Poem of the moment | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/poem-of-moment/

A poem of the moment

These are just some thoughts, I think,
that came to me at the kitchen sink.
Does my mum love my dad,
and if so why are they so sad?

And does my dad love my mum?
What does it mean if love’s not there,
what happens to all the things they share?

I think some thoughts about me too,
like why my girlfriend left me, and what was I to do.
It was a long time ago,
maybe I should let it go?

Where will I be next year, where will I be next month?
I’ve moved back home to study, yet, done nought but worry.
I worry about the world, what the future brings,
With Brexit, Tories, and plethora other things.

I cannot see my future, no light at the end of the tunnel.
It seems like the job market is squeezed into a funnel.
I think I’ll get myself some land and grow my food to eat,
but land is so expensive now, and none of it for sale.

If only people could love each other,
without fear of being judged;
maybe we’d get somewhere and,
not blame the ‘immigrants’ for everything we can’t be arsed to do.

Ole Blighty ain’t a country, its just an island in the sea.
The quicker we can see that, the quicker its not just you and me.
The state’s and nations across the planet are nothing but a construct,
oh wait, so are these thoughts, I think I’ve done the washing up.

The Value of Voluntary Simplicity | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/voluntary-simplicity-gregg/

The Value of Voluntary Simplicity – Richard B. Gregg

Originally published in 1936, social philosopher Richard B. Gregg coined the term ‘voluntary simplicity’. As a Harvard graduate and later a student of Gandhi’s work, in this article Gregg explores the philosophical, intellectual, spiritual, social and very real reasons for adopting a simple life. Gregg was an influential author, with much of his work focused on creating non-violent social change, Martin Luther King, Jr cites him as an influence (Ansbro 1982).

As minimalists, we would do good to read this and deeper understand how a simpler life can create good in the world. Gregg’s article is an inspiration to many, including Duane Elgin who wrote a book titled, Voluntary Simplicity.

Download the PDF article: The Value of Voluntary Simplicity


Ansbro, John J. (1982). Martin Luther King, Jr: The Making of a Mind. Orbis Books. pp. 146-7, 149.

Time without clocks | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/time-without-clocks/

Time without clocks

Can you imagine a day without time? No need to be here, or rush to get there. Just, here, now?

I recently got back from a rock climbing trip. Three days spent camping, climbing & contemplating. All spent between a cliff and the sea with 5 others, all friends from our University’s climbing society (apart from one, who’s an honorary member). From the moment we met till the moment we parted, there was never a mention of the time. We had spent three days together, and not once been concerned about it. It was a magical experience. Something we all noticed.

Changes come with spring

It’s that time of year again: the days are just getting longer, there’s a rainbow of blossom, the sun is higher in the sky, and everyone seems just a little bit happier. For those of us in the education system, this means one thing: exams & deadlines!! A time where we want to be outside, but force ourselves to be at a desk, trying to learn that equation off by heart (the one that you’ll never have to remember), or linking social theories together in order to create a somewhat coherent theoretical framework for an essay. Days getting longer generally means more time to revise.

Getting away

It was with this in mind that the 6 of us planned a trip away: the calm before the storm. We arrived at the Isle of Portland Monday afternoon, parked our cars and hit the crag. The sweet afternoon warmth touching our skin as we climbed on the limestone. Spending the afternoon climbing, and with the sun beginning to set, it was time to find a spot to camp. We wanted to be right by the crag when we woke up, and (as with most students) we don’t have much money, so we decided to wild camp.

Sun setting over the horizon from the Isle of Portland

We found a beautiful spot, protected from the wind by two boulders, looking out onto the sea, a safe distance away from the cliff. As the moon woke from its slumber, we had finished putting our tents up. We heated our pre-made pasta and had a few beers before hitting the hay. Happy to be resting our weary bodies. Eager for the next day.

Awaken by the sun, we crawled out, and were surprised by the awe of the view we had half seen the night before. Endless sea in front of us, beautiful rock to climb behind us! Unfazed by it being early or late; we had coffee, cereal bars and chocolate spread; packed our tents away and went for a full day’s climb. Only stopping once to satisfy our stomachs with a local pub lunch. The day seemed to last forever and it was the reddish hues in the sky that hinted to us that we are nearing the end. Not a clock, telling us the day is over. Nor the fact the library is closing due to the Easter break. This evening a camp fire was in order. The spot we had adopted as home, had obviously been someone else’s before. Stones indicating a fire place were already there, and we only had to add the wood.

There is something special about sitting with friends by a campfire. The warm glow in everyone’s face, seems to bring people closer together. Flames twist and dance in the darkness of the sky, unaware of themselves, completely free. The spectators of the dance are in turn engulfed by a blast of smoke – as if to wake them up from their trance. Time is lost in these moments.

