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Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle

Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle

Last week, Andrew Hyde made headlines after doing an interview with ABC Radio News.

If you aren’t familiar with Andrew Hyde, he’s a technology mogul and consultant. Like many in his field, he’s constantly on the move, working out of New York and Silicon Valley in equal measure. He is also the founder of Startup Weekend, and organizer of the TEDxBoulder conference. He mentors young companies and is working on a new business venture that will create art out of discarded vinyl records.

Sounds like a pretty typical business professional, right? Well, Hyde does have one other claim to fame that sets him apart from his competition.

Andrew Hyde only owns 15 things.

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Hyde is intentionally homeless. After leaving his job as community organizer for the New York-based start-up incubator TechStars, he sold all of his posessions and decided to travel the world. And for Hyde, everything is coming up roses.

Minimalism is something I’ve been intrigued by for years. In fact, one of my first posts here at Lifehack was about 100-item minimalism. And while I’m making a concerted effort to through the clutter in my own life, paring down all my belongings to 100 items is something I’m not sure I could ever achieve, let alone the incredible challenge of selecting just 15 items to live on. So one has to wonder…just what 15 items would you choose to live with?

In this picture of Hyde, you can see him and all his worldly possessions. In addition to the clothes on his back, you’ll see two pieces of outerwear, some workout clothes, an orange backpack, a pair of socks, a pair of sunglasses, a phone, a laptop, and a few other sundry items. In other words, everything he needs for a tech job on the go. (You can read the full list of Hyde’s belongings circa 2010 here.)

And while not having a permanent home certainly helps to limit the number of possessions a person can have (unless you’re investing in a long-term storage unit), just 15 items seems crazy to most people, especially to anyone who likes fashion and wants to have more than 1 pair of shoes.

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But it’s worth remembering that just because you don’t own any given item doesn’t mean that you can’t ever access one, should you need it. The larger your network of friends is, the fewer items you need to own. You can always borrow what you don’t own from friends or colleagues, whether it’s a suit for a formal occasion, a casserole dish for cooking dinner for your in-laws, or even a whole house while your friends are on vacation.

And while you might think that there are just some things a person can’t live without, there are decent alternatives for most of them.

Cooking basics like pots and pans aren’t needed if you are traveling and either eating out for every meal, staying in a hotel, or staying in accommodations provided to you by your employer.

You don’t need furniture if you don’t have a home or apartment.

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You don’t need a TV or a cable box to watch your favorite shows, as long as you have a laptop. Same goes for video games, books, and magazine subscriptions.

And think of the savings. No car payments, no mortgage, no cable or utility bills. Without those burdens, you could probably afford to go our to dinner every night and travel extensively.

So how would you go about paring down all your belongings to just 15 items? For Andrew Hyde, it was a slow process: “I started with my clothing basics: 2 shirts, 1 pant, 1 short, 1 sandals, 1 sunglasses and underwear. I added a few ‘must haves’ for me like an iPad and camera. I added a backpack, toiletries kit, towel, and a few random things (pen, connector cable, chargers) and tried it out. After five weeks of the trip, there is more that I have not used in the bag than there is in the bag.”

Socrates once said, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” For a guy who lives with only 9 pounds worth of personal belongings, Andrew Hyde is living a Socratic ideal that meshes surprisingly well with our modern perceptions of what a person needs to be happy.

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Could you ever live with just 15 items? What 15 things would you choose? Tell us in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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Tucker Cummings

Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for You? The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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