“Less is More.”Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
The past few years have noticed a significant rise in the concept of minimalism. Everywhere you go, you will find someone who practices minimalism.
Minimalism as a concept is not something new. People across different walks of life have practiced minimalism.
This concept was first famous among the artists. Their paintings in the post World War II era reflected the minimalistic approach.
The quote “Less is More” that widely popularized minimalism was the mantra of the minimalist German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. He had a minimalistic approach towards architecture, and it reflected in his works which were dominated by a minimal framework and free-flowing spaces.
The first significant appearance of the minimalistic approach in consumer market was adopted by Steve Jobs. The simplicity of design and the adherence to the less is more principle was apparent the moment you saw the design of the Macintosh.
But what changed people’s life was adopting the concept of “Less is More” in their lives. When the early minimalists saw the benefit of this concept, they shared it with others. The minimalist revolution spread like wildfire.
Minimalism is Practiced since Ages
What we don’t notice is that this “minimalist” approach that we talk about so much is something that the monks have practiced since ages. Less is more is the ultimate way of living for the monks.
The Buddhist Monks or Bhikkhus are only allowed to carry four essential items, apart from their robes: a razor, a needle, an alms bowl, and a water strainer. Indian Monks or sages were known to follow the similar rule where they carried only the essential items. This separation from the materialistic world has allowed the monks to be free from the vicious materialism trap and in turn, allowed them to be more focused on serving others and living in the present.
The minimalism principle of the monks is something that we all can benefit from. Imagine having more money, more energy, less stress, and more satisfaction. This all can be achieved by practicing minimalism. We don’t have to go to the extremes the monks go. To make it simple to practice this principle in all walks of your life, I have three exercises.
Decluttering your Environment, Mind, and Life
The first step to practice minimalism is by decluttering. As the word suggests, decluttering is all about getting rid of the clutter that you have or carry around.
Decluttering your Environment
Let’s start this exercise with the simplest of all, decluttering your environment. I said simplest of the three, but this exercise is not going to be simple, especially if you love your stuff. But have faith, you will feel unburdened when you complete all of this exercises.
To start decluttering your environment, you first need to decide the essentials that you need on a regular basis. Make a list of them. Then make a list of the things that you might require occasionally. Everything else that didn’t make your list can be discarded, or better, donated. Now, when I say make a list, you have to be very honest and only include the things that you absolutely need.
Only when you can learn to let go of the clutter from your life, you can become free from materialism.
Decluttering your Mind
Decluttering your mind is a fun exercise. It is a habit that you would need to practice consistently, but once you start doing it, you will enjoy this exercise. So, what exactly you have to do to declutter your mind? Just like we made a list of the essentials to declutter our environment, we will be doing something similar to declutter the mind. You need to maintain a Journal to practice this exercise.
Doesn’t matter if you have a diary or prefer to write digitally, the point is to write down everything that comes to your mind. I personally prefer to maintain my journal digitally and have two main sections, the Daily Log, and the Idea Dump. Daily Log is where I write whatever I am thinking or if something is troubling me, I break down the situation in my writing, gives me a different perspective to my problem. In the Idea Dump section, I write every idea that comes to mind. I don’t eliminate anything, even if the idea sounds stupid, I write it down. This has allowed me to learn and develop my skills in so many ways.
You can also try to list down all your tasks that come to your mind. Just note it down in your Journal or if you prefer a to-do app, add the tasks over there. This exercise is to take out and record all the clutter you have in one location. Trust me, this sounds simple, but the impact it can have are simply amazing. You will feel more creative and productive.
Decluttering your Life
Decluttering your life is the most challenging exercise. To get started list down everyone you know and categorize them based on how positive or negative impact they have on your life. It sounds simple, but this is very difficult. When I did this exercise, I was hesitant to write some names in the Negative category. I knew they were dragging me down, but I just couldn’t accept it.
Once you have done this, now comes the most difficult part. Break ties with the people in the negative category!
I know, you must be thinking that this is ridiculous, but trust me, you will feel the pain initially, but you will never regret this decision. I understand that you can’t completely break ties with everyone in the negative category.
You don’t have to, the point is to have minimum contact and interaction with negative people in your life.
You can completely break all ties with some people, but with the ones you can’t, you have to minimize your interaction, physical or virtual.
Note: This is an excerpt from my first book, The Productivity Monk. The book will be releasing soon on Amazon.