The final day came, and what a glorious day it was. The wind had died down, the sun was turned up to 11. A few uni friends, who lived in the local area, joined us for (what I imagine was) the afternoon. We got another full day of climbing in, ate couscous for lunch, and, alas, it was time to head home. Loading up our gear, we made a quick trip to the pub for dinner again, and then headed homeward. A journey back, back to reality, back to responsibility, back to work. We had to un-press the pause button, and be controlled by time once more.

Timelessness in a timed world

Back home, the very next day, I was in front of my laptop, typing away at an application for a conference I want to attend. I was thinking about dates and deadlines. Where I have to be next weekend, when I’m going to go here and how to meet them, there. Catching up with everything I had left behind. I had completely lost the timelessness of the previous three days. Life, once again, was in hyper mode and my brain was loving the adrenaline and dopamine kick from it.

Simultaneously, I instantly missed the serenity I had felt sitting in a harness 20m up a cliff with the sun on my back and sea breeze in my hair. This was a sign. A sign to take back control. Finding the moments of timelessness in a day and cherishing them. Meditating in the mornings, when the air is fresh, the birds are chirping and my mind is clear. To be present in my work and in moments of joy.

My realisation is that we need time to forget about time, from time to time.Click To Tweet

So find moments in your day when you can loose track of time.

Life as a high-functioning alcoholic | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/young-functioning-alcoholic/

Life as a high-functioning young alcoholic

Happiness is often seen as a place you arrive. Many of us search for it, without really knowing where to look. At a young age, I found that alcohol allowed me to feel the friendships I was dearly missing. I spent nearly every night of my undergraduate degree (plus the 1.5 years before) drunk. Every morning, a loud alarm, shower and a coffee were the only way I could feel awake. Despite this, I graduated with a 1st Class degree and produced and toured a documentary film around London during this time.

My drinking, however, was not evidence of a thriving social life or bouts of success. It was a confirmation of the loneliness I suffered from and the longing I had for intimate relationships with others. I know I’m not the only young person to suffer from loneliness. It makes me wonder how many of us turn to the bottle?

The first drink…

Do you remember the first party you went to where there was alcohol? I was 15, going to school friend’s party. She had moved to a different school – an all girls school – there were loads of new people to meet, especially of a different sex. The sexual curiosity of that age meant that we quickly moved to play ‘spin the bottle’. This night I experienced my first kiss, that same girl became my first girlfriend (which didn’t last once we sobered up). And the more I think about it now, this very night may have structured my whole basis for sexual relations & relationship building.

Most parties I went to afterwards increasingly evolved around alcohol & sexual encounters. My friend’s 16th, where someone proudly received their first blowjob. A 17th where someone threw up and blew their chance of getting with that guy they wanted. 18th parties where sex was apparently everywhere – along with drugs and cigarettes – including one where there was someone walking around with a tray of condoms. Every year there seemed to be a new addition to the toolbox of ‘fun’.

Apart from that fateful first kiss, I never ‘got with’ anyone at parties. I was that kid who wondered around trying to figure out what on earth was going on. Asking myself, “Why do I seem to just float?”; “Why am I even here?” As the evenings went on, I would grab another beer and then wonder around to find someone to talk to. Some conversations would last for a while, keeping me away from the isolation that seemed to be looming. But some conversations would be cut short by my partner, and I would be cast back into a world of confusion and self-pity. It seemed people just didn’t want to talk to or be with me; and it was during these times that I began to diminish my self-worth.

Free hugs!

I think it was at this young age when I first found the soothing cuddle of alcohol. Having ‘one more’ allowed me to feel comfortable, like I belonged. I used a bottle, and not long later a cigarette, as a barrier between the world and me. It felt safe. I thought I fitted in. This narrative was something I reiterated as I grew older. Little did I know that 5 years down the line I would have a drinking problem and wake up most mornings with a fuzzy head.

Culture clash

I grew up in a first generation immigrant family, well my mother was half-English but she had grown up in Turkey. So neither of my parents really understood British culture. I had been taught the strict and respectful manner of Turkish culture, which was different to the mannerisms and attitudes of my contemporaries. The cultural capital – social knowledge one has: in style of speech, dress, intellect, education (in & out of school) – that I had was a mishmash of two cultures that didn’t really fit, and I experienced this incompatibility through the awkwardness I felt with my friends at school.

Despite this, I was able to move through all the groups (maybe apart from the football one – I didn’t really like football) but that still only gave me a skin-deep sense of friendship. I felt most at home with the misfits, those of us that didn’t quite call ourselves that name (or any name) but certainly weren’t the ‘cool kids’. We weren’t the geeks either, however, perhaps we didn’t have a name, we were just sort of there. Wherever we were, it was there I was able to be myself and relax, yet it was a yearning to not be there that made me ache to be ‘cool’. I was not satisfied by the amazing friends I had in this group and wanted to ‘upgrade’.

