Minimalism, Order And Peace Of Mind
It seems like in today’s materialistic and fast paced world, that peace of mind is harder to come by. Most lives are cluttered with both material things and activities that eventually lead to a stressful life and then a slew of resultant negative manifestations.
Our lives revolve around a pervasive media that programs us at an early age to spend, consume, and accumulate. Eventually a man can find himself buried in debt, useless accumulation and a lifestyle that is reeling out of control.
After a few years of the rat race when a man has accomplished a few things and experienced some of the finer material rewards in this life, a level of stress and emptiness can take hold.
This will wear on a man’s spirit over time. It will steal his joy for life, his vigor and can even poison his soul. Eventually he will need to hit the pause button and assess that perhaps more is not better. Maybe less is better.
Old memories of peace of mind and clarity of spirit will begin to call out. These are feelings that he knows are congruent with a healthy life and are also right with the Creator. Over time they have been buried by the chase for material wealth and the modern lifestyle of constant so called upgrades; a bigger home, a better car, a boat for the cottage and a new kitchen.
One day it will dawn on him that outside of his Life Mission and loved ones, perhaps peace of mind is the ultimate pursuit. After all, no matter a man’s accomplishments and material success, is it really worth it without peace of mind? Would there be any better way to exist than to live with peace of mind every day? As a man reflects on these questions his righteous spirit will realize and present to him the truth.
As he looks around at his home and possessions and evaluates his manic lifestyle, he will come to understand that taking a simpler and minimalist path is indeed the answer. At bare minimum it will set the foundation for a leaner and more meaningful existence. Accumulation and consumption have certainly not done it, as it has sent his life spinning in the wrong direction. So perhaps it is time to pare away and simplify.
Perhaps it is time to go Spartan and pursue minimalism for peace of mind.
It is only in the last 50 or 60 years that western society has transformed into one of material excess. Perhaps we are a victim of our own success having achieved a living standard unmatched in all of human history. Now that we have all the basics covered it seems as though we have gone too far. Perhaps the constant marketing and available credit that pervade our lives has made it an easy sell.
If you think about it though, it really doesn’t take much for a man to live the good life. Having a quality modest home, healthy food, good health care and a few nice things are all a man really needs to lay the groundwork for an exceptional and fulfilling life of accomplishment. Excess material wealth and consumption will simply get in the way.
The first and most obvious step to begin a change in direction then, is to create a high level of physical order. Clutter and excess must be addressed. For a man to have a clear head, his home (and place of work if he can control it) must be free of clutter with open space and room to breathe. And the easiest manner in which to do so is to get rid of the vast majority of one’s possessions.
If you live with a woman, it would be smart to start with the areas of your home that are considered under your control. My experience is that you will encounter some resistance so it is best to set the example by cleaning out your own closets first so to speak. Go hard and get rid of up to 80%-90% of your possessions. Set the bar high and warm her up to the task. Keep only the absolute must haves. Consider it a fresh start.
My inclination is to just coldly throw things right in the dumpster, to make quick work of it. After all, who would want any of my old junk anyway? It might soften the blow and encourage your woman, however, if you task her with the responsibility of charitable donation. This will add a little more meaning and emotional comfort to the dispersal.
In a similar vein, do the same with your financial instruments. If you have multiple bank accounts, investments accounts, credit and debit cards, then consolidate and cut way back. Doing so will bring your financial holdings much needed clarity and control.
Set the tone for the rest of your life. Go lean and cut way back. Taking this simple step will on its own remove significant stress from your life. Your home will be more pleasing to the eye and a refuge from the hectic world outside. In the back of your mind you will know that you have a solid measure of control and physical order to always fall back to.
In paring away at both your physical possessions and financial accounts, you will break the habit of consumption for its own sake. After all, you are now creating momentum in the opposite direction. You will set a new standard to live by and be proud as you walk into your home each day knowing it is lean, mean and under control.
Start at the most basic level and begin the process of putting your mind at ease. Put an end to a life of excess consumption and material possession by cutting back to a minimalist material existence.
The answer for financial order is quite simple — live below your means. Take the necessary steps and consider minimalism here as well to give yourself some breathing room and some more peace of mind.
Most men here in the United States will live right at the edge of, or even beyond their financial resources. The credit is out there and the banks are more than willing to make you a slave to their profits. After a few years of overspending the stress from accumulated debt can become suffocating. Combining the pressures of work with the downward cycle of excessive debt service will often lead to many unhealthy physical and psychological manifestations.
If this situation sounds familiar or perhaps you see yourself headed in this direction, resolve to make some serious changes. After all, it’s your life and your health. Don’t sell them out for material gratification. And don’t sacrifice your health in this way to please your woman either. If you do, in the long run you will be no good to her as well.
