I was laying in my bed last night watching a Netflix documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things.
It was about two very average men doing extraordinary things. They were traveling the United States teaching people how to live a more meaningful life, through Minimalism.
Minimalism is the practice of living with less and in turn living a fuller life.
I must admit, the Minimalists featured on the show were a little peculiar -- living in homes that appeared completely vacant; save for a bed with no frame, a lamp and a chair.
There were no paintings on the walls. Only a dozen articles of clothing were in their closets. Any sort of home decor was nowhere to be found. The most of any one thing was white space. A substantial amount of white barren walls that made everything feel empty.
During the first 10 minutes of the documentary, I was scratching my head. I felt sorry for these individuals, imagining how bored they had to be with next to no possessions.
During the last 10 minutes of the documentary, I was cleaning out my closet of all the unnecessary shit I hadn't worn in over a year.
Wait... is Cole about to go full minimalist? Fuck no. I love paintings and pretty pictures. I love comfy blankets and artfully hand-crafted furniture. I love collecting all the books the universe will allow me to buy.
BUT, this peculiar duo, these salt of the Earth men known as The Minimalists got me thinking... Could I live with less? Am I placing too much happiness in material goods?
I started to ponder if all the possessions I had accumulated over the years made me feel fuller or emptier. I looked to areas in my life where I could apply minimalism on a smaller scale. What I found is what I am sharing with you today.
5 Mini Ways to Apply Minimalism to Your Life
1. Delete One of Your Social Media Accounts
I am currently active on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Medium and LinkedIn. The thought of deleting just one of my social media accounts gives me horrible anxiety. I think a part of this can be attributed to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
If I delete my Twitter will I be missing out on all the cool shit happening in the Twittersphere? Delete Snapchat? But, what if my little pup Luckers does that cute thing? You know... where she rolls over on her back and looks like a Himalayan Mountain Alpaca calf? Who is going to document that? No, I can't do it... I simply can't deprive the world of happiness because of this fucked up Minimalist way of thinking! Go to hell!
Okay, so let's say you physically can't delete your social media accounts. Then limit checking your social media to three times daily -- 9 a.m. + 1 p.m. + 7 p.m.
If you can't physically do this for at least a week, then it is time to see a therapist, that is not a joke.
Practice minimalism digitally, by minimizing the time you spend in your digital life.
2. Practice Minimalism in Intimacy
We tend to over complicate our intimate relationships. I see this most often in college relationships. A couple attempt to fill a void between the two of them with drama, fighting, sex and alcohol.
Samantha and Chuck are clearly not compatible with one another. If they were a sandwich they would be a Grilled Cheese and Peanut Butter. Have you ever had a Grilled Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich? Of course you haven't. It is nonexistent for the sole fact that it doesn't work and probably tastes like shit.
Anyways, Sam and Chuck attempt to forget about their Grilled Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich compatibility by fighting, a lot. They fight about how Chuck downloaded Tinder again. They fight about how Sam gave out her number to a guy at the bar the other night. They Fight about how Chuck always wants to have sex. They fight about how Sam never wants to have sex. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Until one day, they wake up and realize ... Fuck, maybe we are a Grilled Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich?
The take away from all this banter? Your intimate relationships should feel minimal, they should feel simple and they should be easy.
I think testing minimalism in relationships is as simple as grabbing coffee with your significant other. You should be able to grab coffee with your girlfriend on a Saturday morning and not want to be anywhere else in the world.
If you can't do this, just grab coffee alone. Life is simpler that way.
3. Buy a Used Car Versus a New Car
The average price of a new car is $31,252. It immediately drops to $27,814 as soon as you drive it off the lot -- losing 11% of its value.
Lesson -- buy used cars until you've made it. By making it I mean, you can afford to buy 3 cars if you want to, but you are practicing minimalism by just buying 1.
Don't be the recent grad that makes $35,000 a year and buys a brand new $30,000 car. Yes, you can afford the monthly car payment, but seriously?
Minimalism can be practiced in the big purchases throughout your lifetime, like vehicles and houses. You will find there is a lot to be loved in a $10,000 used car that has a little character.
Don't believe me? Check out this list of Coolest Classic Cars Under $10,000.
Pick up your girlfriend or boyfriend in a 1962 Volvo Amazon and see if they don't give you road dome.
4. Force Yourself to Live Paycheck to Paycheck
How much money do you make a week in after-tax income? Write it down. Multiply that number by .25. Write it down. Look at it. Start taking that number out of every paycheck and place it in savings.
Force yourself to live with 25% less, then 30% less, then 50% less.
No this isn't personal finance advice, that shit is stupid. This is teaching you how to live with less so that you can see all the wonder in the smaller things in life -- all the things that money can't buy.
5. Stop Going to The Bars Every Fucking Weekend
I am talking to you, Cole.
So, I am going to the bars tonight, because we are nearing in on Christmas and all my friends are in town. This means there are drinks to be drank, laughs to be laughed, good times to be had and high-kicks to be executed.
But this is the last time for a while, dammit. The last time! After this, no more.
In all seriousness, look at the pleasures in your life that you do frequently -- drink, smoke, eat, etc. Slow down on those things. There is a misconception that minimalism only applies to tangible goods, this is incorrect.
Minimalism can be applied to any sort of consumption. If you consume anything good for too long, it begins to lose what makes it good in the first place.
Play your favorite song on repeat for a day. Do you still like it? I didn't think so.
If You Don't Love It, Simply Don't Partake
After watching Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things, I am still going to consume more than I should.
I am going to keep spending too much money on coffee each month. I will never think twice about dropping $40 on sushi for dinner with my girlfriend, because I love sushi and she loves sushi. And honestly, the world is just a better happier place when people are eating and loving sushi.
Anyways, what I am trying to say is this post wasn't mean to deter you from spending money on and buying the things you love. It was created to help you think twice about buying the stuff you like or just kind of like.
Ask yourself -- Is this purchase, this relationship or this experience going to bring me fulfillment? If not, just don't partake. It is that simple.