the story so far

Minimalism: Understanding Happiness

As an over-thinker and a daydreamer, it doesn’t surprise me about myself that I am always looking for a solution. To everything.

I fancy myself a do-er, not an idealist, however, and because I’ve been so stuck in the same life for so long, it makes me crazy to think that progress is not being made. I have set myself countless goals which I have not achieved, though it is certainly not for a lack of effort. Still, I would not consider these to be failings, but rather detours. If I have proven anything to myself over time it is that I am a very determined individual who remains driven until it is clearly demonstrated that I am pursuing something which is simply not meant to be.

Some may call this stubborn or fool-hardy, but of all my qualities, it is one which I would not denounce but strive to perfect.

The things which I pursue have value to me and as such I cannot really regret the time spent giving chase. Even when these things fall through or cease to make sense, and even when I’m down and out about another dead end, retrospectively I can remain pleased and confident that my efforts are not really a waste of time or resources. I am an incredibly different, and dare I say improved, person for the efforts I have put forth.

They say that with age comes perspective, and though I am still very young, I can with certainty claim that I’ve done a lot of living and learning in my years. I have gained more perspective after each ‘failure’ than I would dream of having if I had not set out to do something in the first place.

I’ll stop beating around the bush. My life situation is not particularly conducive to the lifestyle I crave and dream about. But it’s what I’ve got and it’s the result of making the most of what I have, which is very little. I want to travel and I want to experience all people, and I want to be unhindered by the facets of living that I do not feel I need: settling down in one place forever, growing roots in any physical location, having the trappings of what many would call ‘home’.

A huge part of that desire to travel is the desire to be free. To feel that I can roam the earth with few possessions and few ties, and not be confined. I want to experience people not so that I can take from them what I can and move on, but rather so that I can learn from them, and give back in due course, and share whatever I gain with people in my next locale. I want to add something to every place that I go, not because I consider people or places to be lacking something I can magnanimously give, but because there will be no place I can go where there is not unmet need. These are my driving motivations.

And yet this life of travel and service is not the most practical. I have a family and those I care about who are desperate for me to forge roots. I have debts that need paying, especially student loans, which I will be paying for the rest of forever (and for what? a degree in philosophy – maybe I do have some regrets…) I have commitments which, yes, I could break eventually without too much trouble, but some of these I am reluctant to throw away. I have good things in my life, very good things, which simply couldn’t go with me.

Because of this perspective I have chosen recently to look deeper at those motivations, and to try once again to think outside the box. Desiring to be unfettered by possessions and locations can be done in other ways than having no place to call home. Serving others can be done in much more selfless ways than those which I exclusively pursue in far away places. Appreciating the beauty of the world and culture and people can be done without passing through time zones and language barriers. Sure, those are the ways I’d like to do those things. And I’m not saying I won’t do them that way eventually, maybe. I’m simply realizing that these opportunities are here already, and I don’t have to put time or money or significant resources into chasing them elsewhere when they’re here to be found.

What a novel concept…

I’ve probably thought all of this before, perhaps even written about it. I have a horrible memory, so I can’t recall. But since I am on Spring Break from teaching and in a rather proactive mood, I think that it is time for something to be done.

I watched a documentary recently about minimalism, and it gave me some fresh ideas. I’m going to begin my unfettered lifestyle today. It’s a win-win situation because if this step is as far as I go, then I’m that much freer, and if it continues from there to the freedoms I’ve long pursued, then I’ll be that much more ready when the day comes.

I read about Project 333. You can look it up. It’s a system of beginning your minimization in your closet. I’m not a fashion forward person to begin with and I don’t pay much attention to what I wear, but for all that I still have far more clothes than I need. All my possessions in the world are clothes, books, a record collection, toiletries, my bed, and my car. I’ve proven to myself that even as things stand I can fit all but my bed into my car quite easily, but I can do better. Check out Project 333. I think I’ll be beginning that, or a variation of it this very weekend, and I could not be more excited.

If I can begin one small step toward finding, right here, the happiness I’ve looked for elsewhere, what a joy that will be! I have recently weeded through most of my non-closeted possessions and gotten rid of all non-essentials. By the time I’m done doing the same with my clothing, there will be so much less clutter and less distraction in life. (Don’t even get me started on Tiny Houses!)

And that’s the key. We are unhappy because we bounce from one thing to the next, always distracted and always looking for instant mental stimulation, although rarely of an uplifting kind. When I have little to waste time on, my time can be diverted, saved really, for the real things, the valuable things.

So this is an extraordinarily long post simply to say; out with the old and in with the new. It’s time for Spring Cleaning: Lifestyle Edition. Wish me luck and I’ll keep you updated.

5 thoughts on “Minimalism: Understanding Happiness”

  1. I like this idea – reminds me of Walden Pond. I have an idea also about how you could do some traveling this summer. It’s an idea I wanted to try but didn’t think it would work for me.

    I have a great feeling it will work you! I’ll email you.

    Liked by 1 person

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