Looking into the black of my eye

Towards the end of my bachelor degree, I started panicking about what I was going to do once it finished. After being asked “what do you want to be when you’re older?” all my life and still not having an answer, I felt stuck. How have I got to this stage of my life and do not know what I want to do? Is there something wrong with me? Panic and anxiety set in. Slowly, but very surely, a void began to emerge from within, as a subtle but definite sadness grew.

I had begun to ask myself questions around this time. Not extrinsic questions about jobs or positions or directions, but intrinsic queries. I started asking what I valued: about myself, about the world, my moral values, my ethical values; if I was really enjoying what I was doing? What did I regret doing in the last few months? Could I have said “no” to some of those things? Once I was able to shift my answers from analytical to honest, I realised that I’d been focusing on the wrong things.

Take 5

Meditation had a massive impact on enhancing the ability to analyse my self and my thoughts. I used the app called Headspace to get me started – and still use it daily. The increased awareness of my thoughts, and to watch negative conceptions from a distance, is indispensable to self-discovery. Practising mindfulness allows us to see ourselves in the present, rather than looking into the future or reminiscing on the past.

As the Headspace co-founder, Andy Puddicombe says: the present is so underrated, and yet we spend so little time in it. Studies show having a distracted mind is a direct cause of unhappiness, and in his TED talk, Andy cites that we spend nearly half of our time distracted. That means we might be spending nearly half of our lives potentially unhappy. There’s something deeply worrying about that. Meditation really allowed me to focus on now; to understand what I enjoy; to realise what I don’t enjoy. It doesn’t happen quickly, but taking the time to train your mind is invaluable.

Where I was…

No-one knew I had a drinking problem; I was always on top of everything I needed to do, was always at university & I had spent two years successfully producing a film. There was no doctor or medical professional who told me about it. None of my friends thought it – or at least not that I know of – and I had no major health issues. High-functioning alcoholism is problematic because as it is incredibly hard to detect.

Alcohol has been such a big part of my identity for the last 6-8 years: I worked in craft beer, I had done courses in wine tasting & spent time grape picking to fund a trip, even the film I produced was about the independent brewing industry in London. My knowledge of self was intimately intertwined with drinking and its culture. My social network had been built on the people I met in the London Beer scene: bars & their regulars, breweries & their critics.

I worked in pubs; and if you’ve ever worked in a bar, you’ll surely know the compulsive drinking that comes with the job. Alongside this, the band I was in had a massive culture around drinking and smoking, and after an awesome rehearsal & visit to the pub, I would head over to my local that was open till 3 am and drunkenly sip & smoke. I was adamant that this was my life, that I couldn’t change it, and that if I did I would disappear into nothingness. But most of all, I loved it.

Admitting I’m a young alcoholic

It was after over a year of self-analysis and self-development that I could finally see that I was, in fact, alcohol dependent. This was a truly petrifying moment. All of a sudden my entire reality came crashing. I no longer belonged anywhere. I was looking at my self, naked in the middle of nowhere. Nothing to describe who I was. No past or future. Now there was only the present. A blank canvas. This was the chance I had to answer the questions I had been asking over the past year and (re-)build my self.

The morning I woke up to this thought, in a hostel, was January 1st, 2017. It was the best hangover I ever had – well, at least the most productive. Once the initial headache wore off, and I had my (cold) shower I could see. It was like those mornings (or afternoons) you wake up after a heavy night and say, “I’m never going to drink again” – except this time I meant it.

Dry-January was a perfect chance to test the water. I breezed through, only having one glass of prosecco at my sister’s wedding (which I consciously decided to have). February, I started with all the energy of the previous month, tripping over one night when out with 4 friends and an awkward 2-for-1 deal. I didn’t punish myself for it though, I could see my weakness and have worked on strengthening it. The next time I was out with friends I abstained; the time after only had a half; recognising the urges that were building inside me each sip at a time).

Movin’ on up

I am still working on it. It is incredibly difficult to be 24 and not drink. Our whole society dictates that we do. Everyone I know wants to ‘get drunk’. It is terrible being the person who is ‘no fun’ because they don’t drink. You feel ousted by groups and as if you don’t belong (again). The challenge of not drinking is not only a physical one but overwhelmingly a psychological one. The psychological challenge is two-fold. Both fighting the urges to have a drink and, whilst mentally weak, trying not to be affected by the stigma and ‘otherness’ it brings you.

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, you don’t have to fight it alone. Reach out to your loved ones. But if, like me, you can’t do that, reach out to me (hello[at]youngminimalist.uk). I’d be happy to listen and offer my support.

Stay strong.

Becoming a minimalist | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/becoming-a-minimalist/

Becoming a Minimalist

Minimalism is a way of life, it is a philosophy based around value. Minimalist living is mostly concerned with decluttering our lives of tangible objects. Inherently in becoming a minimalist, we relieve ourselves of many of the possessions we own and create a simpler framework for our lives. This will happen naturally when we start to question what we truly value. If you haven’t read my brief exploration of the philosophy of minimalism read it here; an understanding of this will be useful.

