Are you familiar with the word Minimalism? I recently heard about this movement called Minimalism, I guess you could call it a new ideal of Minimalism. In my own words, it seems to mean to live without the need of “things” and to stick to the basic elements. Yet, this does not mean you have to live without. Rather, you have certain possessions that you enjoy or appreciate instead of amassing a bunch of stuff.
For the last few months I have had some attention and looked into such things as Minimalism, Small Houses and other things like this. I have even listened to a podcast called The RV Entrepreneur, which is a husband and wife who travel around the country and run their business entirely remotely and from their RV. They also interview other RV Entrepreneurs and discuss the different business’s that are run by people who want to be able to travel and have a non-location based business.
For some reason the tiny house, minimalism and RV Entrepreneur thing is interesting to me. I just can’t put my finger on what it is and why I am interested in it.
I have to admit that I did not do much “research”, rather came across the idea while listening to a podcast. I then looked into it a little bit more and found a documentary called, The Minimalist. There are two guys, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, who are considered THE Minimalists and can be found at their website at www.theminimalist.com.
If you are reading this, you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with divorce. The answers is “nothing”. I frequently write articles about myself, family and thoughts and this is one of those posts.
But getting back to the Minimalist thing. It really did make me think. Sure, at first I thought this was the typical hippie movement or nomad type lifestyle, and there is a certain element of that, but I started to think how this would or could or does affect the way I think.
And the way it made me think is that we don’t need all these things in life we collect or just hang onto. It made me think of the things I have held onto and why I still have them.
For instance, for me it was clothes. I asked myself why I have kept clothes that I have not worn in 5 years. Things like suites, shirts, etc., that have just sit in my closet for more than 5 years.
There are different ways to interpret how Minimalism and different ways to make change. For me it was as simple as deciding to get rid of some clothes. After watching this documentary and talking about the points of the film, we went into our walk in closet and started getting rid of things.
For me it was easy. I have always been an A to B kind of guy. Once I make a decision, it is very hard to get me to change my mind. I went through my closet and very indiscriminately and without much thought, tossed out anything I had not worn in the last 30 days!
Yep, 30 days. I threw out suites, shirts, shoes, ties, you name it. I just tossed it on the floor. By the time I was done I had five, 40 gallon sized trash bags full of clothes. I dragged all 5 bags into the garage and into my car to take to drop off to donate.
My wife, while enthusiastic, and having 10 times the clothes that I have, ended up with 2 bags. Not bad!
The point is that this was our way of minimizing our things. We did not decide right there to sell everything, but we did make some changes. And I think it is these small changes in thought that is what this Minimalism thing is all about.
To be on honest, what I really drew from the Minimalism film is that these folks that went all in did not feel the need to amass things. They had very few things compared to the rest of the world, but the things they had were important, and usually high quality.
Instead of having thousands of things of low quality that they never used, they had only a few items of high quality that they enjoyed and took care of. Clothing that fit them well and was of high quality or that they just liked enough to be part of their small wardrobe.
That is the thought process I took on when I went through my closet. If I didn’t wear it in the last 30 days, It obviously was not something I would need. In fact, since this experiment we will call it, I have not missed or needed anything I got rid of.
In fact, this exercise of getting rid of stuff was quite freeing. I don’t know why or how this is. It is just how I felt.
Since then I noticed I have a different thought process on “stuff”. I don’t feel like I need to buy “stuff” just for the sake of buying things.
But the most interesting thought change is what I do decide to buy. Because I know I am not buying stuff just to buy stuff and collect things and now purchase better, higher quality things that I know I will use.
An example of this is in a pair of Flip Flops I bought. Yep, good old sandals. You see, I usually just buy a pair of cheap sandals at the store and probably go through 5 or 6 pair a year. (I love wearing flip-flops). I never took much care of them and would leave them lying around the house. Most of the time my dog will get mad at me for not taking him on a walk and will take a flip flop and chew it up. This never mattered to me much because they were cheap and I could easily replace them.
But with my new thought process on things, I decided to purchase a pair of flip flops that I really liked. I had my eye on this company called, Combat Flip Flops. They make several products, but what i really liked was their flip flop called, AK-47. They are a flip-flop that, to me, are just super cool and were created by Veterans and have their product sourced in high conflict areas. This particular set of flip flops have AK-47 shell casings embedded into the sandal themselves.
These flip flops were not the most expensive, but I would not call them cheap. They were $50 bucks, when I would normally spend $1o or less on a pair of sandals.
The point is that I really liked them and having just received them and wearing them, want to make sure to take care of them.
I think this is idea behind Minimalism. To have things that matter, not just having things for the sake of having them.
I have also heard of the word Hyper Consumerism. I can’t remember if I heard it in this same film, a podcast or another documentary, but it refers to a culture which simply just keeps on buying stuff. I never really noticed it as it is certainly built into our culture, but now that I have heard of it I see it all around and I no longer want to be part of it.
My wife and I have always been a bit frugal and try to make good decisions and will often put things back when shopping after putting them in our cart, either because we don’t want to spend the money, realize we don’t need it or just don’t see the value in it. But we still do our fair share of consuming things.
My wife and I think much differently. I am not sure why I have grown an interest in this, but I have made some change. I honestly feel I could do with much, much less, but it seems that society has certain molds that we need to fit into.
As I get older I care less and less about what people think about me or what I do, but we still have kids in our house that do. But as they get older I see things changing for us.
I mentioned a podcast called The RV Entrepreneur. This is a young husband and wife traveling in an RV and working on their business while interviewing other full time RV Entrepreneur. It is quite interesting and I personally feel that this is something I could do.
Again, I don’t know what exactly is attracting me to this lifestyle, but I have to admit it is there. Over the last few weeks I have sort of brought it up with my wife in a nonchalant way. First, I said, ” oh I am listening to this podcast where this couple works from their RV and there are many people that are traveling the world and working, etc.”
She entertains me by listening, but I can tell she is not into it and comes up with the same and many times valid reasons why we can’t do it.
Over the last 20 years of our marriage, I have always been the dreamer and she has always been pragmatic. Admittedly, this is frustrating, especially considering that she is right 99.9% of the time and but for her I would not be the success I am today and in the past. I tell her this all the time so this is no surprise to her.
I tell her that I could sell everything and live in our RV and run my divorce business from it. She travels for business and I figured we could travel to her work destinations as needed so we could always be together. While she appreciates this, she really likes to have a place called home.
For now I will just continue to be a minimalist in the way that makes sense to me. That will be not buying things unless they truly add value and not to purchase things for the sake of having them. As for my nomad aspirations and running my divorce business from the road in an RV, that will have to wait.