As an aspiring minimalist (and desperately frugal, broke college student), I’ve been working on eliminating and limiting my physical possessions. Not only does this minimize waste and clutter, but it also places more of an emphasis on what I do have, as opposed to what I don’t have. It’s a tough mantra to stick to, considering our consumerist culture, where everybody is always racing for the next best thing. But I’ve noticed that it fills my life with a whole lot more love and appreciation as opposed to desire and jealousy.
Just recently, I took part in an awakening conversation regarding what we, as individuals, need. What do I really need, or lack thereof, in order to detoxify my soul? This conversation helped me realize that minimalism isn’t just about the material eliminations, but also our mentality and how it affects our daily routine. Sure, I recycle my clothes, and glass and plastic. I refrain from excessive shopping and littering. I have the outward appearance of an environmentally conscious minimalist, but how can I further simplify myself so that my life is even more free of clutter? I must ask myself what I need.
It sounds easy, because it is! However, our society runs at a fast and demanding pace, and sometimes it is just as easy to get caught up in making choices that are not necessarily good for us. Here are some things I ask myself everyday in order to cleanse my habits:
1. Do I need to talk negatively about this person/place/thing?
The answer is: of course not. Many people, including myself, like to indulge in gossip. It helps us feel better about ourselves. However, have you ever noticed how you feel after the fact? Negative talk about anything or anyone (including yourself!) is just going to level you to a negative mindset. Instead, perhaps you could replace your judgments with empathy and understanding. Consider the fact that everyone has a story that you don’t know the half of. Once you gain an empathetic perspective, you’ll feel a lot more content at the end of the day, I promise.
2. Do I need to post/tweet this?
Scrolling down my twitter feed, I tend to find a lot of complaints. From what I’ve noticed over the years, people use social network as a place to vent their frustrations. It’s good that people have a place to vent to, but when negativity is being spread to everybody else, it’s probably not worth it. Besides, publishing your frustrations to the Internet makes it that much more difficult to let go of them. I used to spread a lot of negativity on social media, even unintentionally. I realize that Saint Augustine was way ahead of his time when he said, “If you are silent, be silent out of love. If you speak, speak out of love” because it most definitely applies to the cyber world we live in today.
3. Do I need to answer this text message/call?
This is one I still struggle with. Still being a fairly new college student, I have a pretty extensive list of contacts on my phone of people I went to high school with. This does not mean I have to reunite with all of them upon returning home from being away at school. It’s so important to accept the fact that people grow, sometimes in directions pointing away from each other. Just because someone of your past messaged you asking to get together, does not mean you have to go through with it. Respect yourself enough to not surround yourself with people that bring you down. On the contrary, if you have good friends who you’ve known for a long time, by all means, acknowledge and celebrate those beautiful relationships! Just don’t be afraid to ignore anyone’s text here and there, for your own sanity’s sake.