The idea that I’m here for a purpose is a driving force in my life. I seek reasons why it matters that I’m here every day, all day. I have long understood that I derive a deep sense of satisfaction from producing more than I consume.
Maybe it’s how I was raised. My parents met in the developing world doing humanitarian work. They’ve devoted their lives to helping others help themselves. If any part of them rubbed off on me, maybe it was the core idea that we are here to give our fellow humans what we can of grace, humility and kindness.
In the course of exploring how to produce more than I devour, I found Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus. They call themselves the minimalists. Here’s what they say about the word minimalist.
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.
Sounds good right? I see nothing wrong with having nice things. It starts to feel gross though, when I have more nice things than I can use while many people on the planet don’t have the basics they need to survive.
It feels worth thinking about what I can do with less. I’m improving my sense of satisfaction with my life by making careful choices about the ‘stuff’ I own and use.
I can’t live with this:
Meeting the Poor’s Basic Needs
- As many as 2.8 billion people on the planet struggle to survive on less than $2 a day, and more than one billion people lack reasonable access to safe drinking water.
- The U.N. reports that 825 million people are still undernourished; the average person in the industrial world took in 10 percent more calories daily in 1961 than the average person in the developing world consumes today.
The U.S. Consumer
- The United States, with less than 5 % of the global population, uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources—burning up nearly 25 % of the coal, 26 % of the oil, and 27 % of the world’s natural gas.
- As of 2003, the U.S. had more private cars than licensed drivers, and gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles were among the best-selling vehicles.
- New houses in the U.S. were 38 % bigger in 2002 than in 1975, despite having fewer people per household on average.
I have a car and a motorcycle, and I use them both. I live in a pretty small cabin in the woods. It’s all the space I need to write and exist. I don’t want a big, mostly empty suburban McMansion. I would not be happy there. Stories are born in small, intimate spaces and they are found when we’re outside, exploring the world.
The first thing I ask myself before I purchase anything at this point in my life is will it improve me? If it isn’t functional, and it won’t bring me a richer existence, I put it back and save my money for something else.
Minimalism is not a set formula. It’s different for every single person who practices it. But the end result will always be the same: lasting fulfillment and a sense of purpose.
Leo Babauta is another source of inspiration in my quest to live with less. The most inspiring thing about Leo is his that he is a ‘normal guy’ living an extraordinary life. Check out the list of things he did to turn his life into one that brought him a deep sense of satisfaction.
You don’t need a specialized degree to be amazing. You don’t need anyone’s permission (except your own of course). You can live a fantastic life on a small budget, debt free and feeling healthy. Best of all, the rules are yours to make and break as you walk down the path and take in the view through new eyes.
I don’t know where my journey is taking me. I only know that I need to tell stories. I’m Pen, and I’m looking for ways to improve the world and myself.
Habits can be changed. Beliefs will shift and allow you to see more of what’s around you. If you let it happen. We are meant to grow as we go.
Take only what you need from this place.