After committing myself to moving across the country, I got rid of clothing and possessions that could not make the journey. Ever since then, I’ve still thrown out things that I didn’t want, and nearly stopped the accumulation of possessions altogether.
Everyone has their own version of living a minimalist lifestyle, and I’m not one to say who is right or wrong, or living better than somebody else. There are people that live out of bags, cars, or small rooms. Each one of them has different priorities.
Choosing to live a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean that I don’t want “stuff” or that I refuse to be a consumer, but that I just want the same amount that I have now. A better car stereo would replace the old. Newer clothes, while tossing out (or donating) the older ones would keep the balance.
Ultralight hiking, a trend that is recent in the sport, dictates a low weight of what you’re supposed to carry on the trail. In old hiking books, there are equations that use your own body weight to determine what the optimal amount of backpack weight you were supposed to have, which are now considered to be antiquated systems.
Some hikers following the ultralight philosophy can carry 15 lbs total for a week’s worth of hiking and camping. Redundant or unused items get left at home. Bulk gets cut out. Items are multi-use. Water gets filtered in the field as needed. With a lower weight on your back, you’re able to go farther and see much more.
The same concept, I believe, can be applied to home living. Multi-use kitchen tools (an Alton Brown concept). Not too many responsibilities to have to take care of: pets, kids, or even homes. Not wasting food, and buying some of it in bulk to save.
Other examples of life minimalism include: digital accounts (everything on the phone), little-to-no paper, and less overall material wants. Keeping less stuff and having it more organized means that I can find anything very quickly, and I am not stumbling over myself. Being frugal ties into this lifestyle extremely well, too.
Avoiding complications and distractions
Though it is an extreme example, Mark Zuckerberg chooses to wear the same T-shirt every day, the reason being that it is one less thing he has to think about.
I’m in this really lucky position where I get to wake up every day and help serve more than 1bn people, and I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life, so that way I can dedicate all of my energy towards just building the best products and services.
It is true that everyone is entitled to live however they would like, and that there’s no one perfect way to make you happy. After working in a thrift store and seeing what people have donated over the years, it re-commited me to having less, especially seeing how many products are remarkably similar when they are produced on a mass scale.
Other reading material
One of the short stories that affected me as a child was How Much Land Does a Man Need? by Leo Tolstoy. It is a classic, relevant to this topic, and definitely worth a read.
Lastly, here is Marie Konodo, an expert in decluttering, doing a 40-minute presentation at Google. Watch it if you have the time: