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The Hardest Part of Being a Minimalist That Most People Have Overlooked

The Hardest Part of Being a Minimalist That Most People Have Overlooked

At a time where people seem to define themselves by what they have -via Instagram bragging or the recent obsession with affluence, you’d be surprised to find that growing alongside that trend are an increasing number of individuals who identify themselves as minimalists.

Minimalists, i.e. people who choose to live comfortably with as few material possessions as possible – have become a staple in the sub-culture of many economies.

This decision doesn’t come from lack of motivation or ambition -as a matter of fact- many of them make reasonably solid incomes; but rather as personal decision and a means to not only ensure financial stability but also as way of disconnecting from the zeitgeist of wealth-seeking and enjoying life for it’s simple beauty.

The lifestyle choice is akin to people who enjoy hunting, camping, skydiving, or any seemingly niche commitment. There is no qualifier for it, other than that it works for them. As anything else, it comes with its’ own fill of pros and cons.

The question than becomes, “Is less, more?”. The answer may shock you.

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Becoming a minimalist is a massive change.

Along with the obvious economical benefit of being a minimalist, many also report to be genuinely happier. As matter of fact, in the United States minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn, claims that minimalism may have even helped him to find his calling in life:[1]

“Getting rid of the stuff is just the initial step. I found that once I got rid of everything in my way, it was much easier to focus on what was important in my life: health, relationships, pursuing my passion, personal growth, and contributing beyond myself.”

However, despite becoming a minimalist, in the article, he does imply that it was not all that he had to do in order to find happiness.

“We go way out of our way to add value to other people’s lives. I don’t know about you, but when I find value in something, I tend to share it.”

It seems that minimalism has assisted Millburn -to an extent, though his approach and calling may not be a “one size-fits-all for the average individual. Let’s dig a bit deeper.

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Millburn states in the aforementioned article that his inspiration for pursuing the minimalist lifestyle was Colin Wright, whom is referred to as a remarkable minimalist on his own standing. Wright had this to say about the lifestyle-

“Minimalism is about getting rid of the things in your life that don’t add value so you can focus on the things that do. Beyond that, it’s a person-by-person set of rules.”

From the perspective of these two, we can see that minimalism in and of itself, may not be the answer that we’re looking for but may provide us the path to happiness and meaning – sans a multitude of accrued possessions.

But, what of the every man?

Well for the person interested in minimalism or becoming a minimalist, without going to the extremes of Millburn or Wright, there are a host of other issues to face. The primary issue of course being how to redefine yourself once you’ve made the decision.

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The change is undeniably massive. According to the Huffington Post, the change in identity is in fact, the most massive adjustment to make.[2] They spoke to Ryan Nicodemus -a co-founder of The Minimalists- blog (along with Millburn),[3] who had this to say about the transition-

“It wasn’t really the stuff that was hard to get rid of. What really was difficult for me was my identity,” Nicodemus continues, “I had wrapped myself up in this corporation, in this high-profile job making lots of money, and I identified with that title and with that lifestyle, so that was probably the hardest thing for me to let go of.”

In addition to the redefining of self, it has also been noted that becoming a minimalist may also place an individual as a part of the counterculture, possibly ostracizing and stigmatizing them to popular society.[4]

But minimalism will help you find happiness.

Despite any initial hardship, there are those who stand by their minimalist values, in synthesis with society at large and find happiness and advantages in the lifestyle once it’s been fully integrated into their day-to-day lives.

Benefits such as,

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  • Reduced decision fatigue.[5]
  • Freedom from fear, worry, and anxiety.[6]
  • Focus on the value of life.[7]

How to become a minimalist one step at a time?

Regardless of the initial separation anxiety that some may have about giving up some of their things, it seems that the existential trade-of can be enormously gratifying – should the individual seek a more spiritually abundant existent as opposed to the kind that we are faced with in every day life.

Though the extreme may not be for everyone, there are certain things that the average person can do, to get a taste of what it’s like to live with less.

  • You can start by assessing your belongings and considering what you may be able to live without.
  • Slowly begin to sell, donate, or throwaway items that you may not need or create useless clutter.
  • Once the clutter is gone, see what electronic devices that you could live without. (Most will find that a cellphone and/or laptop is sufficient enough).
  • Continue to assess the things in your life, that you may have little to no use for.
  • If you like the fresh abundance of freedom from the material things, think of downsizing, or simply try going a lengthy amount of time without buying in excess of what you need.

Embrace the change and discover the meaning of life.

If you’re willing to make the change, and attempt to downgrade your lifestyle -even incrementally, you may find yourself living a happier and overall healthier existence.

Don’t shy away in fear of change. Embrace what’s on the other side of what you’re accustomed to. Just one small change at a time, can lead you to discovering a whole new meaning to fulfillment in your life.

Reference

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Antwan Crump

Novelist, blogger, essayist, podcaster.

What Happens When Ego Closes Our Mind but We Aren’t Aware of It The Hardest Part of Being a Minimalist That Most People Have Overlooked 5 Ways to Beat Procrastination How to Survive the Holidays. 5 Productive Ways to Multitask

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems, why?

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

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The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

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The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

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It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

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For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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