I came to prefer doing and having few important things to doing and having many unimportant things. I’ve grown to like simplicity and dislike complexity.
The design of this site (or the lack thereof) perhaps reflects this.
I don’t think that qualifies me to be a minimalist. But if you want to call me that, fine. It’s just a label. I don’t care too much about labels.
I care a lot more about stripping away the unessential and focusing on the essential.
I grew up in a culture and a family that adored stuff. Nothing ever was thrown out, because “it might be good for something”. And you know what, it often was.
My dad is the kind of person, who can (and will) build a lawn mower out of a broken stroller and a coffee grinder. My mom keeps every glass bottle and plastic box in the world to put jam or food in them. Nothing goes to waste in that house.
I respect my parents’ ingenuity, but I’m not like them. I wanted to be. I used to keep lots of useless stuff because it might be good for something, but it never was. I didn’t make lawn mowers or jam. And the stuff just kept accumulating. I had to do something.
I got rid of most of the crap. I sold some of it, gave some of it away and threw out the really useless stuff. The rest, which was still a truckload, I dumped at my parents’ house. What I am left with now is a laptop, a cellphone and some clothes, all of which fits into a 40 liter carry on bag and weighs less than 10 kg.
Since I did that, there is so much more space. Not only physical, but mental space too.
It’s not just about stuff. This idea of stripping away the unessential and focusing on the essential has helped me in every single area of my life.
I used to try and keep in touch with hundreds of people. I was a great believer of the weak tie theory and that having lots of acquaintances is a great asset. And it can be if you do it right. But what I didn’t realize was that I neglected my “strong ties” and they became weak too. These days I try to nurture meaningful relationships with a few people. Anything else is a bonus.
I’ve also been a lot more conscious of what I spend my time with. My productivity has improved lots since I can separate the urgent from the important and I can delegate the unimportant (whatever doesn’t require my personal input) to other people.
The trick is plain and simple: get rid of what you don’t need and you’ll have more space and time to enjoy what you have.