Posts tagged advice
How to be a Practical & Socially Conscious Minimalist
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One of the popular criticisms against minimalism that I actually love is how elitist it is. The common saying minimalists use is "to only buy what you need", but that implies that everyone has the privilege of being able to afford to buy more than they need. I know this was not the intention of the movement, but it does exclude a large portion of the population. 

Since those phrases are geared towards those with privilege it is important to point out that most of the problems that are caused by overconsumption are from people of privilege over-consuming, so yes... they should buy less. The problem is stating that this lifestyle that underprivileged don't get to be apart of will lead to happiness. 

I do see the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle, since I try to adhere to it as well. I follow a different set of rules than the extreme minimalists do... such as only owning 500 items. I can't afford to only own 500 items because I need to keep, for example, extra parts from an old computer in case I need them for my new one or for another project. So... here are some practical rules to follow if you want to basically just stop buying so much crap and get your life organized while also being socially conscious about it. 

1. Donate

The only thing you should be throwing away when you're purging all of your crap is garbage. Like on hoarders when they do not even throw away their trash. Or if your furniture or clothes are beyond the point of being useable. If it is useable, donate it. Like I said... there are many people in underprivileged communities that you can help by giving them what you don't want instead of a landfill. 

2. Remember that Your house doesn't need to look like this 

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This is minimalist decor. There is also minimalist art. You don't need to strive for this. I think this is impractical. I want to see pictures of my family on my wall, I want to be inspired by artwork, and I love lots of pillows and throw blankets and I'm still a minimalist. The main point of minimalism is that you rid of the excess, not that you rid of everything. For me, excess is cable television and bulky exercise equipment because I don't use or love either of those things, but there is still some stuff in my house. 

3. When you buy, make it matter

I honestly hate the "vote with your dollar" mindset... that you can just buy eco-friendly clothes and save the Earth. It's not possible and there needs to absolutely be real and drastic policy reform in order for that to happen. It also excludes those who don't have enough money to chose what they buy, they have to buy the cheapest option available. 

With that said, if you do have privilege and you are buying things and experiences, educate yourself on that company. Even if you have to buy from WalMart, look them up, research them, tell people about them, teach your kid about them, and vote with your actual ballot for people who are pushing for reform. If you do have the privilege of having options, always always always chose the most ethical option you can because unfortunately, money is power so give power to those that really deserve it. 

4. Give Experiences Instead of Gifts

I've wrote a lot about this in my other posts, Minimalizing your Life, Not Just Your Closet and How to Change the World by Changing How You Give. For Christmas this past year I took my boyfriend to see Jay-Z instead of an actual present and we had a blast and made memories and that's better than any gift I could've given him (especially because he already has everything he needs/wants). 

5. Reuse

It is absolutely okay to have a room full of junk if its intention is for it to be reused. There is a reason why folks in the depression never threw anything away. It's better for the environment that you reuse the parts from that old computer (to use my previous example) than it is for you to throw it away. When I came up with the idea that I wanted an aquaponics unit that could fit on my counter I was able to make it that day and only had to buy a water pump and a goldfish to make it because I had all of the materials, which is again better for the environment because I didn't have to throw away the packaging for the new stuff. It was also better for my bank account. 

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Why I Chose To Be A Minimalist

I decided about 4 years ago to be a minimalist, and here’s why. 

To Save Money

This one is obvious, the less stuff you buy, the more money you have. For me, I decided the money that I traded for each hour of my life was better spent on good food, good views, and good times.

To Heal My Soul

I was really struggling with the fact that I was calling myself a good person, while I was buying clothes and electronics made in sweat shops. In case you were wondering what you learn as a Political Science major, it is basically just class after class about how greedy companies are destroying the world. The less stuff I bought, the better I could feel about myself because I wasn’t supporting an industry I didn’t believe in.

To De-clutter

One of my favorite quotes is “I spring clean my schedule, not my house”. I grew up with a Type-A mom who kept a very clean, organized house. What this taught me was that organized clutter is still clutter. My brain works like my space, and if my space looks like it’s suffocating from all the clutter, then my brain feels the same way. Minimizing my space was key to reducing my anxiety.

To Be Mobile

I move a lot, or at least I moved a lot in college. In case you’re all wondering, I hate moving. The less stuff I own, the easier it is to move and the less stressed out I feel about having a mobile lifestyle. This last move I made would have made the moving angels weep with joy. It took me about 2 hours to pack and 2 hours to unpack, clean, and decorate my new place. That peace of mind is priceless.

To Have Focused Priorities

It was important for me to minimalize my life as well as my things. Ridding my life of drama, excess stress and responsibilities, and distractions made me so much more productive. I can focus on what I’ve made a priority in my life now and have a life with quality, valuable experiences.

4 Reasons Why Boundaries Are Important and How To Implement Them

What is one thing every happy and successful person has in common? They set boundaries. Here’s why you need boundaries and how to implement them in your life.

1. Boundaries prevent you from being taken advantage of

This is extremely important for your happiness. Think to the last time you were taken advantage of. How did it feel? Horrible right? If you set standards for how you allow people to treat you they will respect you more. It’s really difficult to take advantage of a person who does not allow you to take advantage of them (obviously...)

2. Boundaries keep your self esteem high

If you do not allow others to make fun of you or make you feel bad then your self esteem will stay high. When people aren’t taking you for granted you feel better about yourself. Self-respect is going to feed your self esteem and you’ll be thanking me when you’re happy and surrounded by positivity.

3. Boundaries strengthen your personal relationships

If you allow people to walk all over you, you are going to resent them. By clearly defining what you will allow and not allow in your life you’re not setting your relationships up to fail. You cannot expect people to read your mind. If you do not show that you’re hurting then it is not fair to the person hurting you, how could they know? Setting boundaries will allow for trust to be built. Your partner or friends or family can trust that the emotions you’re showing are real.

4. Boundaries prevent abuse

Mental abuse is not always as easy to pinpoint, especially in romantic relationships, as physical abuse. If you have set up boundaries and notice that a person is constantly ignoring them, it is probably a good sign that they need to leave your life. That is a sign of abuse and you will be happier without that negativity, believe me.

How to implement boundaries:

  1. You need to clearly define what boundaries you want to set in your life. Do you want people to know they cannot ask you for money? Perhaps you hate when people talk about dieting around you. Maybe you would prefer if your family stayed in a hotel instead of your home. Write these down and put some real thought into them.

  2. If you’re having trouble use the “list 5 things method“. List 5 things you want people to stop doing to you, such as ignoring you. 5 things to stop saying to you, such as “you always give up”. And 5 things you want people to stop doing around you, such as gossiping about colleagues.

  3. Own it. You have a right to every single boundary you want to set and you need to be confident in each one. If you allow the boundaries to be crossed then you are losing respect and happiness simultaneously.

  4. At first those already crossing your boundaries are going to object. Remember to always stay calm, explain them as simply as possible, be responsible of your emotions, and if you need to compromise you can, as long as it feels right.

 

P.S. The best part of implementing boundaries is that it will ward off manipulators. Your life will soon only consist of well-meaning relationships.