Archives for March 2018

March 28, 2018

Removing My Social Media

How do you know if someone has left a social network? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

I used to use social media, a lot. I’d check it as soon as I woke up and right before I went to sleep. I wouldn’t go anywhere without checking in and I’d constantly post updates and pictures throughout the day. If I was ‘offline’ for more than an hour, I would be worried I’d miss something. I was the guy who’d relentlessly share holiday snaps every day of being away (completely highlighting the fact my house was empty) and I’d also kindly share images of every meal I ate.

Unlike others, I didn’t land upon minimalism as a result of a personal tragedy or a sudden realization I had too much stuff. My journey into minimalism started with me initially addressing my Digital presence. I’ve always had a slight OCD tendency to try and keep aesthetically pleasing social media profiles. I’d go through previous posts deleting those that didn’t fit in with the ‘style’ of my images. I’d re-post certain ones that I feel didn’t get as many ‘likes’ as I thought it should, or I’d hide and delete status updates that were not in line with the way I felt I’d like my personality to appear. I’ve done that for as long as I can remember which really makes me question why I posted those things in the first place. Why didn’t that picture of my glass of Pinot complete with witty caption clear 20 likes? Why did I post that status about football that nobody really cared about and why did I get into an argument with a 12 year old on Twitter over the dab?

What kick-started my digital clear-out was the news my wife and I would be soon welcoming a baby into our lives. New parent paranoia kicked in almost instantly when it came to my media usage and history of life-logging.

How do I protect my social media content? Who will be able to see pictures of my child? How did I obtain over 500 friends without meeting at least 50% of them?!

I decided that the self-indulgent side of my personality needed a reality check and that it was time to readdress. No longer would I post pictures displaying every angle and possession in my home, nor would I ‘check in’ at every location I visited, mapping out my movements for all to see, and I certainly wasn’t going to be one of those parents that uploaded photos of their babies covered in food all over the web. I’d decided on that mantra, and going forward wouldn’t be a problem. What I did have to contend with however, was 10 years’ worth of excessive posting.

My 4,000 post Instagram account went first. I felt a total sense of liberation. Facebook soon followed, which prompted responses of “you’ll never get rid, you’ll be back in a week” and “how are we going to see pictures of your baby if you delete your social media?” which only further justified to myself why I was doing it. Mandy from a totally different office at work who I'd never met in person doesn’t need to see pictures of my child. It was a long process of false dawns, finding myself logging on and off again, getting no value whatsoever from the endless scrolling, but finding I was doing it out of habit. I eventually stuck with it and, despite the urges to let everyone know I’ve not disappeared, I’ve remained logged off and feel so much lighter for it.

The declutter mind-set has now seeped into other areas of my life that, without me realizing, I was unhappy with. I’ve started eating better and drinking less. I spend less money on material goods and I find real value from the things I do purchase, because now I do it with intent. I make time for my wife, son and friends more (one of them was sure I’d joined a cult) and I find it so much better having no distractions drawing my attention away. There are a lot of people I’ve lost contact with, but I’ve realized that the people who are most important to me are the ones that still find time to contact me and hang out. After all, I still have an iPhone and live in 2018—I'm not asking for pen friends.

I’m not completely damning social media; it does have its benefits. My mother lives at the other end of the country, and I’m sure she’s not as happy with my logged off stance as she doesn’t get to see me often. I just feel there’s so many split second moments in my son’s life going forward that I feel I would have missed if I hadn’t made this change—I’m glad I realized in time. I’ve learned to put my phone down and look up more.

March 21, 2018

Clearing the Path

A personal reflection into the journey of minimalism.

Since the middle of last year, I've been really interested in the journey of minimalism.

Before I started examining it, I always thought it was about people living in barren rooms. One set of cutlery per household. White walls. A table with a single chair. On that table is a single white vase and one flower poking out of it. It was the stuff of odd personalities and high-brow 'artists' beyond the reach of us ordinary folk.

I’ve discovered that is not what minimalism is about at all. It's a journey. It's a lifestyle. It's making room and making time for the important things. Room not just in the physical sense but room from a mental perspective. When we talk about removing 'junk', that doesn't just mean the old VHS videos and cracked CD's in the attic, or 6-sizes-too-small piles of t-shirts you're convinced you'll wear again one day.

It's about removing toxic relationships and toxic people from your life, removing distractions that serve to waste your time, and focusing on the things that make you a better person—allowing you the time and space to best serve those who are important to you. It's all about making things (and aligning people and relationships) as fit-for-purpose. It's about clearing the path for a more meaningful and intentional life.

So far, I've removed 50% of my old clothes, 90% of my CDs and DVDs, and I'm currently working on removing lots of music gear—including bass guitars and a piano—as well as reducing the clutter around the house. It's incredibly liberating. I've also minimized my digital clutter, removing the majority of my social networks, turned off all phone notifications, deleted apps, and cancelled subscriptions. This is helping clear the path for focus.

The next decisions to be made are how I shape my life going forward. How can I maintain and build relationships with people? How can I let some of those relationships go? What are my real passions? What adds value to my life?

I feel like I've always 'ended up' in situations rather than forged my own pathway. So this is the next stage of the minimalist route for me. The clutter is going... so what next? How can I best use my time?

I'm looking forward to the journey, and continuing to clear the path along the way.

March 14, 2018

Living with Non-Minimalist Skin

Can I be a minimalist and a tattoo collector at the same time?

I look around my room but there isn’t much to look at. In 2018, I live with less. For me, living with less means living more. My life has no clutter and so neither does my mind. I am paying attention. I am here, now. I look down at my body and in complete contrast, nothing about it is minimal. Almost every single square inch of it is covered with ink. I can see over a hundred different images collected from over thirty different artists. I started getting tattooed over ten years ago, and today the result is a living canvas of my memories, experiences, dreams, loves and fears.

Over the last few years I’ve re-evaluated many different areas of my life, such as my health, career, relationships, and spending habits. I have made positive changes and now live a life that it is more meaningful. I try to spend and live consciously. If something doesn’t bring value to my life, I don’t give it my time, attention or money. Of course I fall down, but I don’t beat myself up. I learn, stand up again and move forward.

As a result of these life changes, I was able to re-evaluate the money spent on tattoos in recent years and have ultimately cut back on decorating my body (that, and I’m running out space). Looking back at those decisions and down at my cluttered skin, I wondered; should I feel regret at these permanent collections that decorate my body? We can re-evaluate and donate our physical belongings, but collected tattoos will be with me ‘till death do I part. Did I see this collection as something positive or negative? Could I continue to collect ink consciously and mindfully?

As someone who has been reflective about every single tattoo decision I have made, I knew deep down that every new addition had been created with consideration and understanding. Whether it was to connect with a memory, image, artist, idea, dream or intention, each tattoo session meant something to me on a deeply emotional and spiritual level. Tattoos weren’t aesthetic additions to me—they meant so much more than their visual identities. They weren’t distanced concepts, or pretty things. What they were, and are, could not be described in words. They were born in my soul and therefore I realised, that is where they would always live.

Living minimally and meaningfully is being aware of how you are living your life and how you are making decisions. For me, getting tattooed brought me that same level of reflection. ‘Purchasing’ tattoos has made me the person I am today—the person who has embraced minimalist living and is now sitting here today peacefully. Having the opportunity to ink important things onto my body has allowed me to consider the meaning of life and ultimately how I live it.

In a contradicting fashion, as well as giving my tattoo collection an importance, I also wholeheartedly accept that it has no importance whatsoever. Our bodies are temporary shells and as long as we look after them on the inside, however we decide to decorate the exterior walls doesn’t really matter. By denying my tattoos a status, I can give them a focus but never be distracted or led by it. The life I live outside of my skin decorations is the one that matters. I am me, with or without the tattoos.

Can you be a minimalist and a tattoo collector? The answer is yes, you can be anything you want. If there were ever two strong communities in the world that have taught us that we are so much more than our labels, they are tattooing and minimalism. We also cannot live within the constraints of any category, and can only live in the truest possible sense of ourselves. Living a minimalist life will mean different things to different people.

Earlier I said that if something didn’t bring value to my life, I didn’t give it my time, attention or money. I touch my inked memories and can confidently say that they have a value higher than anything I’ve every purchased in a shop or owned in my house.

Tattoos and minimalism have both separately encouraged me to never stop asking questions. They have both reminded me that this is a journey, there is no final destination. We will never stop learning, and all we can do is enjoy and give passion to the short time we are here. But more than anything, they have reminded me to embrace one important idea: to be true to yourself.

I may not collect physical objects, but I am happy to continue collecting life.

March 7, 2018

A Social Minimalist

How owning less freed up my time, money, and confidence to do more.

As we left for a rare two-week break, I heard the dreaded snap of my holdall handle. I was faced with a choice: re-pack and pay for a larger suitcase or, reduce to the essentials to fit within a backpack. My minimalist mindset took over, and in five minutes we were in the taxi, leaving behind spare shorts, flip-flops, and of course, toothbrush.

So began my journey into minimalism, shifting what holds greatest value, from things I own, to things I do. Ten days of not over-thinking about what to wear, or looking down a camera lens, made more happy memories than any extra outfit could have done. By bringing this simple ideology back home with me, it was my social life that surprisingly transformed.

No longer did I compare myself with my peers, for there was less to analyze. It’s easy to contrast two objects; my car is faster than his, but my phone’s older than hers. Instead, it became much harder to compare my new experiential purchases. No doubt my camping trip cost less than my friend's spa break. Yet, both brought equal happiness. Each experience is unique to us, and nobody can compare that. This new fascination with people’s stories began to expand my previously introverted social skills. ‘What do you enjoy doing?’ and ‘What do you do?’ often lead to very different conversations.

In my pursuit of owning less, and do more, another delightful presence was on the rise—my smile. Happy thoughts grew from both the anticipation and participation of enjoyable experiences. These lasted much longer than if it were for the purchase of a possession. After all, we don’t reminisce with each other about things we bought, but about things we did. I found my smile was noticed more and became infectious amongst friends.

Owning fewer things has freed up my time, money, and confidence to do more. And now more than ever, I look forward to sharing my adventures with the important people in my life.

March 1, 2018

fourweeksgood: Tokyo

Four weeks of living and freelancing in one of the world’s most livable cities—Tokyo, JP.

After introducing you to the cities of Amsterdam, Stockholm, Vienna and Auckland, this month's 'fourweeksgood' feature moves to Japan. Its capital, Tokyo, is a megacity—modern and full of energy. Tokyo is often described as the city of hustle and bustle. It can be complex, hypercorrect, overwhelming and fast-paced, but there is more to it than flashing hieroglyph neon signs on skyscrapers. Within Tokyo you can also experience a well-run, clean, peaceful, relaxed, and remarkably aesthetic city. You’ll discover misty views, narrow alleys, exceptional charm in residential areas, and a massive amount of architectural gems and unexpected quiet streets. Welcome to a city rich in contrast, welcome to Tokyo—hectic around one corner, totally blissful around the next.

You can read Tokyo's travel guide in Volume N°2 of our digital publication for Minimalism Life.

'fourweeksgood' is a series of travel videos created by freelance creative Seraina Silja and Experience Designer Simon Ammann.