I’m excited to present the first in a series of interviews on being minimalist. Every Wednesday on Far Beyond The Stars, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be publishing an interview with an authority on living the minimalist life.
Next week I’ll be speaking with Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle about his experiences moving abroad and working from anywhere. The week after I’m totally stoked to be speaking with Leo Babauta of Mnmlistand Zen Habits about his experiences with being minimalist.
Today I have the honor of speaking with David Damron. Dave writes about being minimalist at The Minimalist Path, and about living life to the fullest atLife Excursion. He’s also published an excellent free ebook: 7 Steps to a Simpler Life.
I talked with Dave about his minimalist goals, his annoyance over the amount of plastic bags being used by consumers, and easy strategies that everyone can adopt in order to make their lives more minimalist.
I hope you’ll give this a read!
The Interview with David Damron
Everett Bogue: There are a few basic pillars on which rests the philosophy of being minimalist, what do you think is the most important element of being minimalist?
David Damron: The most important element of being a minimalist, for me, is determining what is most important in my life. Simplifying and reduction is key, but knowing what is important is the best reason to become a minimalist.
Over at LifeExcursion recently, I wrote an article entitled The Hypocritical Minimalist where I detail my non-minimalist action and why it was right for me. Focusing on simplifying the things that don’t matter and putting 90% of your energy what does is the best reason anyone should become a minimalist.
It all comes down to this for all of us minimalist-hopefuls: Minimize the stuff that doesn’t matter and focus on the elements in your life that are truly important.
EB: Do you have an minimalist goals that you’ve set for yourself recently?
DD: This is probably the most asked question I get at The Minimalist Path.
I have a few goals: I am trying to minimize my attention towards statistical data and focus on content production for my sites. Another is looking into more wireless capabilities for my crazy amount of technological gear. I want to be more wireless, but I need to eliminate as many gadgets as I have. I am not sure if a smart phone, like an iPhone or Droid, would be great for me. But I realize that may be the case with my online and social media growth. With that, I also need to minimize the use of those technological items and bring more simplicity to my life.
Last, I am trying to decide if I love my books enough to keep or minimize them. I am leaning towards keeping them as they are a great source for me and are one of the few non-minimalist items I have, but I’m still on the fence.
This is a great question and I think everyone should think of a minimalist goal they want or need to set up for themselves.
EB: What steps have you set for yourself towards achieving those goals?
DD: I knew this one was coming and it’s only fair to answer honestly.
Well, I try not to check my websites stats more than twice a day (once in the morning/evening). I have not put in as much effort towards looking into and pricing the wireless capabilities out there. So, I am definitely not living as I preach on that one. As for the books, that one is still up in the air.
The biggest problem with goals in today’s society is not that we don’t set them, it’s that we do not work towards them. Minimalism is tough, no doubt about that. There are many things I wish I would have kept, but then realize it wasn’t worth sacrificing the anchor of stuff to keep it all.
When it comes to a minimalist goal you set, I suggest doing something about it immediately. The less you waver and regret, the more success you will have.
To all of your readers: I suggest setting goals, write them down now. Immediately after write down 10 things you will do to achieve your goals, then act on them. The more you and your goals sit stagnant, whether it be with being minimalist or other aspects in life, the more likely they won’t become a reality.
EB: There are a lot of ways that society at large can benefit from becoming more minimalist, could you recommend one habit that you believe would broadly effect the sustainability of society today?
DD: This answer is going to come out of left field, but one I feel strongly about and I am personally not doing enough to change.
Minimize packaging. Packaging is a huge waste and brings about more pollution than vehicles. One major packaging item we use more than we realize is plastic. Plastics are made using oil and end up sitting in a landfill or ocean not decomposing. I worked at a grocery store for four years and saw people just blatantly use plastic bags for one or two items.
I wish it was mandatory to use reusable bags while shopping everywhere. Another positive side to minimizing packaging is that it influences everyone to go to this unheard of section of the grocery store called the produce department.
If you and I use less packaging:
- the less pollution we create
- the less foreign oil we use
- the less items will cost
- the less persuasively we will be influenced by consumerism
There are many other minimalist aspects I wish others would focus on, but since no one ever talks about these topics, I think it is great to bring to light.
EB: Could you describe one simple step that our reader’s could employ to make this habit part of their lives?
DD: Do not allow yourself to grocery shop without bringing or purchasing a reusable bag. They are a $1. Seriously, no one I know shopping at American grocery stores does not have $1 to spend on a reusable bag. Yes, everyone can afford it. You may have to skip the box of cookies, but you can afford it. If you forget your reusable bag at home, buy a new one. Force yourself to do this. Stop making excuses. It’s simple, cheap and smart.
EB: Is there any element of being minimalist that you struggle with? –Mine is that I haven’t given up eating meat (yet?,) even though I know how big of an impact this has on the environment.
DD: I am a horrible minimalist when it comes to working on the computer. I rarely focus on the task at hand and this is a huge problem for my productivity. Right now I have seven tabs open on Firefox, I am running my Thunderbird email on the other screen (yes, I have two screens), I have numerous windows tabs open. Having this many tabs open is actually (sadly) not a lot for me.
I like to think I am more productive this way, but don’t really know if I am. I’m aspiring to be more like the Leo Babauta’s of this world and be a whole lot more productive while on the computer.
EB: And last, can you think of one unexpected reward of being minimalist that you’ve discovered on your minimalist journeys?
DD: Freedom. I recently lived overseas for six months. I was able to do this because I eliminated any and everything that did not lead to the simple life. Living abroad requires this level of simplicity. I never thought getting rid of most of my possessions, limiting my financial liabilities, and simplifying my basic lifestyle would lead to such freedom, but such was the case.
If you or anyone you know is feeling trapped by life and not venturing to do what they love, I strongly suggest becoming a minimalist. Becoming minimalist has opened so many doors for me and I think the same can be done for millions others.
Be sure to check back next week for an interview with Colin Wright, and the week after for Leo Babauta.