Minimalism isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. No one person has the right method or framework, and don’t let anyone tell you they have. But there are many common themes that arise from those that have adopted a simpler way of life. I will go through them here and hopefully you’ll be able to see that the transition to simplicity is a possibility for everyone.

How we consume

We tend not to question what it is we are consuming. In fact, we don’t even realise we are consuming things half the time. Most of our day is spent absorbing some thing or another. We wake up and put the kettle on waiting for that burst of caffeine to wake us up, ignoring the fact that we’ve already started consuming electricity: turning on the lights, the kettle and the heating that automatically comes on. Throughout the day we ignore so many of the little components that make up what we consume: the packaging on our lunch, the tea leaves in our tea bags, the chair we sit on at work. All of these things are material objects that we unconsciously ignore. Yet all of these have an impact, on our lives and the planet.

A fulfilled life is something many people strive for, and happiness is something, I believe, everyone wants to experience. Being truly happy and fulfilled can only happen when we satisfy all our needs. Yet I am convinced that many of us do not actually know what our needs are. For many years I thought I knew my needs. I urged my parents to give me more pocket money so I could buy more things: first it was sweets, then the latest sportswear, after getting a job and my first guitar I constantly bought gadgets to make me a ‘better’ player, then purchasing tech. The constant want for bigger, better, faster was dragging me through my life. The acquisition of one item leads to the desire for another. This framing of my needs developed at a very early age, and habitual satisfaction is a difficult addiction to break.

Developing self-awareness

I order to break our habits we have to be aware of them. This is a really difficult task if you do not know where to begin. Mindfulness is a great tool. It was a phase of anxiety during university that turned me on to mindfulness. I downloaded (the awesome) Headspace app and for 2 months used the free initial 10 days, ‘Take 10’, to guide me through meditation. Planting the seed of mindfulness, and nurturing it carefully, is a crucial element in becoming more aware of your self and improving your life (O’Brien, T. 2015). Over time mindfulness shifts your focus away from external factors and towards internal. It is this intrinsic internal forces that bring us our greatest joy (Lee, M. & Ahn, C. 2016).

Self-growth is a massive area of concern these days, with bookstore shelves filled with self-help books. As a society, we are becoming aware of the importance of inner growth. Mindfulness cultivates the perfect safe space for this inner growth to be cultivated. In one of the earliest surveys on voluntary simplicity, Duane Elgin (2010 [1981]) found that mindfulness and inner growth were highly common themes for those who had chosen a simpler way of life.

Becoming more mindful of what you value will build the foundations for designing a simpler way of life.Click To Tweet
Find your values

Once you are aware of your self. Spend some time to find what it is you value. Write them down. This could be playing sport every week, working towards high grades, calling a friend once a week, going out, reading the news, playing music, drawing, watching films. Alternatively, your values may be focused slightly differently: stop wasting money, eat healthier, read more, exercise more, develop myself, build great relationships…

What ever they are, once you define them you can work towards them.

Manage your space

The spaces we live in affect us massively, and our minds and our home have a very close link. The messier our mind, generally the messier our homes. Alternatively, the messier our home is, the harder it is to be calm and focussed when at home. This intimate connection is down to the fact that the material objects affect us. If you’ve read other minimalism blogs (create a blog list), you will have come across this idea: the objects we own take up our time. We have to clean them, tidy them, think about them, use them, fix them and think about them. That is a lot of ‘doing’ for one item. Take a moment to think about all the items you have. How much time could you save?

Keeping your space clear and clean is fundamental to creating a space where you can relax and enjoy yourself. Marie Kondo, the Japanese guru of tidying, has written extensively on the subject of tidying and space management, highlighting the benefits for us. The KonMari method is not for everyone, but her ideas carry a lot of value.

Turn down from 11

Most of us run on 11 – especially if you live in a city. Our phones are ringing, emails coming through, Twitter, Facebook, advertising, coffee, lunch, shopping, drinks, dinner, TV, gym. We cram in as much as we can. Generally from a misconception of necessity. We need to do all these things, otherwise we won’t be happy! Turning down from 11 involves a few steps, some of these take effort and time, but, in the long run, they save us heaps of it.

Unsubscribe from mailing lists!

If you’re like me, you’re probably signed up to loads of mailing lists: my phone company, university, student union, all the stuff I signed up to in freshers week, discount websites, charitable causes, social media notifications… take some time to figure out which ones you want to keep and unsubscribe from the rest! The easiest way I found of doing this was to do it as I got emails coming through. There are other ways, and take some time to plan how you are going to get through this. Once you’re done, create a system to ensure you get your inbox clear every day, this way it’ll never accumulate again.

Turn off notifications

This is a crucial one. Do you really need your Twitter notifications on? Or Facebook notifications? Instagram? LinkedIn? Snapchat, Pinterest, your News apps, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Uni apps, email, Evernote, WhatsApp? Or would it just be simpler to check when you want to check? (Maybe keep your phone & texts on for emergencies, but otherwise… what do you really need?)

