There’s a reason zombie movies are so popular. They have an uncanny resemblance to modern reality.
People go to zombie movies to stare blankly at a screen for an hour and a half. Occasionally something scary will happen, and they’ll jump out of their seats as another low-dosage bit of adrenalin fed into their systems.
Now they feel like they did something, so they can walk to their cars and drive home without feeling as empty as they did before. They brush their teeth to remove the little bits of popcorn still stuck in between them. Satisfied that they actually did something, these people go to bed.
At least there aren’t zombies in the world, right?
The truth is that there are zombies. Millions of people are delaying their lives for the idea of security that’s been pumped into us by a modern society that wants us to comply.
Think about it. The TV wants you to sit down and buy things. The mainstream media wants you to sit down and buy things. The big food businesses want you to sit down and buy things. All of this combined is an overwhelming message to the people: buying things is what we’re here for.
Being a minimalist and traveling the world just doesn’t fit into the Walmart’s second quarter projections. That’s why the schools don’t teach you to be minimalist — in fact, that’s why schools don’t teach you how to use credit cards effectively.
Because if you knew how much your life should cost (answer: less) when you got out of high school (or college even!), you wouldn’t go out and buy that Prius, would you?
Nope, you’d walk to the farmers market like any individual minimalist who desires freedom does.
Why I didn’t want you to read my blog.
My last post created quite a split in the community.
On the one hand we had the people who are living this life, the ones who are pursuing a minimalist existence. They saw the post as a call to arms, as a message to practice minimalism better, because there are people who aren’t practicing at all.
Many bloggers linked in and retweeted that post because it took courage to say those things.
Then there were the people who felt like I didn’t want them here anymore. They were confused, and a bit hurt. This is understandable, I said some mean things to a certain group of people.
The truth is, I want almost everyone here. Honestly, there’s no way I can keep you out — this is and will always be a public blog.
The point of the post was just to say: I’m writing about being minimalist in order to live and work from anywhere. I won’t write a blog about going to Walmart in the minivan, because that blog isn’t my blog — stop emailing me and asking me to write a minimalist-lite blog where shopping is an okay thing to do.
There’s a reason I tell you not to do things, it’s because you shouldn’t do them.
Far Beyond The Stars isn’t about decaffeinated minimalism, it’s about changing the planet.
These ideas are out there at Walden Pond, and your six-bedroom suburban house with the central vacuuming system that you can’t afford isn’t going to fit on the beach.
One last time: I wanted the people who want me to write a DIFFERENT BLOG to unsubscribe. Not the people who are interested in this life.
Believe it or not, my subscriber count has continued to skyrocket since my last blog post, so I can only imagine many of you are still listening. Good! I won’t be content until you’re actually doing some of these things below though. It’s time for you to start now, if you’re still reading.
I’d love if you’d stay, if you feel these ideas are helping you.
For this post I’d like to go back to basics.
I’ve integrated every single of these things into my life, but I have a distinct feeling that many of you (especially on the ‘up-in-arms’ part of the community that I described above.) aren’t practicing many of these things.
I also recognize that the other half of the blog audience, the ones who have achieved some level of minimalism in their lives, are already doing many of these things. If this post bores you, that’s awesome — I give you permission to go to the beach. I’m so glad you’re practicing minimalism in such an advanced fashion.
Don’t get me wrong, being minimalist is hard work. The rewards are extraordinary though, you will live a freer life and have less of an impact on the planet. Those of you who are doing the work deserve recognition for the difficulty of walking the path.
The most important element of being minimalist is applying these lessons.
Obviously these will not be available to everyone all the time. Some people live in the rest of America where cars are a must-have, I recognize that. Other people will work in a profession where they need to have more than 100-things. That’s okay! 100-things isn’t for everyone. Try instead to focus your life around the things that your profession requires, even if that’s 300-things.
The point is the practice, the practice is the point.
Here are 26 essential ways to start to achieve minimalist freedom.
1. Walk everywhere. One of the most basic things our species can do is walk, but so few of us actually do it. Walking is one of the simpler joys in life, and is completely free. If you’re used to driving 15 blocks to the store, try walking 15 blocks to the store. You’ll burn calories and feel more centered when you return home. For more: The Simple Joy of Walking.
