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  1. #1
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    Minimalist living

    I had been doing the minimal footprint thing before, but this weekend I really tried to pare my belongings down to the bare essentials. I went through each thing I owned and asked if it was truly essential. If not I threw it out or gave it away. I ended up getting rid of most of my stuff, including most of my furniture. I was pretty gung-ho about this: do I really need more than 2 forks? Nope. Do I really need a chair? Nope, exercise ball will do. Do I really need about 80% of my clothing? Nope, probably won't wear it ever. Shampoo/soap/etc? Haven't had that stuff in months. Microwave? No way! I'm so glad I got rid of that thing. The hardest part was the bookshelf. But I made myself give away any book I haven't read, or read and didn't feel was truly epic. I only have about 20 books now but each one has changed my life in some way.

    So after this purge, all I own in the world is:

    1)two suitcases of clothing
    2)inflatable bed with pillow and comforter
    3)soup pot, utensils & dishes for 2, detergent, sponge
    4)desk, lamp
    5)phone, laptop
    6)free weights, pullup bar, exercise ball
    7)toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, towels, toilet paper, hamper
    8)frozen meat + veggies, eggs, butter, coconut oil
    9)some books
    10)stethoscope, ID badge, pens, USB drive
    11)vacuum


    That's it! I feel so clean and pure after getting rid of my excess stuff. I feel like this kind of living is in the Primal spirit, after all, Grok had to move from place to place and probably was no hoarder. Wondering if there are any other minimalists or like-minded people here?
    Last edited by dizzyorange; 01-08-2013 at 11:41 PM.

  2. #2
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    We lived in an RV (travel trailer) for 9 months and did a very similar thing, though not quite as minimally as you are since we're a family of 4. We pared down a lot but didn't completely liquidate our belongings though, just stored them. We've been back in a regular house for almost 6 months and are itching terribly for the lifestyle again. I was so horribly overwhelmed by all the things and stuff everywhere when we first moved back in--why in the world did we feel the need for all of that stuff? I'm still wearing the same daily clothes that I did in the RV (about a small suitcase worth), so why do I have the big dresser and closet full? I'm using all the same kitchen ware, so why do I have all these big gadgets or extra pans? And so on... Our plan next time (in a few years) is to have an estate sale and get rid of everything before we move into an RV again and hit the road.

  3. #3
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    I've done the minimalist thing too so I'm not judging, but I think it can end up being a mental disorder no different than hording for a lot of people. Perhaps for different reasons, but just as debilitating.

    One of my best friends bought a condo after he got his first good job. For a long time he wouldn't invite anyone to his home. When he finally relented he had been living there for over 10 years. His entire furniture was a bare mattress on the floor in one room. His list would go something like this:

    1) two sets of clothing (he said he had two pairs of jeans and a handful of shirts)
    2) bare twin mattress
    3) laptop
    4) toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, towel, toilet paper
    5) Old oak wall unit which he said his parents gave him when he was 14.... it was donated to goodwill not long after.

    No cooking equipment, nothing he enjoyed having, just the bare minimum needed to keep going through the motions of life. He could've packed everything except the mattress in a compact car...thinking about it, probably into a single large suitcase.

    He was making decent money (north of $70k in the 1990s) and could afford more, but he had this minimalism condition working against him. It wound up interfering with his life. He was embarrassed to have guests over to his home, he couldn't have hobbies because... well... just as one example, learning to play a musical instrument requires one to keep a musical instrument around for months at a time, and that would cause a minimalism flare-up. I always found it very sad and made an effort to coax him into a more healthy equilibrium.

    When I moved from CA to TX I could easily fit everything I brought into a smallish SUV, and I slept on air mattresses for a long time after moving. My list "minimal" list is very short (I'm infamous for taking long trips with almost zero luggage) but my comfortable list includes tools, quality of life objects such as musical instruments, safety equipment, and so on.

    I guess it's like eating disorders. Too much is a problem, to little is a problem, but when it gets "bad" is when it becomes an obsession. Emotionally making rash and irreversible purges of personal belongings can't be healthy, any more than hording or puking up your dinner to lose weight.
    Last edited by Him; 01-09-2013 at 06:45 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Him View Post
    1) two sets of clothing (he said he had two pairs of jeans and a handful of shirts)
    Ugh, I wish I could do that as a girl -.- lol!

    Quote Originally Posted by Him View Post
    I guess it's like eating disorders. Too much is a problem, to little is a problem, but when it gets "bad" is when it becomes an obsession. Emotionally making rash and irreversible purges of personal belongings can't be healthy, any more than hording or puking up your dinner to lose weight.
    I honestly don't think it's a problem to be "too" minimalist. If that's what makes him happy, even after the fact that he couldn't ask people over or learn an instrument, then it's not a problem. I think things become a problem when a concept begins interfering with your ability to enjoy life in your own eyes.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Him View Post
    I guess it's like eating disorders. Too much is a problem, to little is a problem, but when it gets "bad" is when it becomes an obsession. Emotionally making rash and irreversible purges of personal belongings can't be healthy, any more than hording or puking up your dinner to lose weight.
    It's only a problem if it's a problem for the individual, though.

