Minimalism and a meaningful life

Lately, I’ve been questioning my existence and my place in the world.

No, I’m not having a mid-life crisis.

Actually, my philosophical musings are the result of my minimal living.

As I purge the unwanted and unnecessary from my life, I create room for greater meaning and purpose.

Eliminating the clutter means that I have more room for new experiences, activities, and opportunities.

And, I have room to create the life I want, rather than living at the mercy of my surroundings.

I want a life that’s intentional and deliberate. A meaningful and purposeful life.

I came across a quote yesterday, which said “ask yourself what is really important and then have the courage to build your life around that answer”.

I love this quote, because it made me think deeply about what’s really important to me.

The answers that initially spring to mind are: family, friendships, career, and hobbies. These are most important to me, at the moment.

But on further contemplation, I realise that’s not entirely true.

Their significance is far greater.

My family and friends are important, because connection and belonging are important to me.
My work is important, because helping others and contributing to something greater than myself is important to me.
My hobbies are important because feeling vital, ergetic, expansive, and creative are important to me.

I realise that what I’m really seeking are these emotional experiences.

And this realisation means that I can be more deliberate in the way I choose to live.

I can choose to engage in activities that bring connection and belonging, contribution, vitality, energy, growth, and creativity.

What are those activities? Well, sometimes it’s what they’re NOT.

As much as I enjoy my career, I know that I don’t want to work full time.
I don’t want to feel obligated to work, to pay off debt.
I don’t want to feel bored or “stuck in a rut”.

When we know what we don’t want, we can quickly figure out what we do want.

I want to work part time, flexible hours.
I want to set my own schedule.
I want to pay off my debt.
I want to spend quality time with my family.

It’s not just career and finances, of course. It’s health and fitness. Parenting. Friendships and relationships. Hobbies. And more.

Knowing WHAT is important to us means knowing WHY it’s important to us.

Because when we know what we’re really seeking from life, we can find an endless number of ways to create more of it.

I can experience connection and belonging by choosing to spend time with family and friends. Or, by participating more in my local community. Or, by getting involved in projects and activities with like-minded people.

Thinking deliberately about what we DO want, causes us to focus. This focus is what helps us recognise opportunities that will bring more of those emotional experiences to us.

In fact, writing down what we want creates even deeper focus. That’s why writing down our goals will increase the likelihood that we’ll achieve them.

It’s not always easy, though.

It takes courage to objectively assess our life.

It takes courage to write down what we want, because then we risk disappointment.

And of course, it takes courage to take action.

We must not confuse the intention of changing our live with the act of change.

Thought, knowledge, and intention precede action, but are not a substitute for it. All change starts with a single step – and that’s having the courage to focus our attention on what we really want from life.

The great news is, creating our ideal life doesn’t have to be fraught with disappointment. Our desires are always changing – it’s the nature of our changing selves.

While we may move closer to our “perfect” life, we will never arrive. And that’s a good thing, because it gives us direction. It gives us the opportunity to appreciate what we do have, and what we’ve already achieved – and at the same time, look forward to what’s to come. More growth, more experiences, more contribution, and more self-discovery.

 

Want to read more about minimalism? Check out:

My experiment with minimalism

De-cluttering to reduce stress: How to start?

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