Don’t overcommit

I’m a people pleaser. Well, I was a people pleaser. Saying yes to everything and cramming my schedule full of things to do. Unsurprisingly, you can see how that took up a lot of my time. Shàà Wasmund (2015) discusses at length that saying ‘No’ to those things you don’t really want to do will create heaps of time. Here you can come back to the idea of value. When confronted with whether to do something or not, ask yourself, “Will this add value to my life?”. Then listen to your answer.

Stop multi-tasking

It’s not more efficient. You do not get more things done in the day. Having the TV on doesn’t help you concentrate.

Multi-tasking does distract you. It is proven to decrease your ability to focus. You produce lower quality work.

De-clutter

This is where Marie Kondo’s ideas really come in handy. The essence of de-cluttering – in effect the essence of minimalism – is to remove excess. Which method you chose is entirely up to you. The Minimalists came up with the Packing Party: placing everything into boxes – that means everything – and over the next 21-days only unpacking that which you need to use. Then everything else goes, Donate, Sell, Throw.The

The KonMari Method is gentler, with it asking you to look at every item and ask if you value it. Moving through your stuff by category, rather than location: first clothes, then tech, then uni stuff, miscellaneous… If you’re at uni, you’ve probably only got one room, but the idea still holds: organise by category. Then decide what to do with the stuff that no longer has value.

Buy Less

De-cluttering is not a reason to buy more to fill in the space you’ve created. By deciding what it is we value and cutting the excess, we should find that we already have everything that we need. There is no need to them fill the space we’ve cleared with more stuff. With mindful practices, you should start becoming aware of when you feel the urges to buy something, take a step back and ask that same question, “will this add value to my life?” Then listen to the answer.

 

Minimalism is about looking inwards

To start to live a simpler, minimalist lifestyle we must first start by looking in. Only once we have discovered who we are and what we value can we begin to act on the external factors around us. For the younger ones of us, this is particularly hard as we are still cultivating an image of ourselves. This, however, is not a hindrance, as you do not have to struggle to change habits that have had many years to settle in. The younger we can start critically observing ourselves, the deeper we can go with it. The best part is that learning more about your self will push you to work towards your own goals, not those of others; creating a life full of wealth.

 

Toward a way of life that is outwardly simple, inwardly rich – Duane Elgin

 


Elgin, D. (2010 [1981]) Voluntary Simplicity. New York: HarperCollins Publishers

Lee, M. & Ahn, C. (2016) ‘Anti-Consumption, Materialism, and Consumer Well-Being’. The Journal of Consumer Affairs. Spring. pp. 18-47

O’Brien, T. (2015) Inner Story: Understand Your Mind. Change Your World. Ideational

Wasmund, S. (2015) Do Less Get More. London: Penguin RandomHouse UK

Fighting those temptations | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/fighting-temptations-student-loan/

Fighting temptations – Student Loan

Fight off those spending temptations

It’s that time of year. Student Loans are coming in and suddenly there’s a lot of money in your account. Mine came through this week. It’s a little buzz when it appears. Money is one of those things which is both so abstract and weird yet so intimate and real. So with the new term starting and many of us trying to quiet those urges to buy stuff, how do we keep our spending to a minimum?

Be aware of what you spend

My first bit of advice would be to start a savings account. If you don’t already have one, they’re great. You can do it online through most banks and it takes seconds. You can put all the loan in here and pull money out to your current account as and when you need. There’s two benefits of this: firstly, it’s not on your card so you can’t just spend it. Secondly, when you are going to spend it you have to transfer it to your current account. This makes the process more conscious and can alert you when spending unnecessarily.

Make a budget! I’m sure you’ve been told this many times. That’s because if you make one and stick to it, they really work. I use the budgeting app Pennies (sadly only available on iPhone). But there are many out there. Get a free one that works for you. Put your budget in there, and log every bit of spending you do.

A good friend of mine recommended this to me years ago. Whenever you feel like you want something, write down the item in a journal (I note it on my phone) and then a week later ask yourself if you still want to buy it. If the answer is yes, think about it, see if you can afford it and find the cheapest option. If the answer is no – or if you forget to look – you don’t actually want it. Don’t buy it.

Or, if you want a simple method, just ask this question every time your about to purchase something.

Does this add value to my life?

The answer will tell you what to do.

Why you should quit Facebook | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/reasons-delete-facebook/

7 reasons to delete Facebook

Why you should delete Facebook.

After having deactivated my Facebook account for 7 months and then permanently deleting my Facebook account 2 months ago, here’s what I have found:

1. I have so much more free time

Without the urge to scroll through the endless ‘news’ feed of Facebook I have discovered free time in the day that I never used to have. Giving me more time to focus on things I want to do. Like starting this blog!! I’ve found it easier to do my daily exercises. And I read the news more.

