This post was originally written in 2010. I think it contains some good information on the idea of minimalism. While not exactly related to what I usually write about, I decided to keep it. 🙂 Enjoy!
Have you ever felt really confused? Not sure what to do next? Overwhelmed? Things taking too long?
Of course you have. Me, too. We all have.
Today, I want to talk a little bit about my view on this, and how it ties into minimalism, and what it has to do with a well known internet marketer, John Reese. I’m about to get rather philosophical on you, but I hope you’ll see how this stuff affects everything, including how effective we are as bloggers.
Your Mind As Energy
OK, I’m about to get a bit deep on you. Bear with me. 🙂
I personally believe that we are all a composite of spirit, mind and body. Our body is not us, but just a physical manifestation. A vehicle so people can, you know, recognize us and stuff. 🙂 Convenient in many ways. Our mind is a computational tool, consisting mostly of pictures and concepts. And then there is us – actual spiritual energy. We are, in actuality, separate from mind and body. This is my view.
Now, energy can be free flowing, it can be held in suspense, and it can be dispersed. Free flowing energy would be like a free flowing river. It is on the move. If that energy were held in suspense, it would be disturbed but stationary. For example, if you point two hoses at each other in opposite directions, the point where the water streams meet would be a stationary energy. Now, when energy is dispersing, it is shooting off in other directions. For example, you throw a rock into a pond and the water around it disperses quickly.
Being that we are energy, we manifest these three characteristics of energy. When flowing, things are moving for us. When held in suspense, we feel the need to slow down or we feel stuck and we tend to try to make others around us do the same. When dispersed, we “just need to get out of here” or your mind is going a billion directions at once.
Our energy is affected by outside energy if we let it. If you’re in a room with a lot of dispersed people, you tend to begin feeling dispersed. The world around us consists of a lot of energy of various forms. Even matter (or “stuff”) is simply energy held in suspense.
But, let’s think about that. Matter is energy held in suspense. Not free flowing. And we’re constantly surrounding ourselves with it. And the more and more of it you have around, you can feel rather dispersed or rigid, right? So, it seems to me that there might be a correlation between how much stuff we have around and how free flowing we can be.
Now, I’m certainly not advocating getting rid of all your stuff. I’m not saying to disown the world and go sit on a mountain somewhere, because I think that is exactly the wrong way to go. Life isn’t about sitting still. It is about flowing.
But, it starts to make you think about your own space and what you have in it. And are these things affecting your mind and energy? Are you able to flow when you have so much rigid and dispersed energy around you?
I know I just got all “weird” on you, but I believe that this is the foundation of why people endorse minimalism. And while I think some people go a little too far with it, I think there is definite ligitimacy to the idea.
John Reese Gets Rid Of His Stuff – All Of It
I am on John’s mailing list. I’m also a customer of his. So, I’ve known this was coming. But, yesterday, he sent out an email essentially saying he had sold all of his stuff and he intended to practice minimalism in earnest. His goal was pretty much exactly what I spelled out above, but in different words. By getting rid of all that stuff and just traveling, he’d be more “free flowing” and be able to come up with some killer ideas for his business.
You can read John’s email over on John Chow’s blog, where it was published as a guest post.
Everything John owns now fits into a backpack. He isn’t getting rid of his money or his investments – just his stuff.
This is such a far cry from the John of just a couple years ago. When I first met John Reese, it was at Izeafest in Orlando, FL. He drove to the bar in a Lamborghini. Parked it right out in front (surely a mix of protecting the car as well as the show-off factor). The dude was into stuff – I could tell.
John is a big believer in reducing distraction. He deleted his Twitter and Facebook accounts, for instance, because they were distracting and gave next to nothing useful to his life.
Coming Back To Reality On Minimalism
Not everybody can (nor would want to) do what John Reese did. For one, John isn’t married and has no children. Once you have kids, you can’t really do something like that (at least not as drastically).
I am married. I have 2 kids. I have a house, a mortgage, 2 cars in the garage, 2 animals, and – yes – my collection of stuff. I own several computers. My computer has 4 monitors attached to it. My office is rather cluttered. When I go out into the rest of the house, I have to step over the kids’ toys.
How is somebody like me supposed to practice minimalism? Or somebody like you?
The benefits are there, but doing it Reese-style just isn’t practical for most of us.
