On Quality

When people talk about minimalism, much of the focus is on quantity—how much you have, how much you don’t have, or how much other people have or don’t have…

Yes, the amount of stuff you own is part of it. But that’s not all minimalism is about.

The focus should be on quality—of your possessions, as well as your relationships, mental health, physical health, spirituality, finances, choices… basically all aspects of your life that could be improved.

It’s easy to only consider quantity because it’s readily measured. You can instantly see the results when you’ve finished decluttering a room or wardrobe. But to think that this is the goal of minimalism is misguided.

The point of minimalism is to lead a better and more meaningful life.  Minimalism then, is more accurately described as a study and practice of quality—quality in the sense of depth, longevity, meaningfulness, value, and how much something contributes to your lifelong comfort and happiness.

Does this person/object/thing mean a lot to me? Does it help me become a better person? Does it help me grow? Does it add to my well-being? Will it last a long time? Is it worth acquiring? Is it worth keeping? Do I really want it, or do I want it because everyone else has it, or has told me I should have it? Does it make me happy?

These things are harder to measure, but are more important than owning an arbitrary amount of 100 things or less. You can own 1,000 or 10,000 things, so long as everything contributes to your life in a meaningful way. Minimalism is saying yes to quality over quantity.

Published by Jessica Dang via Minimalist Meditations | rss | tw | fb | g+

 

On Why

Speaking of discipline as a sustained practice, how do you keep going when things get difficult?

Minimalism isn’t an easy lifestyle. Everyone is telling you that you need the latest gadget, that you should upgrade your car, that you can’t live without x. Temptations are everywhere, and it’s a constant battle against ‘stuff creep’ (when things start to pile up around the house imperceptibly).

As with anything, to keep the motivation to carry on, you need a why—ask yourself, why are you doing this? If you don’t have a good answer, you won’t last long.

Why minimalism?

—For yourself: You’ve decided that you don’t want to be a slave to your stuff. You’re not going to work sixty hours a week just to afford credit card bills. You don’t want to trade your life for things that won’t make you happy. You want time and freedom to do the things you enjoy, and spend it with the people you love. You learn to make the most of life through minimalism. That’s your why.

—Beyond yourself: There are people you care about who you want to be happy too, and you don’t want to see them wasting their effort and potential. Maybe if you cared less about material stuff, other people would care less too, and they wouldn’t work so hard, or for so long. On top of that, the money, time, and other resources you’ve been able to save from not buying stuff is being put to good use, helping those who need it most. In that way, the world is your why.

Published by Jessica Dang via Minimalist Meditations | rss | tw | fb | g+

On Discipline

The word discipline gets a bad rap. Most people think it means obeying rules, doing things you don’t want to, and being punished if you do something wrong.

In reality, discipline is another word for sustained practice. It means having the willpower to take effective action over a period of time.

For things that are good for you, for example exercising regularly, having discipline means:

  1. getting started
  2. doing it on a regular basis
  3. practising how to get better
  4. pushing through when things get difficult

Cultivating discipline makes you the kind of person who keeps on going, despite the challenges, whether they are internal or external.

In this way, minimalism is a discipline. It doesn’t come naturally to most people. Nobody said it would be easy to relearn a lifetime’s worth of conditioning about money and material possessions, and to learn to care less what other people think of you. You will face these kinds of internal and external challenges, but discipline—sustained practice—will get you to where you want to be.

To practice means committing to do small actions, with intent. Maybe you give away an old cardigan, maybe you hold off  getting a new phone for another year, maybe you decide you don’t need that kitchen gadget after all…

Small decisions add up to big consequences. Especially when there are hundreds, or thousands of them to make every day. It takes discipline to not get distracted.

Like regular exercise, minimalism takes practice to get past temptations and incorporate it into every day life. Sometimes you’ve had a hard day and you just want some cake and a bit of retail therapy. That’s fine, you deserve to treat yourself occasionally, just not at the long-term expense of your overall happiness. Make things easier by surrounding yourself with like minded people, or blogs and books that remind you of why you’re doing it—of why you do anything really—for a better life.

A better life won’t just fall on your lap. If it was easy, everyone would be happy, but happiness takes a lot of work.

And a lot of work takes a lot of discipline.

Published by Jessica Dang via Minimalist Meditations | rss | tw | fb | g+

 

On Abundance

It seems like a contradiction, but having an abundant mindset is essential for living a minimalist lifestyle.

