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August 8, 2016

MIND: Redefining "Enough" and Ending the Cycle of Want

minimalist shop display

The minimalist lifestyle and philosophy are built around a central idea--to focus on living your best life by eliminating the excess that holds you back. The catch? To determine what is excess, you must first define enough.  

We're Trained to Want More

Defining enough is not an easy task for most people in our modern, consumer-driven society. With a constant bombardment of advertisements, friends talking about and showing off their latest purchases on social media, and the general day-to-day pressure of keeping up appearances, we're pushed from all sides to believe that wanting more (more, more, more) is the right thing to do.

In the United States, our own government tells us that if we want to improve our economy, we need to get out and shop. They even issue "Economic Stimulus Payments" to encourage us to buy more goods to help stave off recession.

How Much is Enough?

Enough is going to be different for everyone. A family of four with two busy kids and two parents who work outside of the home may not feel that one car is enough. A single person who regularly hosts friends from abroad may not feel that a 400-square foot apartment is enough. Your specific needs help to mold your measure of enough.

Here's where there is a disconnect: sometimes our idea of what is enough is molded by those outside influences (media, friends, government, etc.) and it becomes warped and artificially inflated.

The only way to find your unique level of enough is to reduce until the reduction becomes a burden to your efficiency, peace of mind, or personal welfare. When you hit that point, take a step backward. That's where your enough is.

Bold Steps Toward Reduction

If you want to jump in with both feet and try and cut your possessions to the bone, you can pack away everything you own in moving boxes. Only retrieve something from the boxes when you actually need to use it. After three to six months, donate or sell the items that remained packed.

Another quick-but-effective minimizing hack is to severely downsize your living space. Challenge yourself to live in the tiniest, least expensive place you can find. Donate or sell the things that you haven't used in the past two months and the large pieces (like furniture or luggage) that don't fit your new space.

Taking Baby Steps

Maybe you'd rather take things slowly and chip away at your possessions instead of hoisting them all overboard in one unceremonious swoop. That's okay, too!

If you regularly drive to work, how about riding a bike or taking public transportation? Commuting by bike could not only eliminate your dependence on a car, but it could also provide enough exercise that you could sell that treadmill in the basement that you never use.

One common area of excess is the kitchen. If you use your kitchen every day, but your efficiency is killed because your cabinets are bursting with huge baking dishes and specialty molds and pans that you only use once a year for Thanksgiving, this might be the first task you want to tackle.Why not keep two or three, donate or sell the rest, and then host a potluck dinner party instead of a huge, single-cook affair?

Get creative. Purge the bulk of your wardrobe, sell half of your furniture, pretend that you're moving across country and have to pay the movers based on the weight of your possessions--whatever works to clarify what is enough for you.

Breaking the Cycle of Want

Most importantly, to feel content with enough, you must cut the leash that ties you to the consumer mentality.

Reducing the amount of advertising that creeps into your life can make a huge difference in your state of mind. Using plug-ins like the appropriately-named Adblock for your electronic devices, turning to direct or streaming media for your movies and music instead of broadcast television or radio, and taking a sabbatical from social media can all be incredibly helpful.

What steps do you plan to take to determine what is enough? What strategies do you already have in place and how are they working for you so far? Is it time to make a reassessment?  

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