2. Bike everywhere. Biking is one of the best ways to get around quickly under your own power. You’ll lose weight and start to cultivate a sexy body. I realize this is easier in some cities than others. You can get an inexpensive bike in most cities for less than $150 that works amazingly. Wear a helmet. For more: How to Rent a Bike in Any City for Free.
3. Prepare your own food from fresh ingredients. Making your own meals is another one of the habits you can pick up that will change your life. When you buy prepared and processed foods you are filling up your body with preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup. When you make your own food from fresh ingredients, you’re eating what our bodies have been eating for thousands of years — good food that’s made out of real food. For more on preparing minimalist food, I highly recommend Stonesoup: Minimalist Home Cooking.
4. Purchase only things you need. We only need a fraction of the things that we buy, the other 80% is junk that we won’t use. This stuff tends to end up in the dumpster, because once you buy junk it’s value decreases immediately to zero. A minimalist recognizes that we only need the basic necessities of life in order to survive, and so buys less.
5. Buy digital. There are two reasons to buy digital goods over physical ones. 1) They aren’t created out of natural resources. 2) They support the artists more because the cost isn’t being eaten up in the production process. This isn’t to say you should go on a digital spending spree, just that if you have a choice between buying a physical CD and a digital CD you might as well choose the MP3s — you’re just going to MP3 it anyway.
6. Do a freedom test. Test the boundaries of your freedom. How far can you go before you start to feel uncomfortable? Can you take a week off from work and spend it on the beach? Can you do this for a month? A year? Put everything you care about in a bag and just set it by the door until you can’t take it anymore, then just go. If you push the boundaries of freedom, you’ll start to see that there aren’t any boundaries anymore.
7. Connect with less people online. The more-is-better philosophy carries over to the Internet for many people. I see so many people in Twitter who are following 4,534 people. How can you possibly connect with that many people? You can’t. Dunbar’s Law states that we can only connect with 150 people, after that we start to forget names and make mistakes. Reduce your Twitter follow count to less than 150 people and start to grow real relationships.
8. Get off the deferred-life plan. Are you waiting until old to achieve freedom? One of the biggest modern myths is that we need to work whole entire youths away in order to save for a distant future where we’ll retire to a beach somewhere. The problem with this obvious: you can have a lot more fun on the beach when you’re young! Start to rearrange your life so you spend more time not working. Spending 80% of your time being free is more than enough, in my opinion.
9. Go paperless. With technology as advanced as it is now, there’s no reason why you can’t go paperless. I recently stopped using paper completely, which I hope to write an entire article about. Scan all of your important documents into Evernote (which is completely searchable and accessible anywhere.) and keep a separate backup on an external hard drive — then shred them. Opt for paperless statements from your bank and credit companies. Instead of using notebooks to write in, use your computer. I do most of my preliminary writing on my iPhone, which saves directly to Evernote. From there I can do an edit and publish from my computer.
10. Work from home. Commuting takes time and resources. Ask your boss (if you still have one.) if you can work from home or from a coffee shop one day out of the week. Chances are your productivity will improve once you’re out of the office. You’ll also save the planet because you won’t be commuting. Consider encouraging your office to move to a ROWE (results only world environment) in order to separate results from time in order to increase company profits and save everyone time.
11. Focus on what matters to you. It’s so easy to become scattered in our modern lives. Consider writing down three or four focus points for your life. This way you can concentrate your time and resources around what matters to you. My focus points are Writing, Reading, Cooking, and Yoga. For more: The Stunning Truth About Focusing on the Important.
12. Retire your souvenirs. We’ve been told to keep things from our travels, to cherish items that hold memories. The problem with souvenirs is that they take up space and usually serve very little purpose other than to remind us where we’ve been. We know where we’ve been, because we were there. Start to kill the habit of collecting useless things, and begin cultivating a habit of having amazing experiences. You will remember an amazing experience a lot longer than the wooden turtle you bought for $3 in Chinatown.
13. Check your email less. We check our email way too much. Once a day is more than enough to deal with everything you need to in a work day. This way you can spend more time creating work that matters, and less time waiting to receive emails that you have to answer, and getting nothing done while you’re hitting the refresh button. For more:The Indispensable Guide to Timejacking.
14. Downsize to a smaller house. If you move into a smaller house, you’ll be able to fit less stuff in it. This will also dramatically reduce your utility bills. You’ll also have to spend less money on your house, which will enable you to work towards having 80% free time, which I described above. We don’t need five spare bedrooms to store our junk in, in reality, we only need one bedroom to sleep in and a kitchen to prepare our food in. When you have a smaller house, you’ll have more incentive to get out and spend time in the great big world, because you won’t spend all of your time dusting the table you don’t use in the fifth bedroom.