The reason why most people buy and keep too much stuff is because they’re scared.

They’re afraid that if they don’t buy something they’re missing out, and if they throw something away there won’t be a chance to have it again.

They have a mindset based on scarcity so they take whatever they can, and they hoard money or clothes or whatever they have in case it runs out, or in case they need it in the future.

But if you thought that there was plenty to go around, you wouldn’t mind having only what you actually needed, because you know you could always get more if you had to.

Which leads us to a beautiful paradox—in order to be comfortable with living with less, you have to believe that the world is full of abundance.

You can always earn more money, buy more furniture, or replace winter sweaters. Be generous with what you have. There will always be more. If you don’t need it, it’s okay to let it go.

Published by Jessica Dang via Minimalist Meditations | rss | tw | fb | g+

On Kindness

Most people think it’s difficult to make changes in the world.

But every big change starts small. The smallest, easiest thing we can do to make a difference is showing a little kindness.

Imagine if every person you met left your company in a better condition than before. You would be well liked, have good relationships, and genuine friends.

You will lead a happier life. People will remember you as the worthy person you are, and would be much more likely to listen to what you have to say. It’s easier to get people on board if they think you are a good person.

When you show people kindness, you’ll learn lessons about yourself that can only be learned when you see yourself through other people’s eyes.

Let your kindness brighten up someone’s day, and they will pass it on to a stranger, who will pass it onto a colleague, who will pass it onto a loved one… one small act can snowball into affecting a dozen or even a hundred people. That’s how you make a difference.

The best thing is that kindness is free. A smile, a compliment, a thank you note—these are things that don’t cost much. It’s a minimalist gift that keeps on giving.

Published by Jessica Dang via Minimalist Meditations | rss | tw | fb | g+

On Meaning

What does minimalism mean?

It is often misunderstood as a lifestyle choice, reserved only for the rich who can afford it, for the young who have the time, or for the single monks who want to ditch everything they own.

But in reality, you don’t have to be rich, or young, or willing to live in a cave. You can be the person who works fifty hours a week to make ends meet. You could be retired and want a new start in life. You could have a huge family with all of the clothes and toys that comes with having four kids.

Minimalism is more of a philosophy than just a lifestyle choice. It is a way of thinking that questions the way most of us are raised—to value physical possessions as a way to prove our worth.

Minimalism rejects this. You don’t need a nice car to ‘prove’ that you are successful. You don’t need designer clothes or a holiday home to ‘prove’ that you are worth anything. It’s what you do that matters, not what you have. That’s what minimalism means.

In the same way, minimalism is not about what you don’t have. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to get rid of everything you own. So what if you have a few trinkets, books, or photos you want to keep? You can have whatever you want as long as it adds value to your life.

There are no set rules in minimalism. It’s not a club that says you can’t join unless you’ve reduced your wardrobe to five shirts and four socks. Anybody who believes they deserve a better life is welcome.

Minimalism is about removing distractions, no matter what they are, and it’s different for everybody.

Minimalism is about making room for what matters, no matter what it is, and it’s different for everybody.

Minimalism means a happier life.

Published by Jessica Dang via Minimalist Meditations | rss | tw | fb | g+

Welcome

Welcome to Minimalist Meditations.

You may be a reader from my 7 year old blog, Minimal Student, or perhaps you are a brand new reader who happened to stumble upon here. Either way, I’m glad you’ve found this corner of the Internet.

Minimalist Meditations is a project that I have been incubating for a long time. I loved writing for my original blog, Minimal Student, which I started at the beginning of my minimalist journey when I was actually a student. Over the past few years, it has built a strong community of readers, and I’m pleased to announce the next stage of the journeythis new site, Minimalist Meditations.

I have changed a lot over the years, and so have the topics I like to write about. You can find out more on my About page. The short version is that I’m no longer a student, and I wanted to grow the blog to include readers who aren’t necessarily students either.

Over the next few months, I will be rebranding the original blog and social media to redirect here, where I will be writing more often. I intend to cover a variety of topics that have become more and more relevant to me since I was a student, such as work, money, time, relationships and more—all with a minimalist perspective of course.

I will publish some of the original Meditations from Minimal Student, along with new posts in the next few weeks, which I hope will give you food for thought. You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or email.

If you have any comments or suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below, or get in touch with me via Twitter or Facebook.

Here’s to many more happy years of minimalism.

All the best,

J