Living a simple lifestyle

A simple room for a simple lifestyle
My close-to-clutter-free living room

Slugs everywhere this morning. Snails too. Was trying not to step on any because I thought that if I were a slug, my day would be bad enough already without someone stepping on me. Snails too, which are kind of like posh slugs. I like to think of them as slug home-owners. The prospect of stepping on someone’s home wasn’t appealing either, so I did an awkward walk, staring at the floor all the way to the train station.

I’m in a good mood today. In my never-ending quest for prosperous ascendency I’ve purged some more of my home possessions. I opened my memory box – a shoe box I’ve kept since my 18th birthday, in which I keep things from my past with sentimental value – then I purged the **** out of it. I didn’t need to hold on to half the crap in there. Bus receipts? Gone. Revision notes? Cya. Now instead of a box full of half-crap, I have half a box full of important things. So now everything of sentimental value to me fits into half a shoe box.

Also I have tomorrow off work and I’m going to London for the weekend. One of the cool things about my life is that I get invited to all-expenses-paid parties each year. This year it’s a disco on a boat floating down the Thames. I’ve been polishing my moves for weeks in preparation – I expect I’ll be able to… rock the boat. Bam! I even made myself laugh with that one.

Anyway, because of this there’s a possibility I won’t make it to the gym on Sunday. I don’t like the sound of that, so I’ll see if I can squeeze it in after I get back Sunday evening. After all, 90% of success is just showing up. The other 10% is doing bicep curls. (I’m joking – don’t do too many bicep curls.)

Approaching a simple lifestyle

What I want to talk about today is living a simple lifestyle. If you’re like me, you have a lot of junk in your life. Reams of it. Everywhere. In your home, on your computer, in your relationships, at your workplace, etc. Probably even your desk is a mess. All this clutter gets in the way of the things that are important. All this clutter gets in the way of even thinking about what’s important. Do you know what’s important to you? Do you know what your ambitions are, and are you part-way through your plans to reach them?

Most people seem to live a lot of the time on auto-pilot. They get suckered into wanting what our culture tells them to want. A nice house, a family, a fancy car, money, etc. We look at the people who have these things and think, “hey, they’re pretty successful.” But I look at them and think, “man that looks boring.”

Now, some of them might be a walking paragon of happiness – and for them it’s great – but it’s not for everyone and it’s only success if that’s what they really want. If they’re doing it for external validation then they’re wasting their time because nobody gets validation 24/7. If you can’t find your happiness from within then you’re relying on the unreliable external world. And what was Rule #1? Don’t rely on the unreliable. Having money and fancy things really doesn’t fill the void for very many people. People become “successful” and wonder why they don’t feel it on the inside. Deep insight: it’s because they’re not, they’re just mislabelled.

People tend to accept society’s values as their own, get their 9-5, feel trapped and then suck it up until eventually they reach the promised land, AKA the retirement centre. That’s great if that’s what you want, but what’s important is that you ask yourself that question. Before you turn on auto-pilot and let chance and circumstance dictate where you end up, ask yourself: where do you want to end up? What are your goals? What would you do if money were no object? What would truly make you happy?

That’s what I do. I have a modicum of “success” in that I have a nice job with career opportunities and a dental insurance plan. I have a nice flat full of stuff that I don’t really need. I’m lucky to have gotten higher in the corporate ladder than a lot of my peers. But I also think a hell of a lot about what’s important to me and where I want to go. And as it turns out, I don’t really give a crap about climbing that ladder to the top. What’s important to me is attaining internet fandom becoming an aikido instructor and the best person I can be. So that’s what I put my energies into.

I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t have clear priorities. A simple lifestyle is the means to avoid things unnecessarily getting in-between you and your priorities. It lets you focus on what’s important to you. And when you feel that you’re living the life you want to lead, it’s much easier to be happy. It’s not easy to be happy when what’s important to you is discovering the lost crystal of Pico Pico but all you do is cold call people to sell them double glazing. Don’t do that.

What a simple lifestyle really means

This is why I’m attracted to the simple lifestyle. You remove the crap that doesn’t serve you, freeing up your time and resources to be spent pursuing the things that do serve you. In my case, that means getting rid of my stuff, quitting my job and moving to a country with robots and maid cafés world class aikido instruction.

Because I know what my priorities are, I become acutely aware of whether I’m making progress and whether things are getting in the way. It’s hard to end up wasting years. Knowing what’s important makes it natural to want to move in that direction, and feeling that want, all I have to do is have the balls to let go of the old, and the self-discipline to achieve the new. But you have to know what’s important to you first. You have to know what the hell you want to do with your life. Why do you want to stick around on this planet? What do you want to achieve?

Living a simple lifestyle brings all the important things to the forefront. It doesn’t mean a life of deprivation like some people seem to think it does – it means exactly the opposite. Having a simple lifestyle means getting rid of the junk and filling your life with the important things that leave you feeling enthused and imbued with purpose and meaning. Having a life full of junk is the life of deprivation.

So if you feel you’re wasting time, living life aimlessly, not really sure what you’re doing, snap out of it! Think about what you want to do and find a way to make it happen. Find your passion. Find the reason you care about living for years and years. Listen to your emotions. Find what makes you happy and fulfilled and give yourself over to it. There will only ever be one [insert your name here] on this planet and that’s you. So damn well make it count, no excuses!

Matt Bowen

Matt is a blogger, budoka and software developer. He sold his things, quit his job and moved to Japan to study Japanese and martial arts. Sometimes he writes about it.

2 thoughts on “Living a simple lifestyle

  1. “Living a simple lifestyle brings all the important things to the forefront. It doesn’t mean a life of deprivation like some people seem to think it does – it means exactly the opposite. Having a simple lifestyle means getting rid of the junk and filling your life with the important things that leave you feeling enthused and imbued with purpose and meaning. Having a life full of junk is the life of deprivation.” I liked this part as well as the overall theme of this post. I think minimalism as a lifestyle is terribly misunderstood. Have you heard of Danny Choo? http://www.dannychoo.com/en/post/26094/How+Discovering+Japan+Changed+My+Life.html He is something of a legend among contemporary japanophiles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *