Learning to embrace the challenge of moving when standing still is far more comfortable.
How boring would life be without a sense of thrill? Even the movies we watch portray the idea that in order to do more with the life we have, we have to take chances.
Those chances aren’t easy. They certainly don’t come without a little fear. But they do help us move beyond what’s comfortable in order to arrive at a more exciting phase in our journey.
The beauty of it all rests in the need to experience this tension. Most of us stop at any amount of fear that risks involve, and then we go back to our old ways. Back to the comfort of what we’re used to.
Chances are, if you aren’t making choices that cause your heart to beat a little faster, you probably aren’t growing as a person. And you definitely aren’t stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Change Shakes Us
A few years ago, I discovered the idea of minimalism. I heard people use the term on certain videos. But I never really understood what they meant by it. The only thought I could think of was, That’s just another fad to be obsessed over by a society filled with copycats.
Instead of throwing it away, though, I decided to look into it. Maybe there was something more to this idea — something I was missing. Sure, some of them are a bit weird, but I wasn’t going to give up on it because of that.
What I discovered was this: at the core of minimalism lies the concept that life should consist of things and people that matter to you. Everything else is pulling from you the energy that has its rightful place elsewhere.
Pondering on the concept for a while, I thought, Yeah, I can roll with that. I needed to make a change anyway. My life at the time was a mixture of “do what everyone else is doing” and “don’t sweat the small stuff.”
The “small stuff” then was not worrying about wasting money on things that meant nothing to me. Almost days after buying them, the satisfaction faded away just as fast as the temptation to make the purchase.
When I discovered the movement that minimalism sparked, I didn’t think the concept was innovative. It wasn’t some new idea that emerged out of nowhere.
People have thought this way long before two guys with neutral-colored wardrobes and empty-looking apartments put in into practice.
Yet for some reason, it felt new to me. It was me who had never considered the idea of simplifying the way I lived my life, regardless of how long the concept had been around.
It shook me to a place of excitement and fear of the unknown. But I was more than willing to go along for the ride.
Curiosity Is A Must
I would journal often, even then. Most of what I would write consisted of to-do lists or little ideas that came to my brain. But after learning about this new thought of “cleaning house,” I was curious to see where it would lead.
One morning, as I grabbed my journal to write my ideas for the day, the only thought tumbling around my head was something I just had to lay out in front of me. And it was the only thing I wrote in my journal that day.
It was this:
Get rid of all the crap you don’t need.
From that moment on I would look around and ask myself if what I had in my possession added any value to my life. I soon discovered the opposite was true.
Most of what I held onto was unused trinkets laying around and collecting dust. My new project was to simplify my life. And I was determined to see it through.
The following day my room looked like I barely had enough to live on. There sat the bare necessities and the sight of a completely different space.
At the moment, I was feeling such a rush that I didn’t think twice about throwing something else out.
I could identify what meant a lot to me (like a photo with my twin brother and my Dad after an AAU basketball championship game) and what didn’t (like the videogame console I hadn’t touched in years).
Pretty soon my environment portrayed the initial thoughts that lead me to that point. Nothing was going to change my mind. But it would not have happened without a hint of curiosity.
That small frame of mind is bound to take us on a wild and rewarding journey; we just have to start using it as much as we throw it out.
What Truly Matters to You?
Minimalism has become, for me, a way of life. Not because I identify with the term, as if I was apart of some club or something, but because the objective of it sits well with what I’m after: a simple, helpful, meaningful life.
To be honest, I would never call myself a “minimalist” because it falls short of describing who I really am as a person. Too often, people place others in an entire category based on one choice they make in their lifetime. Because they choose to do something a certain way, they must be this or that.
I’ll admit, I was scared looking at all the things I was throwing away. I thought that one day I would come to regret the decision. But that feeling comes with anything that requires risk.
The idea of one day getting married makes me both happy and scary. Why? Because I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never experienced that phase of life before. And yet, it doesn’t make it meaningless and not worth pursuing.
I’m not saying it will be easy, by any means. But I am saying that focusing on enhancing the things and people who matter to you is one of the most gratifying choices you can make.
First, it starts with identifying what does and doesn’t matter. Then it requires action, despite the fear, to get rid of the meaningless, harmful, distracting things that pull us from where we belong. The last step is the will to rest in that beautiful picture of simplicity.
People out there will try to define what simplicity means for you. Don’t let that happen. If a book means a lot to you, don’t throw it out. Keep it. The last thing you want to do is act on something without considering yourself.
At the same time, you should always be honest about whether or not that certain thing adds value to your life. If it doesn’t, then making the hard decision of a good thing.
Risks are meant to be scary. Life would be full of boredom without a level of excitement that came with them.
Don’t sacrifice growth and satisfaction in the important things for what makes you happy for a moment. Think about the bigger picture. The one where your life consists of a deeper meaning than what’s “new” or on sale. You deserve more than that.
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