Permission to let go

If you are a consistent reader of this blog, you probably know that I have been trying my hand at minimalism for the past six to eight months. Perhaps the biggest obstacle that I faced while I try to get rid of items is the emotional value of things.

Perhaps the shirt was gifted by a loved one.

That watch was presented to you by your best friend in school.

That house decor was bought by a dear colleague who comes home often.

That pair of shoes was gifted by your sister.

That display cabinet itself was a hand-me-down from a deceased relative.

Although we know it in our brain that these items do not necessarily add any value to your life, it is these items that are the toughest ones to get rid of.  It is a constant battle between the heart and the mind.

“What if my sister got upset that I got rid of the shoe?”

“That miniature tea set brings the memory of the trip to Beijing.”

“Am I am heartless person if I threw out a hand-me-down that belongs to my grand-uncle? Will he curse me from up there?”

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In case you are reducing your stuff, let me take the first step in making things easier for you. There could have been items that I gifted to you over the course of knowing you. Though I had given them with the best of intentions, I would totally understand if you decided to get rid of them as they do not add value to your life. I will not judge you for your act or be upset with you for discarding that gift. I sincerely hope that you do not equate me to the item as I would rather be seen as a person.

I give you permission to let go!

 

 

One Day

One day,

I will find an occasion to wear that suit.

I will find motivation to step out and try out that drone I bought.

I will risk getting the headache & use the VR device.

I will wear that Blue “Nehru” Jacket.

I will use the black formal shoe with laces that bites my foot each time I tie it tight.

I will feel comfortable to sleep in the loft bed room.

I will find courage to wear the pink shirt and prove to people I am not stereotypical.

I will put the laptop into the designated cover.

I will find a good spot to display the other clock in the house.

I will invite enough people to use up all the China wear at home.

I will care enough about client meetings to warrant a laptop bag instead of my casual one.

I will write something on that diary.

I will find use for the sticky notes.

I will expend all the rolls of toilet paper.

I will use up all my perfume.

I will go swimming again, wearing ‘the other’ shorts.

One day!

 

 

PS: Feel free to add your list of things you would do “One day” as a comment.If you list is longer, you could also guest blog here or post on your own blog and add the link as a comment on this post!

Why did the minimalist enter a H&M store?

Fell for the click bait dint you? Now that I have you here, let me tell you something useful.

H&M claims to be the leader in ethics and fast fashion. The second largest retailer of clothes in the world, after Zara’s, H&M has taken upon itself the task of being ethical. Their efforts include a pledge to use 100% recyclable or sustainable products by 2030  (Source: Goodonyou) and become 100% climate positive by 2040 (Source: Goodonyou).

“Ok, good to know.” “You still have not answered the question of why did the minimalist go to a H&M store?

The answer is………………………………………

 

 

To get a coupon.

“But, isn’t the coupon for buying things?”

Yes. The coupon gives one a 15% discount on any one H&M product. But you are forgetting the main question. ‘How did the minimalist get the coupon?’

“Ok, how did the minimalist get the coupon?”

The minimalist got the coupon, by giving up a bag of clothes. He gets a coupon for each bag of clothes that he donates.

“So, can I get a coupon for each bag? How big should the bag be? Do I have to segregate the items I give up? Can I just give up any clothes of mine?”

Ok, hang on. I love your enthusiasm, although I doubt whether it is because you want to give up stuff and become a minimalist or because you would love to get a hand on the 15% off coupon. Either ways, if it helps you get rid of your excess and unwanted clothes then it is a good deal.

“Err… off topic… can you cut to the answer please?”

Ok, so you get a coupon for each bag, irrespective of size. However you are limited to 2 coupons per person per day, so you might have to make more than one trip. You do not need to segregate items. Yes, you can give up any clothes of yours, no questions asked.

“That’s awesome. What do they do with the clothes I give up?”

I would like to say that they donate it to the needy. But it is still not clear whether they really donate the clothes or process them into other things that can use the cotton/materials as part of their sustainability initiatives.

“But I have hundreds of clothes to give up. Lets say, theoretically, If I gave those up and so too do all the people I know, does the world have enough people to want so many?”

Why don’t you take a guess! But like I said, I don’t have evidence or breakdown of how much they donate and how much they recycle.

“Not sure I got that. Can you explain?”

Appreciate the inquisitiveness. Hey, why don’t we look at a video and find out?

 

“Ok, so what did you buy? Wait, are you not a minimalist now?”

Dont worry, I am still a minimalist. But I give myself the permission to buy at H&M. Because it fits into my principles.

  1. For every new item, I can give up a bag full of unwanted clothes
  2. I can still look nice and be accepted socially
  3. Though I am paying a premium for the clothes, I am choosing a brand that feels good and lasts longer
  4. I am buying from an ethical company and feel good about it
  5. I don’t need a fifth reason!

“Give yourself permission” What is that?

That’s for another blog!!!

The race called LIFE

He stood by the window, with the hot cup of water in his hand, occupied by his thoughts. His eyes were looking at a distance, where a green hill kept the blue of sky at bay. As his eyes moved down, he could see the apartment opposite to his, with a swimming pool, running the length of the apartment, the blue color of its water giving it a calm and serene feel but for the ripples caused by its one inhabitant. The man had a unique way of swimming the freestyle, both mesmerizing and amusing at the same time, as every occasion that he moved his arms for a stroke, his legs stopped beating.

“Why would anyone want to swim midday in such hot conditions?” He questioned, taking a sip of the hot water and feeling the heat down his throat. “See, that is the problem. Who gave you the freedom to judge another person so easily? So what if he takes a dip in the middle of the day? It is his choice!”. That was his inner voice.

He took another sip and his eyes moved further down to the ground outside. It was almost a square, running about a hundred meters each side. The middle of the ground had a pathway that connected the roads on either side of the park. Though the pathway was wide enough for 5 people to walk next to each other, the overhead cover was built in a corner and could only accommodate 2 at a time. There was one man walking underneath, grateful for the shade that the cover provided.

He was deep in thoughts as a result of the movie he had just watched. There was some truth in what was told. The movie had ended with a story of a robot, that did not know what its purpose was, except to run. Though the robot ran, he had no clue what his race was for. He also did not aspire to be first, or anywhere near the top. All the robot wanted to do was keep running the race and be somewhere in the middle. To be socially accepted as normal. A few years later, the robot broke down and died.

The analogy was so similar to a story he had written about eight years back. It spoke about the futility of this generation and of life itself. A man was dropped from space, in the middle of nowhere and the only command in his head was to race. Where or why, he wasn’t supposed to ask or know. On the way he meets fellow runners, some of who are in sync with him for a while, becoming his friends whereas others running slower or faster were either looked down upon or looked up to. As time flew, he realized he could not run as fast as he before and instead of slowing down, he tries harder to impress, eventually losing his life!

Maybe his life at present wasn’t so far from his story. He was here, while his heart yearned to be with his wife and child, a thousand miles away.

He got distracted by the push message he received on his mobile. It was from Urban Ladder. He had installed the app this morning, getting tempted to look at bunk beds for kids and parents to be in the same room, a fantasy that he wanted to make real in a few years. “Who gave Urban Ladder the permission to send him the marketing message just few hours since installation? What kind of maniac marketing has the world moved on to, where one is forced, tempted and sometimes bullied to buy more?” He uninstalled the app, though he liked the beds. Let some crazy analyst figure map out this user’s intent!

Looking at the man that took a swim and the other that was walking alone in the park, he was tempted to venture out. But where? There was no one in the country that he wanted to meet. It was hot outside and he already had a sour throat which he did not want to mess with further by taking a swim. With these excuses in mind, he decided to take a shower instead.

“Here’s how things panned out. About two generations back, my grandfather decided to shift bases from his village to a city. Responsible man that he is, he started his company to make sure that he was providing for his family. Since he did not have one, his life’s purpose was to build a house so his kids did not have to undergo the fear of uncertainties that he had to endure during his life. He succeeded.

However, during the next generation, society moved on and the city grew bigger. Independent houses were rare to find and in their place, multitudes of apartments sprung up. Joint families were no longer the norm and my grandfather’s house had to be split among his many sons. So my father now could not have a whole house but a part of it. And hence earning to secure a house made sense for him. What made further sense was to earn a lot more to ensure that the future generations do not have to find life as difficult as it was for him or his father.

So my father did not just stop at buying one house. He went on to make further investments. He bought a lot of jewelry and stacked up a lot of money. He ran the race and accumulated a lot of wealth. Now, when he is at the end of his working career, he would like to pass on the wisdom to me. The wisdom of doing a job that pays well, to build more houses, buy more jewels, finances and insurances to secure the future.

The infatuation with owning your own house has now sent real estate prices so high that one needs to work 20 years to own his house. But by 10 years, the house is old and so one has to buy a newer and in most cases, bigger house.

The trouble with our mentality is that we all love to add wealth. More houses, more money, more things. But we never take a step back to say enough. We also never look to reduce. Even when we were kids, we were taught addition before subtraction. We struggled with the concept of subtraction so much that we would reverse engineer the question to be an addition problem – if I had 100 rupees and someone charged me 28 rupees for a tennis ball and gave me 62 rupees, did I get the right change? Eight out of ten of us would add 28 and 62 rather than subtract 28 from 100.

But does it not make sense to just rent a place rather than tie yourself in a long term loan? Am I better off trying to do the job that I love rather than the one that pays? What if owning the house does not seem like a worthy enough goal for me? What if the goals that were right for my father and grandfather did not make sense for me? Maybe Buddha would understand me, he had a lot which he ultimately gave up. My ten minutes of shower time is over. I need to go out”

My inner voice countered. “Why should I go out? The shower is stimulating my thoughts, I am in the middle of questioning my beliefs and values and trying to figure out what is important in my life. Why am I feeling this urge to leave the shower just because it has been ten minutes? Is it the social responsibility of conserving water? Is it the social conditioning of just having ten minutes to take bath? Is it the mind playing games and ordering me to think of anything but such deep thoughts about what matters in life?”

He gave himself two more minutes in the shower just to stroke the feelings of the rebel in himself. He felt the deep urge to voice his thoughts out to the world to get their opinion on what matters in life. And so he sat himself in the couch and started to type.

__________________________________________

“He stood by the window, with the hot cup of water in his hand, occupied by his thoughts. His eyes were looking at a distance, where a green hill kept the blue of sky at bay. As his eyes moved down, he could see the apartment opposite to his, with a swimming pool, running the length of the apartment, the blue color of its water giving it a calm and serene feel but for the ripples caused by its one inhabitant. The man had a unique way of swimming the freestyle, both mesmerizing and amusing at the same time, as every occasion that he moved his arms for a stroke, his legs stopped beating.”……………………..

How taking up minimalism helped me get better at pool

I have been consciously practicing minimalism for over six months now. However I still have difficulties defining to others what minimalism is. Perhaps the most commonly used explanation for minimalism is getting rid of things that do not add value to one’s life.

My pursuit of minimalism did not just stop with getting rid of things. As soon as I was done downsizing my things, I began to wonder what the next step of minimalism could be – Can I minimalise my online activity? Can I minimalise at work?  Can I minimalise my habits? Can I minimalise my food intake and lead a healthier life? Can I minimalise the thoughts in my head? I can positively say minimalising is addictive. Here’s why.

It is addictive as the benefits are rewarding and almost immediate. As I began minimizing my clothes, I spent lesser time getting ready, meaning I slept more. My shelves magically became larger as I now could keep my clothes on hangers and not need to fold and stack them up. I stacked up all of my houseowner’s kitchenware in one corner and removed some of the ‘utilities’ that were not living up to their names. Voila, I had less items to clean & arrange!

Perhaps the one benefit I did not imagine in my wildest dreams was how minimalism helped me become a better player at pool. While I was thinking on more avenues where I could apply this change in my frame of mind, I thought to myself,

“What if, I halved the speed of my shots?”

Within a game or two, I realized I was able to strike the ball with higher accuracy compared to before. With higher accuracy, I was more efficient in disposing off the balls.

Another advantage was that with lesser power on the shot, I was able to predict where the cue ball would end up post each shot and hence plan ahead to my next shot.

Minimalism has proved once again that more can be achieved with less!

 

Disclaimer: For all purposes, I am only a novice at pool. Until very recently, the closest I got to being professional was when playing pool was “a state of mind” 🙂 So take my advice with a pinch, actually, a lot of salt!

