Monthly Archives: September 2013
The world is big. Much bigger than any of us can understand. From the bottom of the oceans to the tallest mountains, it is impossible for us to see or understand it all in one lifetime. And why would you want to? To understand everything in this world would be to live a life of predictable disappointment. It is the mystery of adventure and the unknown which excites me. Going out the door with my packed bag into the unfamiliar areas of the world. Opportunity is knocking and you can open any type of door you choose. Don’t lock yourself off. Hiding behind your own metaphysical cement and doubt. Experience the world you want and by your own making.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
You do not have to travel far to find the unknown. It is right outside your door. Take a bike ride down a road you have never explored. Take a weekend trip on a whim. Walk the streets you usually drive. Simple moments close to home can be more exciting than you think, depending on how you are willing to look at things. The picture above is but 30 minutes away from where I live at the moment. There are amazing places outside everyone’s back door. But we become short sighted by what we perceive as typical. Our day-to-day surroundings become nothing but old rotating pictures. People close their minds and forget the moment they live in. Always looking forward. Always thinking of the next best thing. Life shouldn’t be seen as a game of chess where one move dictates another. Where there are better and more clever players. Knock that board off the table and create your own game where you’re in control of all the moves.
It is important to have big moments in your life that you are looking forward to, but making them your sole focus is wasteful of time and energy. Be in the moment where you are and then set aside time to specifically focus on those projects. Maybe you want to get married one day. If that is the case then put effort into that goal when time affords but don’t forget to be yourself and do the things which make you happy. That is why people were drawn to you in the first place. If you put all of your effort into one thing then when you finally arrive at the destination you may feel lost and empty. The same thing goes for people who put all their effort into getting that big promotion and then they finally achieve their goal at 46 years old. Then what? You’ve arrived. But where do you go from there?
Don’t let your life be a culmination to one point but a sequence of enjoyable events where your true ambitions are represented. People work jobs and live lives they don’t like for reasons they could never justify objectively. We are all guilty of doing things we don’t enjoy. But if you are not enjoying large sections of your daily life then make that change. Figure out what you would like to be doing one year from now, five years from now? Write it down so it seems more solid. Then get to work in your spare time. Your life is a piece of art. Mould it in ways that are inwardly stimulating and outwardly fulfilling.
I am trying to say that if you make a conscious effort to be yourself you will achieve all your goals in life over time. On your own terms. Not by someone else’s schedule. Not by some predetermined cultural timeline. We stress ourselves out so much over what we are ‘supposed’ to be doing at this or that point in our lives. Forget it. Why listen to someone else about what you should be doing with your life? It is yours. You are the only one who knows what feels right. So do whatever weird and wonderful things make you yourself. Do them well and don’t look back. Explore, experience and make your own beautiful world.
We are all reflections of our actions. Therefore, deciding which ones you want to represent yourself is important. It’s not important in terms of trying to impress other people. It is simply for your own self-satisfaction. You shouldn’t be doing this for anyone other than yourself. By partaking in as many or few activities that make you content is where you develop a personality you can be proud of.
Forget what other people think. If someone is critically judging you then their not worth your time. If I really cared what people thought then I would be no where near as happy as I am with where I am in my life and where I am going. Don’t be careless with it but understand that if you keep close to you the actions which are truly dear then everything else will be alright. You’ll stop doing things you hate and enjoy more of the moments in-between.
“If you limit your actions in life to those that nobody can possibly find fault with, then you won’t do much” – Lewis Carroll
You are in control. From the time you wake up, until you go to bed you are in charge of your actions. To make the most or as little of your day as possible. To get out there in the real world and see what is happening or stay at home and lounge. I’m not knocking on lounging, we all need to do it from time to time. But no one remembered someone because they were great at sitting around watching bad tv. Are you more likely to remember that day you went on a little adventure or sat at home feeling bored or killing time. We all don’t need to be heroes, but it is important to feel good at the end of the day. You will sleep better as you move forward to the next one.
Sometimes having the motivation to get out there and be apart of the world is influenced by circumstance. I live on a tropical island, where most of my time off is littered with beautiful sunny weather. If I am ever inside at home on one of those days I feel incredibly guilty and have to convince myself to get out there. In either case we all know when we are being unnecessarily lazy. My time is limited and so is yours, I’m sorry to say.
This final section is not so much about minimizing your lifestyle, but limiting your actions to a point where you are acting in a way which is reflective of the persona you truly want to exude. Doing the things you want to do. Finding your happy state through being alive in the moment. If you don’t like certain parts of your personality then look into why you feel that way. If you complain too much and don’t listen enough, fix it. If you would like to travel more, don’t just talk about it, act on it. Dating a person who makes you unhappy, talk to them or make a change. If watching re-runs on tv doesn’t excite you anymore, find a hobby that does. Do the things you enjoy doing and do them well.
You are a collection of your actions, the things you keep and the people you call close ones. Put them all together and decide who you want to be.
Imagine one day saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to everyone you love. Shipping off to the other side of the world. You know no one, you have no one and you are forced to start over. Just simply start. Who are the people you would choose to start with? Who are the people who represent your interests and goals?
Being thrown into this situation is quite freeing and daunting at the same time. You find out a lot about yourself and the people you choose to associate yourself with. By living on the other side of the world, you also find out who is truly important to you. The people you choose to stay in contact with and the people who value you. The ones who ask questions, send updates and frankly give a damn. Then you come home and it is easy to find the people who are deserved of your time. Don’t waste your breath on plugged ears.
By looking at your home from an outsiders perspective you can see who matters. It is amazing the people we clutter our lives up with. No one should keep friends because of situation. Go out and meet new people. There are over 7 billion of us. Everyone may not be to your personal liking or taste. But everyone is of someone’s interest. If you’re doing it, then there is likely someone else who is doing it as well. Find them, seek them out and befriend your new world. The world is full of amazing and diverse populations. Don’t limit yourself by circumstance. I have grown so much since living abroad and continually meeting new people from all over. It’s amazing what you can find out from simply saying ‘Hello”.
Ask questions. Life shouldn’t be a monologue. It should be a rolling and enjoyable interview of sorts. A lot of us are afraid to approach this person or that because we fear rejection. Rejection is one of the most perverse fears. It stops us acting before we even start. Go talk to that person standing idle at the bar. Give the guy with a neat shirt a thumbs up. If you see someone doing something awesome, tell them. They’ll all appreciate it. By doing so and meeting numerous people you expand your personal repertoire. Indecision is further away. You will know who you should be spending your time with. I’m not saying cut everyone you don’t care for out of your life, but give them the same attention they deserve.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.” Hans Hoffman
We are only here for a short time, so why spend it with people who don’t make you happy. Who don’t have your best decisions in mind. At the bottom of ourselves the thing we are all looking for is happiness. Be with those who make you feel this way. If you don’t have them in your life, then go to places that are of interest to you and you will find them. Shake their hand, hear their story, share yours and don’t fear rejection. You can be as invisible as you make yourself. Share your talents with the world. With the people who matter in your heart. You are your own game changer if your not content with the people who you associate yourself with.
Be proud of your identity and others will follow you. Have as many people in your life as your attention deserves. Your smiles shouldn’t be limited, but many. Now go out and show that you care.
In part 3 I will discuss the notion of minimizing your ‘actions’. How your actions should reflect your personal goals and passions in relation to the people you associate with and the items you keep. Until next time.
Minimalism is the act for reducing the unnecessary aspects of life which hinder your general day to day contentment. The following three posts will address issues surrounding Things, People and Actions. By looking at your life from a perspective where you are free from many of the pieces which hold you back from achieving new modes of self-awareness is completely freeing.
Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu said, “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
On the topic of limiting the physical things in your life it is the first and easiest method of minimalism. In western societies our homes are full of things. Our houses and apartments are packed with physical objects that we all ‘need’. We are bombarded by a lifestyle where we need this new car or that phone upgrade to be happy. However, now more than ever the items in people’s lives are growing and happiness is remaining stagnant or depreciating.
We live in a society where fear sells. A pill for every ill. Conspicuous consumption and the next best thing. It has been a progression throughout the evolution of capitalism. It is my belief that we are living in a society which is becoming increasingly controlled by the need for more and has declining self-respect. Our values are skewed to a degree. We are conditioned from a young age to want with little effort. A child kicking and screaming in a toy store isle is not far off of a middle aged adult who continually maxes out different credit cards in order to achieve momentary happiness. The result is a growing population of consumers who are marketed lives of pre-decision and were buying into it. Both with our wallets and actions.
Now hypothetically consider coming home one day to your home and finding that everything you own is gone. There is nothing left. You are forced to start over. Where would you begin? For anyone who has ever had a fire or experienced a natural disaster this is a very real experience. But it is here that you can see who you are and what you value. As humans we feel greater emotion from losing something then the act of having it. On a smaller scale consider packing your life into a few bags and shipping off to unknown parts of the world. The less you travel with the more you appreciate the things you have. I have gotten better and better with traveling light. When traveling by plane I never check a bag. Just the essentials. You begin to limit the items which are no longer a necessity. It also makes traveling more interesting. Invest your money in a few items of quality which allow you conduct your business and maintain your lifestyle. Your objects should not define who you are. You are your own definition.
So go look about your house and consider all of the things you do not need. The majority of people living in the world do not have storage closets, so get rid of all of that. All of that furniture you had to have. The CD and movie collections. The closets full of clothes. Drawers of old pens. Basements and crawl spaces heaped to the rafters from a lifetime of incessant collecting. Each thing representing a moment in time. They are only things, so get rid of them. Find value in your experiences and memories. Spend your money on these moments in time instead.
George Clooney says in the movie ‘Up In the Air’ regarding all of the things in our life stuffed into a backpack that, “We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake moving is living.” Choose the few things that are important to you. Make them count, but don’t let them become your identity. You will be much happier for it.
I’m not saying you should get rid of all the things in your home and sleep on an air mattress. I’m saying you should rid yourself of the things which clutter up your life and take away from your ability to be the kind of person you can feel proud of. In western societies we live in castles we call homes and fill them with duplicating items of televisions and furniture in order to satiate the empty spaces of our own personal shortcomings. I find it is easy to sometimes get caught up in this type of consumption when I return home to visit. However, when I am out in the world where my experiences and memories are what define me, I am less apt to fall into that trap. I know my motivations. Living abroad helps you understand the unnecessary act of filling your life up with things. Define yourself on your actions, how you carry yourself and what makes you content. Items come and go but your experiences are forever. Once you get down to your true goals and aspiration you can begin to throw out the physical trash in your life.
Next time I will discuss how to project your true identity through the people you choose to interact with.