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A woman in my building had much of her extensive Vuitton collection cast down the garbage shoot by a jilted lover. As each piece disappeared she worried. He told her she must be losing it. I guess she was.

I was interested to discover who this woman might be without her usual shield of Epi Leather in every colour, without her hundreds of Chopard and Cartier sunglasses to cover her eyes in the elevator (apparently he made away with these also), but I didn’t have the chance because she left the building soon after.

It seems so deliciously perverse and yet maybe she really needed him to help her let go of that bullshit.

I’ve kind of leveraged this precedent, ruthlessly disposing of anything that stops me from letting go, regardless of whether it is weighted in hours of time invested or carats or hand-stitched hours. It’s possible to grow obese on the past and still be whippet thin. As I dragged several bags to the larger rubbish skip this morning, I was not longer being dragged: I was the one dragging. Things aren’t things but energy fields, and I can only carry so much energy with me before it becomes a paralysing weight.

Lightness is an incredible luxury. Magic resonates at the finest and lightest of octaves. Peace is as free and light as a breath.

IMAGE VIA

Guy Bourdin
Self portrait
c. 1950
© The Estate of Guy Bourdin, 2013

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I’ve come across people who read a lot of books, hundreds of books each year, and are still incredibly banal in their views. Yes, this really is possible.

What is it that they are seeking when they read? Is it intellectual domination? Are they seeking to control the world with their knowledge? Is it an earnest belief in the goodness of betterment?

If these are your intentions, one can’t help but be banal. From our banalities spring our breakthroughs. We must be first trite to become contrite.

I have pursued knowledge, possessions, control. I appreciate firsthand that superficial solutions create a superficial experience of life. Those who seek higher awareness are those who have grown tired of their own superficiality. They have reached the back of ordinary experience.

If you’re really clever, you don’t need to read a lot of books. If you’re really rich, you don’t need a lot of money. If you value yourself from your essence, external validation starts to seem highly unnecessary. From higher awareness, our need becomes to appreciate rather than seek gains. We seek the company of people who help us to appreciate the beauty and joy of life. We seek to appreciate all things and therefore be sustained by all things. We choose what is appreciative of who we are. We take action that expresses our love and appreciation.

This is my case for less: we don’t need more than an intention to appreciate and love. That’s the ultimate in travelling light.

IMAGE VIA

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 1.18.44 PMThis recent article in The Atlantic seemed to annoy a lot of its commenters. Generally dismissive, they were almost universally convinced that minimalism was just another puritanical cult. In truth, Minimalism – like with all isms – isn’t punishing or puritanical unless you are.

The new minimalism is about freedom. Some people don’t want to be free. There is a part of me that would enjoy living in a cage. Some people take it further and need rules as a fetish object. On the whole I do however generally prefer principles that – rather than enslaving me – allow my life to become nurtured and cultivated.

The new minimalism is about lovingly letting go of what isn’t important to you so you can make room for what is. If you love floral sofas and bowls of roses and collecting lace handkerchiefs, you can still succeed as a new minimalist.

The aim is to make room for what is important to you, and let go of all the compulsory consumption, goals and aspiration. Letting go of obligations and status symbols allows us to give ourselves more completely to what we really do value.

So much of what we consider the necessities – mindless consumption, owning a car and house, status symbols, more of everything – are in fact burdens. Until we give ourselves permission to redefine what is valuable, we can waste decades of our life pursuing other peoples’ gods.

 

Minimalism as joy, not dogma or torture

 

There is no one perfect model for minimalism. The new minimalism should make your life happier and more free. It is not an exercise in deprivation. If you are trying to prove your superiority to others in any way, you are doing it wrong. If you think your way is the only way, you are doing it wrong.

 

You make the rules

 

Drab bourgeois societal standards bringing you down? In the new minimalism, you get to decide if you want to drive a car, or ride a bike, or have no car at all.