Book Review – Everything that remains

 

Author – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

There are some books that you read where you would not want them to end. ‘Everything that remains’ is one that made me feel so. The book is more a memoir by the author, Joshua, on how he chanced about the concept of minimalism and the impact that it had on his life. We are given the opportunity to be an invisible bug on Joshua’s shoulder and live through various moments in his life.

 

Although Joshua would like to become a writer, he is stuck in his full-time job as director of operations at a retail chain in the US. With daily stand-up meetings and aggressive goals to achieve, he is forever busy and under constant stress. He has no friends outside of work & no time to build his social network. His last exercise was sometime during college and he is quite a few pounds overweight. However, the hefty paycheck during the end of month makes all his sacrifices seem worthwhile.

 

Or does it?

 

He does not love his job but stays on as he is good at it. Being the youngest director in the history of the company, he is constantly pushing himself to over-deliver. He is on the fast track in life and there are higher positions to achieve.

 

And of course, there are bills to pay. He is a firm favorite for all credit card companies, a collector of books, home decors, suits, party wear shirts, summer shirts, winter clothes, x-mas sales, Easter sales, valentines day sales, home loans, car loans etc etc. In fact, his bills total more than his earnings.

 

But alas, the hike in salary that he will get during his next title change will offset the difference!

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

Joshua is in a meeting when he gets a call from his mother. As expected, he puts his mobile on silent. It is only in the evening that he hears her voicemail and gets to know that she is dying of cancer.

 

A few months and few visits later, Joshua’s mom dies. In the same month, his marriage of five years ends. This double tragedy completely rocks his life. He realizes that he has messed up life’s priorities. Is working hard and rising up the corporate ladder the most important priority in life? Is it your life’s purpose to amass a ton of stuff and possessions to display to the world to gain their appreciations and acceptance into their society?

 

The quest for answers leads Joshua to something life changing – Minimalism.

 

Read the book to learn about how he went about becoming a minimalist and how he managed to sustain a life without a five-figure income,with only a tenth of his possessions, meet great and interesting people , write and publish books & fall in love. As you read on, you might even question some of your choices in life, work and beyond.

 

 

 

PS: If you want the ebook for free, below is how you get it.

Everything That Remains and Minimalism—available as a free PDF for our audience. If you want to read either (or both), simply go to our Gumroad page, enter $0 in the price box, and download the book(s) of your choice. 

If you’d prefer to purchase a book, both titles are available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats here.

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My ‘other’ pair of shoes

“Hey man, can you believe it has been five years already since this?” It was a message from Chirag. Yeah, we had kept in touch.

The picture was one of us five friends standing on a wall with Edinburgh beach at the background. Besides being a sweet pic, one realization struck me the most. The absence of colors in our dresses.

That got me thinking.

Kiran: My best friend for life. He was wearing a pink(ish) jacket, yet not looking gay. Always the giver & ringmaster. He isn’t in the pic because he was the one organizing us for the pose & taking the picture.

 

The rest of us, in order.

Kathir: He wore black. He always wore black. Super fun to be with. He is one of those that can make you cry, or cry out of laughter if he decides to make fun of anyone.

Chirag: Powerful eyes, he gave you the impression of a serious guy. But wasn’t. Don’t remember what color jacket he wore.

Sanket: Laddoo. A funny, plump guy. We did not keep in touch, no apparent reason why.

Me: I think I wore a grey jacket. Bought for 8 pounds. A wise purchase that lasted 4 years.

Mayuri: A sweet girl. Fun to be with, unassuming. I don’t remember what she wore as well.

 

The more I think back, I remember a lot of events and people that have been memorable. However, what they wore has never really stood out to me. They were all different. Sure, they had their own style which was unique. But then, they were all the same – I liked them for the person that they were, not what they wore that day.

 

Hence the question, “What do I do with this other pair of shoes that I have had for years but seldom wore?” Have I given it too much importance? Does it deserve the space in my rack? If not, does the shoe rack deserve as much space as it currently occupies?

Keen to know your thoughts!

 

 

PS: The reference to pair of shoes is a metaphysical one. It could be replaced by any item that you consider to be a ‘spare’ or ‘back up’

The Joy of Less – A book review

As a reader of this blog, I am sure you already know that I am smitten by the minimalism bug. For those of you who do not know yet what minimalism is, it is the concept of owning less things through intentional living in a manner that we only indulge in those that add value to our lives.

Ever since my tryst with minimalism, I have taken some measures to simplify my life:

  1. I reduced the number of shirts I use, frankly because I hated ironing them. I now have a white shirt and a black one for formal occasions and one shirt that I use for more social occasions. I have switched to wearing T shirts to work. Trust me, they are far more comfortable.
  2. I am giving away some devices that have just been sitting at home, unused. Hope they find better use than they did at my place.
  3. I packed up unused items provided by my house owner and stored them away in a far away place. My kitchen now has a bit more space for the regularly used items to dock themselves.
  4. I have setup a blocker in my browser that limits my social networking time to 10 minutes during a work hours. Though my productivity has not improved, I am writing more often as my mind is less cluttered by news feeds of others’ activities.
  5. I have also spent considerable time unsubscribing from various emails, disabled pop-ups from various news/sports apps and even whatsapp. Though “phantom vibrations”  were felt from time to time, the withdrawal is now complete and I don’t feel the urge to check my mobile every 10 minutes.
  6. With the free time I got, I am now able to devote more attention to things I love – Solving those 1000 pieces puzzles and actually reading a few books

Now that I could see more benefits of living an intentional life, I wanted to take the next steps in minimalism. This was when I came across “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay being mentioned quite often as one of the best books on living a minimalist life.

I found the tone of the book to be pretty light and breezy to read. It felt more like the author was talking to me rather than writing to me. This helps to make things fun and also keep my mind open to the ideas being suggested.

The book starts off with some philosophy about minimalism and why one should embrace it. For someone that was already sold on the concept, this served as positive reinforcement to the benefits of minimalism.

 

Next was a framework to minimize your stuff. This laid some basis on how to go about decluttering things from your house and also ensuring that things stay the same way post the process. I liked the way Francine brought to our attention, some of the methods through which stuff accumulates without our knowledge.

The concept of having circles to describe the placement of things around oneself makes a lot of sense. The inner circle would be those that one uses daily, the second circle would be those that we use often but not on a daily basis and the outer circle would be those that can be kept away for longer periods of time but still cannot be completely removed.

And the rest, you have permission to let go!

But wait, Francine gives you suggestions about what to do with these excess. There are many ways to dispose off them which can ensure that they find better homes or owners and also do not damage the environment with our excessive dumping.

Overall I feel that this book is a good read for those who want exposure to minimalism and are looking for ways to declutter their homes. Though the book speaks about issues we face, going from room, once can choose to pick the sections that concern them.

One aspect that I feel was completely neglected was applying minimalism to people’s digital exploits. The book was very focused on decluttering physical  objects that there was, pardon the irony, less room to discuss meta-physical decluttering.

To follow Francine Jay please visit – http://www.missminimalist.com/

Feel free to comment 🙂

Stayfocused in, Gmail Out – Increase productivity, reduce distractions.

Ok, one month into trying minimalism & simplifying my life, I have been making significant strides. For starts, I have felt bored more often in the past two weeks than I ever can remember. I am creating free time, which is good.

I am also through 300 pages of the first ever book I read since Harry Potter!

While minimalism at home makes sense, I have realized there is much more than physical objects that clog up our lives and work. My major breakthrough has been in using the chrome extension called “Stayfocused”. This app allows you to add websites that you are addicted to and allocate only few minutes to them per day after which they are blocked off on your device.

I have used this for the past couple of weeks and almost stopped looking at Facebook, goal.com, bbc sports and a few more of the sites I am addicted to. I now have the choice of channeling the additional time towards work or writing.

Though Facebook has taken a large amount of bashing for being unproductive, I also believe we need to look at another deterrent – GMAIL. When was the last time, you got a personal email on this platform?

For me, it was about 6 months ago. Yet I have not only had the app installed on my phone, also allowed it to auto sync continuously but also allowed it to throw up a prompt for every new email.

Over the past week, I have unsubscribed to all marketing emails. For those that do not allow me to unsubscribe (WTF man!!), I have created a rule to mark them as read. I have also muted the mail app and turned off the Autosync. I have experienced peace!

You can try this out too 😊

 

 

 

Feel free to comment some tips to increase productivity.