It is not daily increase, but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessentials – Bruce Lee.
In a world of consumerism, some might find it rather absurd to live with the bare minimum, or to put it in better words, to live with only the things you need.
We slog our asses off to earn money, to end up buying things we do not need just because we fancy the attention that thing would bring to us.
Take the example of wanting a fancy home. Obviously, you should do the best you can in a given situation, and make sure you have the best possible space for yourself, your family. But too often, we chase something which is way out of our capacity, get into an endless cycle of a loan or an EMI. We work day in and day out to pay it off, all the while, we do not really enjoy having that house. To top that up, the maintenance and the attachment that comes with something that you perceive as so precious.
I took up a 30-day minimalism challenge where starting Oct 1, 2017, I had to get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three, on the third. So forth, and so on, ending with 30 on day 30!
I was able to continue to Day-22 as I had to leave for a Vipassana shibir but I realized that I threw away almost everything that I did not need.
As a part of this challenge, I also encouraged myself to get rid of the thought patterns, behaviors and people that are not serving a good purpose or place in my life. But since these are subtler, negativity comes and goes, though less frequently.
From then on, every month, I keep discarding things that I do not need and I realized since then I do not have half the things I owned!
I also sold a lot of things on OLX and people were really happy to buy some of it. Why sell it? – In my limited experience, I feel when a thing is for free, we have the tendency to just take and hoard, assuming that we may use it sometime in the future. Whereas, when a thing has a price on it, no matter how small the price is, we at least think once before purchasing it if it is really useful to us.
I also deleted apps on my phone and the digital data that I do not need.
All this while, I assumed that minimalism is a western philosophy, until recently where I discovered that it is one of the Yamas – Aparigraha.
Minimalism is not really limited to discard things you do not need, but it extends to not buying things out of a whim and being thoughtful when purchasing.
Aparigraha, of how I understand it now is very much capable of encompassing the other Yamas. Satya – being truthful about what you need and purchasing according to that. Ahimsa – making sure you try to minimalize purchasing when violence is involved in the processing or manufacture of the item. Asteya – making sure that you give the right value to the person you purchase things from – example, it is absolutely unfair for us to go to malls and buy overpriced things that we do not bargain for, versus buying fruits/ vegetables we try to squeeze in how much ever possible in a small amount of money. Bhramacharya – making sure that the items we buy provide us more value than mere sense pleasure.
It extends to discard behaviors, habits, words, relationships that you do not need or are not benefitting you.
And sometimes, you will not realize how great Aparigraha is unless you start to implement it. Like all the other good things in life.
So are you going to take up the challenge?