You Know Yourself Best

via Unsplash

If you’re like most healthy individuals in the modern world, you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by people who for the most part, mean well. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, cashiers, the list goes on.

And whenever you get out there and share something about yourself with anyone, whether it’s what you plan to do for the day, where you plan to vacation next, what car you want to buy, who you plan to date, I’m willing to bet that whoever you share your little life tidbit with, that person will always offer an opinion, regardless of whether or not you’ve asked for one.

We are so quick to judge that we don’t even ask ourselves before speaking whether or not our opinion is warranted. Most of the time, we just want our voices to be heard and understood.

But of course, you will ruminate over it, at least a little bit, more so if this person has more stake in your well-being – coaches, parents, spouses, and children come to mind – or if this person has been in a similar situation before. Sometimes it’s convenient to let someone else decide your fate for you. Just let ourselves be blown by the wind, wherever it may take us.

People will always tell you what they think or what they would do if they were you. But they are not you. You are you.

You’ve lived at least a handful of years on this planet (if you’re reading this blog, anyway), and while you will not always make decisions that work out in your favor in the end, it’s more unfair to your acquaintances to place the burden of your fate on them. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t uneducated decisions. You should certainly do the best you can to recognize and acknowledge risks. And you should know that you are an ever-evolving, always dynamic, never entirely settled human being. In all likelihood, you’ll have different tastes, different dreams, and different friends over the course of your lifetime.

There is a reason why the top regret of the dying is not having lived the life true to oneself rather than the life that was expected. The social pressure we are subjecting ourselves just might not be worth the cost of regretting how we lived.

We must take responsibility for ourselves without forcing the burden of the consequences upon someone else. That is how we learn and, perhaps, in the scurry for a fulfilling life, reach a place of personal enlightenment.

Minimalism is  journey that is best undertaken with the support of fellow minimalists, as it is a concept not well understood by those who have not experienced it. But you are the only one who can decide if it is right for you. I write this as a way of supporting that journey, but you are always free to choose another path.

Knowing that, I hope, is freeing.

Minimalism is Freedom from Dependency

Via Pexels

Like others before me, I began to pursue minimalism and simple living when I felt that my life was becoming overwhelming. The mantra of simplifying and decluttering played over and over in my head. I gradually simplified, and over time, I realized some unforeseen benefits. One way to think of minimalism is reducing dependency on certain things, expectations, or activities. Consider the following examples:

  • I need my morning coffee to stay awake.
  • I am dissatisfied with my car. It gets me from A to B, but I want it to look cooler and accelerate faster.
  • My engagement ring must be a one carat diamond.
  • My wedding must be at this destination and my dress must look a certain way.
  • My purse must be a certain brand.
  • I can’t leave the house without putting on makeup.
  • I must add sugar or honey to my tea for it to be palatable.
  • I need to do dry cleaning once per month.
  • I am not satisfied with my evening unless I’ve had dessert.

When I add so many expectations to my life, I am less efficient. More of my time is sucked up due to an unnecessarily picky standard of living that actually makes my life more difficult. Superfluous life restrictions forced me to conform myself to a standard that wasn’t representative of true happiness – things that essentially made my lifestyle too high maintenance. I was more stressed, more busy, and less productive.

In a way, there is some irony to this, because minimalists do have a standard, one that they adhere to very stringently. That standard is whether or not an item or expectation is aligned with intentional living. Some expectations do not add any value whatsoever or add to our overall happiness. We buy things in anticipation of happiness, but too often, they are not sustainable lifestyles and don’t actually make us happier.

As you declutter and simplify, ask yourself this question.

“By getting rid of this item or expectation, what am I freeing myself from?”

And on the subject of freedom, Happy Memorial Day!