2. I sleep better

Since I don’t ‘need’ my phone by me all the time now, I am able to digitally switch off in the evenings much easier than before. I can turn off all my electronics 2 hours before I go to bed, and this allows my body to wind down naturally. I have consistently slept well for way over a month and a half now!

3. I connect with people more

Not knowing what other people are doing means I text and call people more than I used to. My close friends are still my close friends, but now I actually speak to them, personally. I spend some of the time I would have spent on Facebook, grabbing a coffee with them and actually talking. I feel like my relationships have deepened and grown to a new level.

4. I’ve stopped comparing myself

One of the biggest issues with (social) media is that we compare. We know we compare ourselves to the models on catwalks, to the ‘successful’ businessmen in corporations and to celebrities. But what many of us don’t realise is that we also compare ourselves to our friends. Our brains processes this in exactly the same way. The less time you spend online, the less time you spend comparing and contrasting your flaws with their (carefully curated) perfections. The better you feel about yourself and the more you define your own world.

5. I want less things

Facebook use all the data they collect from your connected platforms to sell prime advertising spaces. The adverts you see on your Facebook page are catered for you. They know what music you like through Spotify, what sort of partners you’re interested in through Tinder, what your hobbies are through MeetUp. They track everything they possibly can. So, even though you may not click or buy the things they are advertising on the right of your page, your brain is still engaging with them. And urges will develop. Since I’ve reduced my usage of social media, my exposure to adverts has reduced significantly. And I’ve become less prone to wanting to buy new things!

6. I experience more

Without having the urge to share or upload things all the time, I’ve started living in the moment more. At concerts I’m taken away by the music. In cafés I notice how all my senses that react to the sound of the grinder, the smell of espresso, the sights of the cakes and the smiles of the baristas. My increased awareness of all that is happening around me has brought me a new sense of joy in life that I only remember experiencing as a kid. It’s great!

7. I’m more positive

Of course it’s hilarious to see that rant by someone who sent their food back because it was cold, and then complained about bad service. And even more hilarious to see the response from the manager pointing out the fact that had they not spent 15 minutes photographing their food their food would in fact be hot still. But what’s the point? Why deal with all that negativity when you could be getting on with your life? With the things that matter to you? Take away others’ negativity and be left with your positivity. It’ll do wonders!

You don’t need Facebook.

Overall, life without Facebook is great! I still use Twitter for this blog, and I have a personal Instagram account. Neither of them I use that often however and the constant feeling of needing to keep up-to-date is quite frankly tiring, so I might get rid of them soon. The truth is, life without social media is great!

Why not try it for 2 weeks and see how your life changes?

Whilst writing this post I actually realised that the Instagram account I had for it was a waste of time, so I’ve even deleted that.

Scandinavian secrets to happiness | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/scandinavian-secrets-happiness/

Scandinavian secrets to happiness

Create time in your day to appreciate the world around you and you’ll embark on the road to happiness.

 
Scandinavia is officially the happiest place in the world. All countries came in the top 10 of the World Happiness Index (see here). Denmark came top, with Iceland (sometimes counted as Scandinavian) as #2, Norway was 4th, Finland #5 and Sweden came 10th, despite their stark, freezing cold winters with little or no sunshine. Part of the reason for this is their attitude to life.
 
I recently came back from a trip to Sweden over New Years. Travelling to a new country is always interesting: you can watch their culture, embarrass yourself trying to speak their language, taste their delicacies. And I always begin to think about things from a different perspective. I had no real plan whilst there. But it was a time where I could do a lot of walking, thinking and observing. The one most evident thing I noticed was the Swede’s intimate understanding of nature. I use the word nature here to mean not only the outdoors, but also human nature. There is an obvious deep connection with each other and the way in which one should live. They live with and through the seasons, outdoors in the warm summer, and then taking advantage of the warm indoors in the winter.
 
There is also a sense about work-life balance. New Years eve, where many people in the UK & US spend out in a bar or having dinner, in Sweden is different. It is mostly spent at home with friends and family. Many of the bars and restaurants are closed, or only open till around 8pm, and everywhere I saw was shut on New Years day itself. Talking to a barman about NYE in Sweden, he said everyone spends it with their nearest and dearest. Rather than the priority being to get drunk (as I’ve always done), the Swede’s priority is to have quality time.
 
Quality time is something many of us neglect and I want to list a few concepts from Scandinavia that I’m trying to introduce into my life in order to become happier, improve my relationships and build my interaction with nature (human & not).
 
Fika is Sweden is about finding quality time in the day.

Fika [fee-kah] – Sweden

 
It doesn’t have a literal translation, but it roughly means ‘to get together and have a drink & a chat (and maybe a snack)’Fika is a staple part of Swedish life, and in just visiting cafês in Gothenburg it was evident how important the activity is to everyone here.
  