If you love beautiful cars, you can embrace it and drive a car you love. You don’t even have to drive it. You can just own it and look at it and ride a bike instead if you want. Your life, your rules.

And if you don’t really, truly care at all about cars, don’t buy one. If you live somewhere that require a car, you can pick something you can actually afford and pay for it with cash.

The new minimalist fills their life with the things that reflect their order of values. They don’t try to be someone they are not. They don’t waste their time trying to meet someone else’s ideas of the good life.

 

The freedom of less

 

Not having to do things is a wonderful freedom. Not having to think about possessions: cleaning, storing, organising, makes incredible space for new things to enter our lives. Not having to be a certain way in order to be good enough is the beginnings of a joyful life.

Just having only the things you really love and want in your life means you focus on that love. Managing your life becomes easy. You become free to travel and move about freely if you wish. You don’t need to devote financial resources to obligations and maintenance of illusions.

 

The truth about greed

 

The days of blithely consuming greedily while half the world struggles to survive must finally come to an end. It isn’t glamorous to show off your excesses while others are starving. It’s actually kind of sociopathic. Modern society is sociopathic and we need to step off the ferris wheel.

We don’t need to deny ourselves the good life. But we do need to think less about consumption and more about contribution. Our competitive instinct to be more than others will only separate and alienate us from the rest of humanity. Having too much is not the success it might have once appeared to be. Connecting, serving and loving are far greater joys than loving.

 

Do you really need it?

 

You can reconsider every idea you have about what you do and don’t need. Most of our apparent needs from day to day are just addictions to having more apparent control. But owning doesn’t give you control. The thing you are buying today will within a few months become something you would be best to throw into the rubbish. Honesty about our consumption and expenditures needs to become our habit.

Define your own needs and desires

 

The new minimalism requires that you discover what is really important to you. This is why it is so profoundly important. Making more space in your life for what is important supports you in creating a life that honours your truth. It is an act of self-love and self-respect.

Wasting your money disrespects your time and energy. It limits you to living a life that means nothing to you.

 

Aim for one, or even none

 

We think we need three homes and thirty handbags and three hundred pairs of shoes. It’s a joke. There is no substitute for the freedom and simplicity of having one excellent handbag, one great pair of boots, one lovely coat.

We think we need three homes and thirty handbags and three hundred pairs of shoes. It’s a joke. There is no substitute for the freedom and simplicity of having one excellent handbag, one great pair of boots, one lovely coat.

Maybe you don’t even need to own any skirts if you don’t like wearing them? Why force something for the sake of it? Assume that you can at least reduce what you own by 50%. And then 50% again. And again.

Be discerning

 

Discernment is not judgment. Discernment is choosing not to have something in your life because it doesn’t serve YOU.

It doesn’t mean that this thing is wrong in and of itself. Think in terms of what serves you and what undermines you. Go for what serves you. Question and consider and examine the truth about your needs and values.

 

Invest in yourself and your joy

The new minimalism frees up your resources to invest in what is important to you and what brings you the greatest joy. If you don’t need to own a large home, you can maybe start working three days a week instead of five. You can maybe take a job that pays half but that you actually enjoy.

If you start to home school your children and grow your own vegetables, you can work one day a week instead of three. Choose what you love. The less money you spend on the unnecessary, the more you can direct to what brings you the greatest pleasure. The more time you can spend on cultivating your gifts. The more money you will have to give to people who haven’t had the same freedom and opportunities that you have.

Cultivate an appreciation of less

Sit in a chair and let yourself enjoy the silence. Eat a meal and don’t finish every bight. Schedule time to do nothing. Decide to think less and worry less and do less this week. Make space.

The new minimalism is an acquired taste. It requires going against the popular instinct for more. The deeper you go into it, the more delightful it becomes. It is a healthy appetite to cultivate.

If we choose to become more easily satisfied, then we choose to become someone who takes less from the world and creates more joy.

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One of the big advantages of minimalist living, I feel, is that it gives us less stuff to worry about. We discover how little we need, and  we don’t have to worry about maintaining or affording everything.

Regardless of how much money you have, having stuff is stressful. When you have less and need less, you can let go of a huge chunk of your worries.

Minimalism is great training because it teaches you how little you need to thrive, and how having less is actually lighter and more freeing than having more. And it places trust in the world that if you do need something, it will be provided.

There are a lot of emotions and thoughts you really don’t needs. These are unloving thoughts and emotions. Much, if not all of our material hoarding reflects our inability to let go of things at the emotional level.

We might want control over how we feel, so we will hold on to things. A person who hoards old clothes is a person who is investing unnecessary energy into controlling their image. A person who hoards possessions is manifesting their internal anxiety of never having enough.

Stuff consumes energy that we could better direct elsewhere. Some kind of trauma is what will make us hold on to things, whether material or psychic debris.

Letting go of material possessions forces us to face the emotions that we have been repressing. And inversely, letting go of the emotions themselves makes letting go of excess materialism and possessions much easier.

What emotions need to be detoxed and released so that we can be free and light and direct ourselves into what is really important?

– Worry

Minimalism with our worries is a state of mind whereby you don’t feel you need to worry in order to protect yourself. In fact, if you worry less, you’ll have more: more freedom and energy to create the things you really want.

Worry comes from a lack of trust in ourselves and for life to provide us with what we need, as we need it.

The thing about worry is that it weakens us. It lowers our energy. It makes us serious. It blocks our ability to think creatively and to create.

Worry is also potentially endless. Regardless of how much prosperity we have, we can always find another hundred worries to consume our attention. It’s extremely unproductive.

– Obligations

Feeling obligated to hold on to commitments and relationships in order to be a good, responsible person comes from a fear that we are not good and responsible naturally, and so we need to give up our truth and our priorities in order to become good.

Letting go of the idea that you need to compensate for a lack of goodness by fulfilling certain requirements is a liberation.

– Past baggage

We all have big and small traumas that we carry with us and make it hard for us to enjoy life. Trauma takes up space.

Holding on to blame, shame and fear is something we might think we are supposed to do to protect ourselves. It might seem necessary to hold on to a grudge, but this protection takes up a lot of space that could be used more productively. It could be used for love, for instance.

– Fear

Fears are also attempts to protect us from what we don’t want. But the problem with fear is that it blocks inspiration and new things from coming to us, because our energy is directed to protecting ourselves. Too much protection equals too few leaps of faith and joy.

What does emotional minimalism bring into our lives?

– Space

– Lightness

– Freedom

– Peace

– Inspiration

How to achieve emotional minimalism

1. Auditing what we are holding on to

If we are afraid of our traumas and pain, we might want to pretend they don’t exist. We might want to stuff them into our closets and spare rooms and garage and lock the doors.

This denial wastes our resources and is unproductive. Bringing our emotional baggage into the light is the first step in letting it go. Becoming conscious of your fears and pain can be done with the help of a therapist or by journaling your fears.

2. Releasing what is holding us back

It’s time to release the baggage, process the junk and send it on its way. Let it out. Release it. Dissolve it with light and love.

If someone else is taking care of all our worries, that certainly lightens our load. And we need to be light and open in order to receive love and inspiration.

Where can we find the thing that will take on all our worries for us? Prayer offers our fears and worries up to the universe and asks for guidance and protection. It lets them go, and lightens our load.

3. Trusting that we don’t need to hold on

Our life will be better without the burden of fear and pain. Holding on just perpetuates the past.

Moving forwards allows us to create a future where the past and its pain doesn’t harm us anymore. This is the healthy choice.

4. Refusing to let in troubling thoughts

Minimalism requires saying no to what isn’t necessary or loving. Saying no to unloving and fearful thoughts is like saying no to extra stuff that you don’t need.

We can simply use an NLP technique and say “NO!” out loud when we have an unloving thought. We can observe our thoughts and release anything we are dwelling on that isn’t serving us.

This takes discipline. A daily practice of mediation and prayer is the perfect training for letting go.

5. Cherishing what you love and what brings you love

Make love your standard and give it to yourself. Embrace the things and thoughts that create more love in your life, whatever they are. Create a mantra of love in your mind.

Many of the thoughts and feelings we think we need, we actually don’t need. We only need a few good, inspired, loving thoughts, and our life will be exponentially better.

IMAGE VIA TUMBLR AND VIA REVELMENT.

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 1.49.01 PMIt blows my mind how powerful de-cluttering is. Any time I’ve gone through my life and released what I no longer need, I’ve found myself flung forwards as if by a ram-jet.

Keep in mind that when you let go of things, you return them into circulation. They are free to continue their journey, and so are you. I’m not just talking about old shoes or bed sheets. I’m talking about relationships, jobs and ideas too.

It’s strange how much clings to us, particularly when we let our get grab around continually in the get, get, get mode of Ego.

At a certain point it just becomes boring too carry so much around with you. Freedom requires that we are travelling relatively lightly, I’ve found. So much of growing requires letting go of the old to make room for the new. The new we seek is not so much new things but rather a new ability not to need, know, or be certain about or attached to anything.

The idea of letting go is pretty freaky. I’ve been pondering my move to minimalism for what is YEARS now, making small steps and building my nerve. Last Friday morning I finally cut my hair to shoulder length, something I’ve not been brave enough to do for almost two years now. Can you even believe me? My hair is quite nice cut long, and so I almost felt guilty about cutting it. How dare I lop off carelessly what other people pay thousands to have in extensions and styling? This sort of thinking is a killer: “how dare I …

– “quit this job others would be desperate to have?”

– “move from a house so many others would we delighted to live in?”

– “take these clothes to the charity shop when they are perfectly good?”

It goes on and on and on.

I do think our holding on to things mainly comes down to this lack of courage, pure and simple.

If I was to think of the simplest and surest way to become more courageous, I would suggest that courage comes most effortlessly when we start filling our lives with things that inspire us. We find new energy, are filled up, and are prepared to take big leaps. Courage doesn’t have to be painful.

What do I no longer wish to take on my journey? What do I want to let go of?

The Soul Powered Person asks these questions continually and lets go of what doesn’t support their growth.

Need some min-spiration? Time to link share.

Miss Minimalist

Mnmlist

Becoming Minimalist

Be more with less

You might not know it but there’s a whole world of de-clutters out there, ready and waiting to help you through.

Image from ViaHouse.

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For the first time perhaps ever, I saw something of myself reflected back to me in the shape of Lindsay Lohan. It wasn’t that we’d both recently starred in a film with James Deen. It was more to do with an interview taken a few years back which I only just watched, showing her LA house stuffed to the brim with clothes, shoes, excess. It reminds me of the life I had back home, albeit now bulging out of storage boxes. So many clothes, so many shopping trips, too little room, attention, energy. But I’m not alone.

I have a friend who’s CEO of a high fashion retail site. He’s throughout bemused by his female clients. “One woman has spent $60,000 this year already,” he tells me, giggling. “When we have a pop-up sale, the women are like animals. For some reason, even if they have no money, these women will find money for a Givenchy handbag. What a fantastic industry.” Though delighted by his commercial successes, he can’t conceal his ambivalence.

I gulp. This is me – perhaps not so extremely, but I contain some of this craziness. My mother once tried to tell me I might be ill. I wasn’t impressed. I’ve always had a passion for art, design, clothes, and it’s not just me showing off or filling a void. I love beautiful things. But I’m observing a bit change afoot. I’m starting to dream of less. Much less. Of one handbag. Of five pairs of shoes. This, to me, is the new elegant. This is freedom. This is about higher-discernment, refinement, simplicity.

In a world where luxuries abound, their excess can become anything but luxurious. When our closets, suitcases and waists bulge to breaking point the financial and feng shui burden grows toxic, not to mention repulsive. How can we live in the modern world of endless temptation and not get swept away in it? After being away for more than two years, I think I have the answer. The solution lies in valuing freedom and simplicity more than variety and extravagance. It’s common to see women reach a “certain age” whereupon they realise who they really are, what really suits them, and that they haven’t time for anything else. They crave simplify, because time is running out. Perhaps I’ve arrived there prematurely? God knows I’ve experimented enough to earn it.  When it comes to minimalism, this is the life-affirming, joyful kind. No punishment or deprivation.

1. If I had a year left to live, would I wear this?

Brutal. It works. I might keep those sequinned vintage Roberto Cavalli jeans after all. Why wear anything else?

2. Is it an “absolute yes”?

Cheryl Richardson suggests this question. It’s similar to the above. The message: don’t settle for less that absolute satisfaction. As one of my good friends always says: “the poor man buys twice.”

In simple terms, if you really do feel like a hamburger, don’t force down a fillet mignon. Or vice versa. Let yourself have the things you really want. Get over it. Saying an absolute yes does require that you know what you really want. This gets confusing: there are should wants, and do wants.

There was a fab piece in the March 2013 issue of O Magazine, where Oprah revealed how she’d followed every trend. Millions of dollars later she is only just realising what she really likes. Her transition came when an interior designer told her that her home had nothing to do with her. She’d scoffed. But her friend (!!!) Maria Shriver set her straight: “It has everything to do with who you thought you were, who you wanted to be, who you might’ve been at the time, but if it ever was really you, none of this is you anymore.” Ouch. That’s what real friends are for, all the same.

Consider, then: is it possible that your possessions are mainly a fantasy about who you thought you might be, a fantasy that has come and gone? Oprah makes a helpful point. “Over time your sense of self evolves. Hopefully, you grow into a deeper, more thoughtful version of who you are. Your need to please falls away and what is left is the blessed realisation that you really don’t have anything to prove to anyone. At a certain point, you buy the shoes and pocket book that feel right, instead of the ones that will impress people.”

I agree that it takes time to learn what you like. Nothing helps this process more than becoming conscious of whether you are holding on to something as a way of trying to prove a point that isn’t real for you.

2. Fall in love with what you already have

An afternoon shopping your wardrobe can be more fun and much more economical than one spent walking Avenue Montaigne. Perception is everything, and familiarity breeds contempt that we need to work to keep in check. Enjoy what you have by playing dress ups, cleaning out, and reorganising. Take your clothes out on dates and reassess whether you still feel the same way.

3. Get rid of the things that never really worked

The first question in Too Good To Leave, Too Bad to Stay, by Mira Kirshenbaum, is to ask:

“Think about that time when things between you and your partner were at their best. Looking back, would you now say that things were really very good between you then?”

You know what I mean. The shorts that were always riding up. The jeans that you couldn’t ever dare dream of sitting in. Donate those trousers to charity and let someone else feel fat.

4. Let yourself experiment … keep the energy circulating.

You can get steals on eBay, see what works, and flip the hubris a few months later. Keep the energy moving. Too many wise purchases can be just as much of a drag because you don’t have good reasons to ditch them. There are reasons why we get bored of our stuff for no good reason. We love change. We love new energy.

5. If you can’t say no, you can’t say yes. Check your mood.

Are you shopping to binge? Consider: are you feeling bad about yourself for some reason? This is a bad time to shop. Go and get a massage instead, and don’t detour past Chanel en route.

6. Let go of the guilt

You don’t need to apologise for not finishing your meal.  A meal in your stomach is not doing more good than in the bin. Order next less time, perhaps? But don’t feel guilty for letting go.

7. It’s actually possible you don’t need it.

Shocking, I know. You can watch your desires come, grow and pass. You don’t even need to engage with most desires. Let them pass. Give them a week or two to blossom. True love waits.

“Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Image from Vogue Italia.