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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

More by this author

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 March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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