I think the answer is by doing it on a lighter level. In other words, minimizing things, but not going to an extreme. Some ways we can do that:
#1 – Get rid of excess stuff in our workspace.
I don’t know about you, but when I look around my office, there is a lot of unconfronted crap in it. I’ve got a bunch of internet marketing courses sitting around, for instance. They consist of a huge pile of DVDs that I’ll probably never watch again. I have a pile of magazines on my desk hutch. My drawers have stuff I’ll never use. Oh, and don’t get me started on my closet! The closet has become the wasteland of “shit I’ll use someday maybe”.
I think the clutter of our surrounding space is very much a reflection of what’s going on inside our heads. Remember, it is all about the energy and the outside world affects the inside world. If our spaces are cluttered, so are our minds. Clean the space and you allow the mental energy to free flow again.
There’s a REASON you do a “spring cleaning” and feel mentally clearer when you’re done. And, with that in mind, I think taking the time to clean out our space will do SO MUCH for our mental clarity.
Keep in mind that hiding the stuff from view isn’t the same as getting rid of it. Real freedom will come from getting rid of it. Where you draw the line is up to you.
#2 – Complete or Trash All Undone Things
Once again, looking around your office or home, you probably have things sitting around because you need to do something with them.
The pile of magazines you intend to read, the notes you intend to think about, the bills you need to file, the books you need to read. The list goes on and on. And on. Every little thing like this is a piece of mental energy held static.
So, what you need to do is get rid of it. Whatever action you assigned to that thing, either do it or decide you don’t need to do it. You’ll probably find that a lot of those little “someday” tasks don’t need to be done. They’ll add nothing to your life and if you never do it at all, it won’t affect a thing. So, why worry about it? Why hang on to the thing which represents that task? Just trash it.
#3 – Brain Dump
This isn’t so much about tending toward minimalism as much as it is about mental clarity. Because the thoughts we keep in our heads, held there, become a bit like matter. When you try to keep a thought in your head and remember, you’re holding that energy stationary. And remember, we want flow.
So, get it out of your head. If you’ve been hanging onto some ideas or to-do items, get them out of your head. Put them on paper, into Evernote – whatever works for you. And as time goes on, get into the habit of moving these things out of your head and into another form. I’m personally a big fan of Evernote for this kind of thing.
#4 – Re-Evaluate
Sometimes, you just need to sit down and re-evaluate some of your basic assumptions. Most of the rules we abide by in life are not actual rules, but ideas we created for ourselves, follow rather blindly and forgot we’re the ones who came up with it in the first place.
Life and the world around us is EXTREMELY moldable when you realize that it responds to us, and not us to it. Regardless of what some losers teach, about how we are just animals who need to adapt to our environment (bah!), the truth is that we very much build our own cages in life.
So, sometimes, you just need to question some of your basic assumptions. Do you think it was easy for John Reese to sell his house? I mean, the dude now has no home! That goes right against what many of us would see as a basic fact of life – the fact that you need a place to live. But, do you? It is just an assumption that we’ve all agreed with.
So, learn to write your own rules. Do you HAVE to check your email every day? I doubt it, yet most of us religiously do it out of perceived necessity. As bloggers, do you HAVE to be active on Twitter and Facebook? I doubt it, but most assume you need to be. Do you have to pick up the phone when it rings? No. Do you have to blog every day even when you have nothing to say? No. Do you have to read other blogs as much as you do? Probably not.
Re-evaluate your actions and possessions. You’re the boss and you make the rules.
Lots of stuff adds time to our lives. Time to deal with it, maintain it, think about it. It holds energy, and being that we all consist of energy, it begins to hold us.
I think there is a definite truth in the idea of minimalism. How people take it from there and interpret it for themselves is up to them. John Reese did it his way and I look forward to hearing more from him on how its going. For most of us, going that drastic just isn’t in the cards. If I sold all my stuff, my wife would be pretty pissed. 😉
I encourage you to practice the 4 points above and see how it impacts your life and your mental clarity.
For me, I’m going to be reducing stuff in my office. These internet marketing courses are going to be digitized and then thrown away or given away. The magazines are going in the trash can. Anything that sits in my office as an incomplete action is going to be trashed. I might end up with some empty storage space. 🙂
What about you?