This is post is part of a month-long series about integrating minimalism into your lifestyle. We started off with three basic tips: buy less, don’t own anything that you don’t need, and question what’s normal; then we covered how to spend less and how to scale back your possessions.
I admit it – I think out of the box most times, and have been called a little bit radical on more than a few occasions. But I do not preach a life of self-employment, homeschooling and veganism, just because it is how I typically live. And I have not always been this…quirky. I got here by asking myself some basic questions, and when I was not happy with the answers, I made changes.
In this final installment to this minimalism series, I ask you to think outside of the box by questioning why you want the things you do, why you own what you may not use or need, and whether you are really getting what you need from the life you lead.
- Do you remember 20 years ago, when virtually no one had cell phones, never mind smart ones? Do you know people who still do not use them? Why do you need one? I do not.
- Think about how big the home you grew up in was, and how big the homes your parents were raised in were. Do you sometimes feel as if you need a bigger home, despite the probability that yours is larger than generations’ past?
- When you were a kid and one of your friends had a toy you did not, were your parents likely to buy it for you? Or were you more likely to use time with your friend to play with it? Why do all kids nowadays seem to have the newest and greatest, just like every other kid?
- What would happen if your household only had one car, or none? If you live in a populous city, with mass-transportation, could you make it work?
- How reliant are you on technology to get through your everyday? Odds are, the applications, various communication methods, and lists you use to make yourself more available and productive are actually taking time away from your day.
- Are you happy with the education that your children are receiving, and more so, are they happy? Do they get excited about learning, like they did at one, two and three years of age?
- If you had the option to stay at home, or work from home, or homeschool your children, or be the breadwinner while your spouse did one of the above, would you? What stands in your way, now?
- How often do you unplug from life and go an entire day without checking email, reading blogs, texting, and using other forms of passive communication?
- Do you buy the foods you do because of convenience, price, or a label intimating that it is healthy? What would happen if you stopped buying convenience foods, period?
- Remember back in the day, when a day with family meant packing up a picnic and heading to the park or beach for most of the day? Why do we over-organize our free-time, when we could languish on the grass, blowing bubbles in the spring breeze?
- If you spent an entire day only doing the things that were mandatory, would the world blow-up? Imagine that you do only the necessary work, cleaning, and cooking for the day. Over-extending ourselves is a common symptom in modern-momville.
- Why do you exercise? I am not negating the benefits of it, but if you are choosing a method to feel the burn because it worked for person X, or you want to look like person Y, you might want to reassess. Exercise is supposed to be fun, and something that makes you feel alive and energetic. Not as if you must get in the time, drop the pounds and sweat, or you are failing.
- How often do you get to sit down and read? You can tell me you are too busy, or that your kids will not let you, but I might call it hogwash. Let yourself have some time to unwind with a book – hopefully everyday – even if it’s only for 30 minutes, while your kids are flipping through their own.
- Do your kids hook themselves up intravenously to the Playstation, Wii or Xbox, only quitting when really, really
yelled atasked to? Why not join them, to see what is so great and spend some time with them? Consider it Quality Time 2.0.
- Do your traditions orbit holidays, period? Regular traditions are a great way to tie everyone together when you are used to running in different schedule-mandated directions. What about regular date nights with each of your kids, or family potlucks, where each family member prepares a dish?
- What if every family member owned a bike? Odds are, you might find yourself riding together and commuting differently.
- Do you have lots of contacts on social media sites? If so, you are probably not actually communicating with them all, so why list them as ‘friends’?
- You can only bring 100 things to a desert island with your family. What do you pack and why?
- What did you want to be when you grew up, and how did you envision your life? What is different, now that you are, and why?
- Do you have a love that you rarely get to indulge? Whether it is travel, cooking gourmet meals, or watching the sun rise with a steamy cup of coffee, what is really stopping you from doing it more often?