You see many people getting together throughout the day to have coffee, maybe a cinnamon bun, chat for a while and then make their way. It was clear they weren’t taking a break from shopping or grabbing a coffee to refuel. Fika is about slowing down, being in the moment, and having a pleasant time. Anna Brones & Johanna Kindvall write in their book Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break:
  
“Functioning as both a verb and a noun, the concept of fika is simple. It is a moment to take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it. You can do it alone, you can do it with friends. You can do it at home, in a park or at work. But the essential thing is that you do it, that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.”
  

Hygge [hoo-gah] – Denmark

  
Another simple concept you can incorporate into your life is that of hygge. It’s the emotion that arrises from taking a genuine pleasure in the ordinary. I love this concept as it bring intention and awareness into your life, two things that boost happiness. Hygge essentially translates to ‘cozy’, it is “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people” says VisitDenmark.com. That could be the warm glow of candle light, by yourself. Or spending time with family and friends. Most importantly, it is a time of feeling safe, comfortable and slowing down time to appreciate the simplicity of living. The Swede’s have a similar concept, Mysa [mee-sa]. My hygge is either having a latte in a nice café and taking a moment to just observe my surroundings or reading my book in bed by candlelight before going to sleep.
  
Hygge is a philosophy, a way of life. What’s your hygge?
  

Friluftsliv [free-loofts-liv] – Finland

  
My final word is friluftsliv, more in touch with the outdoors, than the inner-soul. Friluftsliv describes the “way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature”. It’s literal translation is ‘free air life’. The outdoors has a huge significance for the Finnish, so much so that their laws are pro rambling and exploring. You are allowed to, for example, camp on someone’s property provided you are 150m away from any buildings and polite. Likewise, you are able to explore any un-developed land so long as you obey the rules associated with the act.
  
Friluftsliv is the appreciation of nature. Lord Shackleton in the introduction to Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, comments on humankind’s disregard for nature, yet points out that without nature humankind wouldn’t exist. The Finnish understand this and create space for nature to be in their lives. (I mean they do also have an extraordinarily beautiful landscape to wonder about on!!) Gardening is something I want to take on this year to develop my connection with nature. Planting some vegetables and caring for them, then finally consuming them. It looks to be a fruitful time.
  
  
I hope these ideas have inspired you to think differently about your day-to-day life! There are many other concepts out there, if you have any that have added value to your life, please share…
New Year, New Routine | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/new-year-new-morning-routine/

New Year, New Morning Routine.

Your Morning Routine can bring you a healthier lifestyle! Develop the way you breath & shower.

 
As we start a new year some of us will be trying to redesign our lifestyles, doing more sport, waking up earlier, eating healthier, being more productive, focusing more on our relationships. New Year resolutions are popular every year, the problem is keeping that resolution as the year goes on. In changing my lifestyle to one of simplicity and meaning, I have decided to begin my changes with my morning routine. I’ve never really had a morning routine, and there are conflicting notions around whether routine is good for you or not. Does it put you into auto-drive? Does it help your body do its thing? I haven’t really figured that one out yet, but I’ve decided that some routine is good. With some subtle changes to my morning routine I’ve become more ready for the day and almost always start the day with a smile. I will present these changes in separate blog posts, as I feel they warrant explanations and reasons to allow you to make a good judgement as to whether you will decide to incorporate this into your life also. The order of the activities is up to you, but I would recommend the order of the posts.
 
BE WARNED: it does involve ensuring you have time in the morning, which may mean you have to wake up earlier (which in turn means you may want to go to bed earlier as sleep is such a (underrated) necessity in our lives). Now that you’re mentally ready, let’s get to it.
 

The Wim Hof breathing technique

 
I’ve been hearing about this for a while, and it is something that I was suspicious of at first. But after talking about it with a friend who challenged himself to doing it, I decided to give it a go also. Hof claims it has many benefits, like being able to control your immune system, improved sleep quality and reduced stress. (Sounds pretty good just after a bit of breathing right?) There have been heaps of research done on this, mainly on Wim himself [Watch Hof – VIDEO]. The technique has a couple of components: Breathing, Cold Exposure and Commitment.
 
So let’s begin with the breathing. There’s essentially a few simple instructions to follow – if you want more in depth get hold of his book, Becoming The Iceman:
 
  1. Find a comfortable seating position where you can keep your back straight. This can be cross-legged on the floor, preferably with pillow support under your coccyx, or in a firm chair.
  2. Take a deep breath in (to full capacity) using your diaphragm and allow to naturally discharge without any conscious effort at all. Close your eyes whilst letting your breath go.
  3. Do this 30-40 times and on the last breath, let your breath go for as long as possible, until your body forces you to take a breath…
  4. Again, fully fit your lungs and hold for ten seconds, then let go.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 three – six times.
  6. After holding the last breath for ten seconds. Take a couple of deep breathes and become fully aware of how you and your body feels. Bring awareness back to your surroundings and, when ready, open your eyes.
 
Give it a go now!
 
Well done. Now onto the next step.
 
Take a cold shower!
 
I know, this is a bit of a weird one. But according to Hof, controlled exposure to cold has many benefits toy our health: ‘including the buildup of brown adipose tissue and subsequent fat loss, reduced inflammation to facilitate a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins’ [taken from Hof’s website].
 
To start with, try staying under for 30-40 seconds. Then as you get used to it build this up to longer periods. It is surprisingly easy to build up this tolerance, and really enjoyable. The second cold shower I had, I was under there for about 3 minutes, lathered myself and my hair and rinsed. Once the initial shock is over, your fine – its mainly the getting under that’s difficult.
 
That’s essentially it. Build this into your life, make it a daily event, and, crucially, do it with intention. Developing the skill to engage in your actions with intention will allow you to focus more and be more productive. Also, intentional living, something advocated heavily by The Minimalists, will help you cut out the useless activities from your life, freeing up more time to do what you want to do. I’ll be writing about this in more detail in a later post. For now, try this in the morning and see if you feel the difference.
 
Once you’ve had a go for a week or so, share your new morning routine experience below!
 
What's holding you back? | Young Minimalist http://www.youngminimalist.uk/holding-you-back/

What’s holding you back?

Find your anchors and free your self

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to find things that would satisfy me. These things are not only objects, but activities, connections and values. They were supposed to make me feel like I belonged, had a purpose. The one thing I hadn’t questioned is: “What’s the effect of these things?”

An anchor is something that holds a ship at bay, anchors keeps an object in place: they are dependable. For years I, along with many others, thought of this as a good thing. Dependability is a good thing, right? Right? For sure, we do need trustworthiness in our lives, but this highlights our overt concern for safety.

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for” – William G.T. SheddClick To Tweet

In society, we are drawn to idolise others. We get asked, “Who’s your hero?” or “Who do you admire?” These questions are supposed to get us to reveal a bit of our inner self, yet all it compels us to do is look outward, to the plethora of other people. We are not comfortable revealing our true selves to others, as this would open us to potential humiliation. If we told our real inner story, we could be judged, and the potential for hurt rises drastically. Our obsession with celebrity and idols is, in my opinion, down to one thing: the fear of discovering who we are. In fact, it may even be: the fear of not liking who we are. And thus we turn to external stuff to create our image.

“Insist on yourself; never imitate” – Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo EmersonClick To Tweet

In turning to meditation as a form of self-treatment from depression and anxiety I made the discovery that so many have made before me. I found an island inside me that had always been off the map. That island was me. This discovery has lead me up the path towards a more enlightened version of me. One that understands who it I am and what it means to be me. In asking my self questions, I got answers about that self. What are my values? Do I really enjoy doing this? Is this object adding value to my life? Is this person making my life better? Are all questions I asked, and continue to ask my self. They constantly reveal interesting answers.

I learnt that I had done what so many others had done. I had followed. Chasing the idea, the template, which is given to us – and reinforced by our education system – and portrayed as the route to happiness. Work hard, get money, buy the biggest house you can, get a nice car, have a family at some point, retire happy.

I am not saying following is a bad thing, it is not. I, in writing this essay, am following the whole of history in trying to solidify my thoughts with the pen. Following others in their knowledge of meditation and self-discovery, but I am doing it with awareness. Many of us do not. This may seem a bizarre thing to claim – “Of course I know what I am doing!” you might say. I do not mean this statement as an attack, but as an invitation. I urge you to ask yourself one simple question of the action you perform immediately after you finish reading this: it may be checking your phone, it may be looking at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or BuzzFeed, it may be getting back to that task at the office, it may be driving to the shop. Whatever it may be, ask yourself:

“Why am I doing this?”

But be wary of your answer. The first answer may be a superficial one: “I’m checking Facebook to see what’s new.” Or, “I’m doing this task as it is part of my job, I need my job to earn money to pay the bills.” Both valid answers at the face of it, yet both put a veil in front of the real answer. Once some digging is done, the real answers may be more like, “I don’t want to miss out on the latest trend” or “That new thing is coming out soon, and I have to work so I can buy it.”

It is only then that we can find our anchors. And they are certainly holding you place. Those bills, that debt: that’s an anchor. Your fear of missing out (FOMO as it has been dubbed): that’s an anchor. In searching for my anchors I found that I kept coming back to the same place for most of the decisions I was making in my life. (I mean down to the smallest of decisions). My main anchor was the fear of disappointing my parents. I have always had this fear, and still struggle in dealing with it. However, if I am to live my life, it must be myself that I am afraid of disappointing, not others. And now in recognising my fear I am able to combat it.

In fact last night may have been the most significant advancement I have made on this front. And in thinking about it now, my fear was misplaced: it wasn’t that they were going to be disappointed by me choosing a path different from others. It was that they didn’t understand. I hadn’t explained to them the reasons for my decisions.

Find your anchors. Understand you anchors. Un-tie your anchors and you will find freedom.Click To Tweet

ASK: “Why am I doing this?”