15. Disconnect for a day. We’re constantly connected, which can’t be good for our brains. Give yourself a day (or even a week!) off from being connected. Turn off the phone, unplug the internet, just be a normal person who isn’t jacked into The Matrix all day. For more: 7 Simple Ways to Disconnect.
16. Practice saying no. No is one of the most powerful words a minimalist can use. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in projects that we aren’t 100% passionate about. This leads to doing a bad job at a lot of things, instead of focusing our attention on the important. Saying no is hard, but it’s incredibly necessary in the modern age to keep from being overwhelmed. For more: How to Say No Gracefully.
17. Start a blog about being minimalist. There are so many amazing minimalist blogs out there, and I think the more the better. If you’re taking a minimalist journey, consider blogging about it. This will help keep you focused on your goals, and also can become a great way to generate income on the side. When I wrote my last post, someone emailed me to say they were starting a blog about keeping all of his stuff and being minimalist at the same time! Good for him, I think he’s missing the point though.
18. Sell your car. Go Car-free. This is an amazingly simple way to reduce carbon emissions and also get yourself out of debt. One of the biggest myths of the modern age is that we need to have a car to get around. Buy a bike, start walking, you’ll dramatically improve your health and also save a heap of money. For more: Simply Car-free by Tammy Strobel.
19. Make a list of your 100 most important things. One of the most powerful things you can do is identify your top 100 possessions. These are the things that you’d take with you if you were to achieve minimalist freedom. Open a document, start with 1, and recite from memory which items that you’d want to keep. If you can’t remember them, you probably don’t need them.
20. Reduce your possessions to 100 things. Now that you have the list, get rid of everything that’s not on it! Start with things you haven’t used in years, and work your way down to things that you haven’t used in months. Sell things on Craigslist and eBay in order to earn money. Have a yard sale and charge $1 for things that aren’t worth much. Give away everything that you have left. Now you’re free!
21. Observe the 30-day rules. There are two rules you should adopt. The first is getting rid of everything that you don’t use at least once a month. This rule is helping me decide what stays and what goes as I work my way towards 50 possessions. I got rid of my tent and my moleskin, because both of these things I hadn’t used in more than a month. The other 30-day rule is simple: create a list and put anything purchases bigger than $20 on the list — you now have to wait at least 30 days before you can buy these things. Do you still want them after 30 days? Probably not.
22. Destroy your TV. You know how I feel about televisions by now, I don’t like them. TV is passive entertainment in a world where you can choose what to watch. Having a TV in your living room promotes sitting on the couch eating Cheetos. Sell it, destroy it, whatever you need to do to free yourself from the infernal ad-spewing machine. For more: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
23. Shop at the farmers market. Eating local food is one of the best ways to promote health in your own body as well as save the planet. Walk to your farmer’s market and buy food that’s grown locally. Locally grown food is more expensive, but it’s also a lot more nutritious because it hasn’t been frozen and shipped halfway across the country or the planet. For more: The True Food Diet.
24. Have opinions about things that matter. Life’s too short to not have opinions. If something angers you, it’s your job to speak out. Don’t be a sheepwalker, towing the middle line between mediocrity and normality. Instead, be a leader, make a difference, start a movement, and start to bring change to yourself and this planet.
25. Learn to entertain yourself for less. Entertainment doesn’t have to cost money. There are many ways to have fun that don’t involve spending lots of money. Go for a walk in the park. Sit on a bench and watch the birds. Cook a healthy dinner for your friends or family. For more: Minimalist Fun
26. Get on a plane and go somewhere. Ultimately, the best way to become minimalist is to just drop it all and get out of town. End your lease, put all of your stuff on the side of the road, jump in a plane and get out of town. When you leave the comforts of home, you will start to learn amazing things about yourself and begin to have new experiences that you never thought were possible while you were sitting on the couch.
The possibilities are endless, so get out there and explore. Don’t wait until your old and wrinkly to have a life. Two weeks of vacation a year is a crime, and you deserve more than that. Use the skills that I’ve taught you, start building new income streams, and declare independence from the zombie-state.
The reason you should do this is not because it’s the only way, and it’s not because I told you to. You should do this because it’s possible.
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