Minimalism is *in trend* right now, and I’ve always said it’s the cool way to be broke. Fewer material belongings? Fewer costly trips and events? Awesome, I was doing that anyway!
I fear that minimalism has become a buzzword and the importance is sometimes forgotten. Personally, I’ve noticed how minimalism and essentialism have been changing the way I live my day-to-day life. Focusing on the bare minimum not only keeps me stress-free, stripped of excess consumption and spending, but also more efficient. At the end of the day, I have more time to think, and I have more time to be me.
I have workaholic tendencies, and I am always on the go-go-go. I’ve been trying to slow down and do less, but for many people, especially type A personalities, it’s difficult to merely exist. Even if you’re sitting on the train, you have to find a way to stay busy. Maybe it’s scrolling through social media, managing your calendar, reading, or even writing a blog post, we naturally fill blocks of time in our lives. However, this happens more than on your commute or while you’re on the toilet. People fill their lives, seeking satisfaction and fulfillment.
“It’s the little things that matter in life.” Um, I beg to differ. Sometimes, when we try to slow down and focus on the trivial little things, like the bougie berry shade of lipstick we wear or the decadent double chocolate cupcake we eat, we shift our priorities from our values. Don’t get me wrong — rock that lipstick and enjoy that cupcake, but how much time is spent picking out that shade? How much time do you think about that cupcake beforehand, and how much do you think about it after? Time is precious — how much of it is it worth?
I first became aware of this as I was recovering from my eating disorder. I was trying to distract myself from my negative thoughts. If I could stay busy with other activities, I wouldn’t spend my days planning out my meals. If I wasn’t planning, I was thinking about food, either wanting that damn cupcake or regretting that I had. My thoughts were consumed by overall trivial thoughts, and I felt like I wasn’t being productive with what else my mind can accomplish.
Now that my relationship with food and eating is much healthier, I am able to take a step back and think about how much time I actually think about food. I have my meal prep down to a T so that most of my meals are predetermined. I’ll look up a couple new recipes each month, but I spend 3 hours on the weekends shopping and cooking so that 80% of my meals for the week are ready to go. I assemble the night before, and I eat my meals at work. I indulge on spontaneous meals 2-3x a week, but I don’t spend the entire week preparing for that “cheat meal.” Food is fuel to power me through my days, but I’m still able to enjoy my weekly Taco Tuesday solo date and brunch on the weekends with my best friends. With less time to focus on the little things, I can focus on the big things like learning and growing at work, building meaningful connections with friends and family, and my own personal hobbies like reading and writing. When I’m not worrying about the little things, I’m living a very full life.
People are often surprised when I say I get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I would prefer 8-9, but I’m workin’ on it! I don’t check social media near as much as people think I do, and I spend my days doing what I want. I have my routine for meals, clothes, and workouts so that I don’t have to spend much time prepping — I can execute with a present, focused mind and move on to my next activity of choice.
Yeah yeah, appearances are important, but are they really? In high school, I dressed up, styled my hair, and applied makeup every single day. Now, I wear some variation of the same outfit with my hair air dried and no makeup. I look back at my younger self and realize how desperate I was for external validation. Now, I am confident with who I am. I dress appropriately and don’t want to look like I rolled out of bed, but I don’t feel the need to prove myself to anyone.
I know some people do enjoy primping themselves, which I understand. Whenever I need a confidence boost, I’ll rock my satin robe and apply my makeup with extra care, but I do that on a Saturday maybe once a month. I enjoy other things more than to do that every single day. I don’t want to look back and remember how much fun I had getting ready. I want to remember how much fun I had doing.
I definitely don’t want to seem all *new age* with hipster minimalism because I am still extra af and go all out when I want to. However, I’m realizing I don’t find joy in the little things. I find joy in the big ideas and feelings.
For me, happiness is learning a new mental model that gives new perspective on an idea I’ve been pondering for weeks. Happiness is reading a book that helps me learn something new. Happiness is lifting a heavier weight than I ever before, or running a longer distance than I have in months. Happiness is laughing until I cry with my friends. Happiness is seeing a new landscape with eyes full of wonder and appreciation. Happiness is calling my parents and hearing stories I haven’t heard before (or maybe have but secretly love when they repeat). Happiness is writing a story that resonates with someone. Happiness is being myself wholeheartedly.
Maybe those are the little things we don’t give enough credit. You can create your maximum happiness when you eliminate the excess and focus on your values and priorities. How can you do less to be more of you?
++ Mary K