to bring that excitement to the day by doing something fun for myself.

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As I previously mentioned, I have been using these tips for a very long time. Joining the world of early-risers has been a great decision. I feel less stressed, I get more done, and I feel happier than I did when I was a late-riser. If you follow these tips you can become an early-riser, too. Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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