    When we first moved here, we had our clothing, DS's toys/books, our basic electronics and toiletries, and basics for the kitchen (cuz we do cook rather than dine out. a friend of mine is a multi millionaire and he doesn't own any kitchen gear because he never cooks). We had lots of people over, full social lives, lots of activities and even hobbies. It's not as if having very little *means* that you are embarrassed or have a problem.

    Obviously, this guy has another issue, and he channels that into this minimalism stuff (or something).

    ---

    We currently rent a 465 sq ft cottage (finally got the confirmation from the landlady).

    This is our furniture:

    Bedroom: King size bed, dresser
    Lounge: twin size bed with drawers beneath, two chairs and small bench
    kitchen: kitchen table, 4 cafe chairs (i want to get rid of these and get 4 used tolix-style stools).
    closet/second bedroom: 2 book shelves -- one holds books, electronics, business/immigration/etc information; the other is DS's toys/books (3 shelves) and pantry space (two shelves).

    In terms of clothing, we do capsule wardrobes.

    DS got over-loaded because family likes to send him clothes. I had to tell them to stop because I was storing "grow into" stuff, would forget it was there, and he would have grown out of it before wearing it! So, i sold it and was able to use the money to pay for fun stuff for him (like bowling).

    DH's clothes fits into two drawers, mine fits into one and on a couple of hangers (dresses), and DS has the most with 5 drawers (three in the day bed in the lounge, two in our dresser -- it's high-boy style, so the dresser isn't big). And we have three jackets each: three season, warm, and rain.

    For shoes, DS has two pair -- everyday and rain; I have three pair (two vibrams, one rain); DH has several more than that -- i don't keep count.

    We have a pot, a skillet, a crock pot, knives (3), spatula, dishes for 3, several jars for food storage, and three mugs.

    We have two computers (lap top each), two iPods, an external hard drive. DH and I have about 10 books here -- most are DH's. We have bedding, of course.

    Toiletries: toothbrushes, hair brush and comb, some hair supplies (bands, barrettes, hair combs), moon cup and washable pads for me, plus my rags for things like body-honey waxing and oil-washing.

    For most people, it's pretty simple.

    And DS has toy minimalism. He has lego, blocks, about 10 soft toys, 8 wooden vehicles, a wooden sword, and one box of books. He also has some rocks, sticks. shells, and cloth (scarves, sheets) that he uses for costuming, building, and other creative play. He has 4 musical instruments (harmonica, drum, rattle, ukulele). For most kids his age (4) -- that's very few toys.

    Oh, and he has a big boy bike now -- no training wheels! -- and a helmet.

    I also have my roller derby gear. And DH has some weight training stuff.

    Still, like i say. LOL

    I oculd do without several things int he house, but I think they are good for us to have for the now.
    Last edited by zoebird; 01-09-2013 at 10:41 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoebird View Post

    And DS has toy minimalism. He has lego, blocks, about 10 soft toys, 8 wooden vehicles, a wooden sword, and one box of books. He also has some rocks, sticks. shells, and cloth (scarves, sheets) that he uses for costuming, building, and other creative play. He has 4 musical instruments (harmonica, drum, rattle, ukulele). For most kids his age (4) -- that's very few toys.

    Never knew why kids have so many toys. Parents try to overcompensate for something?
    Everything is bad for something - How do you feel today?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
    It's only a problem if it's a problem for the individual, though.

    When we first moved here, we had our clothing, DS's toys/books, our basic electronics and toiletries, and basics for the kitchen (cuz we do cook rather than dine out. a friend of mine is a multi millionaire and he doesn't own any kitchen gear because he never cooks). We had lots of people over, full social lives, lots of activities and even hobbies. It's not as if having very little *means* that you are embarrassed or have a problem.

    Obviously, this guy has another issue, and he channels that into this minimalism stuff (or something).
    Well sure. It's like when someone suffers from anorexia nervosa - obviously they have other issues and channel them into body image, which in turn reinforces those other issues starting a classic vicious cycle that is hard to break. And obviously the anorexia is at one level just a symptom of other issues. And obviously every behavior associated with anorexia can be positive in certain circumstances. However, it's probably best not to celebrate those behaviors or congratulate people for exhibiting symptoms of anorexia.

    Same deal here IMO.

    You aren't minimalist from what you've described. You have a lot of stuff, most of which is absolutely unnecessary. On top of that, moving usually involves some purging for reasons that are tied to the realities of a move and economics...it's an externally driven purge, like vomiting because you are sick. That's socially and psychologically very different from what the OP and my friend were engaged in, which is far more like putting a finger down your throat because doing so makes you feel you have control of some part of your life. The results are superficially similar but categorically very different.

    I think that when people who are not objectively overweight, or who do not objectively have so much stuff as to be a problem, start taking remedial action and getting an emotional (vs. functional or economic) reward for action (vs. improvement in safety, capability, or other objective quality of life measure), it's probably best not to offer positive reinforcement. It's a tricky line, as any weight-loss related forum demonstrates perfectly. There is a line between mutual encouragement between people who need to lose weight, which is wonderful, and pro-ana, which also happens and isn't wonderful at all.

    Just my take, YMMV.

  8. #8
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    Here are the relevant quotes, and here's how I understand them:

    1. asserts what minimalism means and is -- that it is an objective standard. Relevant quotes:

    Quote Originally Posted by Him View Post
    You aren't minimalist from what you've described.
    -- I might live simply, but it's not minimalism because simplicity and minimalism are defined as . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Him View Post
    Again, don't get me wrong...being fiscally responsible is great. Keeping things as simple as they should be - but no simpler - is great.

    [then defined as]. . .I think when it comes to simplifying - as in everywhere else in life - you need a realistic balance. . . .Getting rid of that stuff would make my life simpler in the short term but would lower my overall quality of life far more. If you can't keep stuff you like or that makes your life better because some miswiring in your brain causes you to descend into minimalism, if the minimalism manifests itself in ways that make you less happy, that's not healthy.

    In my opinion.
    By definition, minimalism means lowering your quality of life. It logically follows, of course, that doing so is not healthy (i agree with this logic).

    I disagree that minimalism *means* lowering your quality of life for an emotional reward.

    In minimalist circles, minimalism actually means simplifying and finding your personal balance -- to break the cycle of consumer culture, become free of the burdens of stuff, and to provide opportunities (financially and otherwise) to do what you want to do with your time/money (life).

    Thus, you would even be considered a minimalist -- since you take this simplicity approach. Though it is true that some people (minimalists) have abandoned the term minimalist in favor of "simplicity" and "simple living" because they do not like the "i'm more minimalist than you!" process (ie, being told that what they have isn't "necessary" and that "true minimalism is X").

    2. anyone who practices minimalism (by Him's definition) is mentally ill.

    Emotionally making rash and irreversible purges of personal belongings can't be healthy, any more than hording or puking up your dinner to lose weight.
    True, but just because an individual has fewer things doesn't mean that their process was rash or irreversible or causes them suffering. That's where the illicit conversion comes in.

    That's socially and psychologically very different from what the OP and my friend were engaged in, which is far more like putting a finger down your throat because doing so makes you feel you have control of some part of your life. The results are superficially similar but categorically very different.
    Your friend purged his life of stuff.
    Op has purged his life of stuff.

    Your friend was mentally ill, therefore the OP is mentally ill.

    The trouble is this -- the lack of stuff doesn't objectively point to an irrational, mental-illness process.

    If I lived on my own, I would very likely live like the OP. Why? It's a matter of preference. Although, I would have had only *one* suitcase of clothing. So, I might have been more minimal there.

    This is not an indication of mental illness. It is the same process that you describe above about happiness, etc. Truly. You might not believe it, but going for less than what you (subjectively) consider "balanced" does not automatically equal rash decisions, lack of utilitarianism, lack of safety, and lack of happiness, or mental illness.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
    Here are the relevant quotes, and here's how I understand them:

    1. asserts what minimalism means and is -- that it is an objective standard. Relevant quotes:



    -- I might live simply, but it's not minimalism because simplicity and minimalism are defined as . . .
    Actually, no... I don't consider what you described as minimalism because you seem to have a lot of stuff that you want but don't need. In other words, you haven't reached, and have no intention of reaching, the minimum. Minimum isn't your goal.

    Quote Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
    By definition, minimalism means lowering your quality of life. It logically follows, of course, that doing so is not healthy (i agree with this logic).
    Again, no. Look at part of what I wrote: "if the minimalism manifests itself in ways that make you less happy, that's not healthy."

    Logically, that "if" allows for minimalism that manifests in ways that make you more happy, and minimalism that doesn't change your happiness at all, as well as minimalism that makes you less happy. I'm not saying that minimalism itself is always a source of unhappiness.

    Now, if you want to bring mental health into things, consider this: If X and Y are NOT proportional...If minimalism and happiness do not increase together...is it mentally healthy to ALWAYS increase X when you want more Y? In other words, if you are unhappy should the answer always be, "get rid of more stuff!" If you answered, "no", does that mean that the minimalism is the mental health issue? My answer is another no.

    Logically, your conclusions don't follow from what I said. I didn't make anything like the claims you are trying to attribute to me.

    Now, if you want my opinion, which I'll freely admit, I think that simplifying beyond the limits of the functional definition I supplied previously is rash and ill advised. I think it can be very unhealthy. But I don't think it is the minimalism itself that is the problem. I don't think minimalism itself is a mental illness. I think it can be a symptom of mental illness... but as you yourself point out, having a symptom doesn't logically mean you have any of the diseases associated with that symptom. I would never claim otherwise.
    Last edited by Him; 01-10-2013 at 02:01 PM.

  10. #10
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    You might think it's a disorder, but at 70K a year and not spending on anything he'll probably be able to retire young and spend his life traveling the world.
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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