Instead of using your home, automobiles and lifestyle as the symbols of your success, change your thinking to a more minimalist standard. Make your balance sheet and monthly cash flow your indicators of choice; for doing so, will eventually lead to financial independence and freedom from the need to work for pay.
Any man who is gainfully employed over a period of years can achieve a strong measure of financial control and prosperity. Even true financial independence is eventually attainable for all with consistent application. As the saying goes, be willing to do the things others won’t do right now so you can do the things others cannot do in the future.
The absolute outcome to strive for in restructuring your finances is to cash flow every month. In other words, spend less than you earn and always have extra money on hand at the end of the month for paying down debt or savings and investment.
Get serious and go after the two big fish holding you back from a life of financial control and independence; your home and your automobiles. Ask yourself some hard questions. Are these things worth your health and prosperity? Are you really prosperous driving your luxury car and living in your oversized home if you are a slave to your wages and the debt needed to experience these material wants?
It certainly does feel great to drive a high performance luxury automobile and to live in a beautiful home. But is it really worth it in the long run at the expense of what’s really important in life; health, financial security and the peace of mind to really enjoy the time you have with your loved ones? In my opinion it is not.
Have the courage to downsize or “right size” your home and automobiles. Live within your means and change your focus to your cash flow and balance sheet. Create a luxurious investment account over the long run instead. Make every day at work one step closer to freedom by going minimalist with your finances.
Own your time and own yourself.
Order Through Process
Add some more peace of mind to your life through the elegance and efficiency of process. For all those things that need to be done on a regular basis at home and at work, develop and take pride in creating a lean, efficient and repeatable process.
Schedule and simplify as much of your life as you can in a minimalist fashion. Create a process for as much as you can. This will create a rhythm and order to your life that will free your mind and allow you to focus more clearly on what’s important.
Having a regular schedule for those tasks that are repeated every day, week or month will add structure, reliability and control to your life. This is minimalism in action. It will streamline your obligations and create space for the necessary free flow in a fulfilling life of accomplishment.
Once you get into a reliable rhythm of process, begin to work as well at becoming more efficient. Doing so will add a measure of elegance to even the most common of activities. For me, elegance is pleasurable and the primary benefit from such is peace of mind.
Yes indeed, besides accruing peace of mind from material and financial order, we can also experience the same from minimalism in action. This is living a quality life and one which is primed for success and happiness.
Let’s discuss a few of these basic areas and see how we can develop some efficient and elegant habits of process.
Get the smartphone application for your grocery provider. Shop from home using the app before you get to the store. This will eliminate impulse buying and keep you on budget; simple, but smart. Considering the multiplier effect of 52 weeks a year, this can add up to some impressive expense control and will tie in nicely with your new financial acumen.
Leverage your new efficiency at the common task of grocery shopping to improve your eating habits. Create a healthy framework for your diet and then incorporate that into your grocery app selections. For example, if you were to eat Paleo as I do, then discipline becomes very easy when shopping if everything is preselected. You’ve studied up on healthy eating for vigor and fitness and now adding a repeatable process to your grocery shopping will greatly help you in that regard.
Another simple habit to adopt for control over your diet is to prepare your lunches in batches ahead of schedule. For me it is usually chicken, green beans or broccoli, Greek yogurt and some cheese. It is pretty much the same thing every day. No more eating expensive, fattening processed food for lunch. I eat a high protein, filling, low calorie lunch that keeps me full until diner. Combining these lunches, with intermittent fasting and a large Paleo dinner at night leaves me with the same six pack abs I had at eighteen years old. Not bad for a man married 25 plus years.
Create a simple but repeatable workout plan for the long term. Get yourself a basic weight kit and a heavy bag for your basement. Having this equipment at home will save expense and add reliability to your training over the long run. Lift or kick box every other day for 30 minutes or so. If you alternate between lifting and cardio, this will give you four days to heal up between workouts and minimize the chance of injury. Over the long run you will reap tremendous benefits and separate yourself from the masses.
Get control of your spending and bill paying by going fully electronic. Get a copy of Quicken or utilize a cloud based service such as mint.com or youneedabudget.com. Use this software to download every cent you spend on a weekly basis. This is a quick and easy process that will allow you to see exactly where you (and your woman) spend your money. Pay your bills that are due up to a week out and you will never have a late payment again. Also make sure to sign up for direct debit as available with your vendors to add to your efficiency.
And now that you can see and control exactly how your money is spent, sweep your extra monthly cash flow into a separate untouchable account on the first bill pay of every month. Or, if you’ve gone hard core enough to live off of one salary, enjoy reconciling the separate account to which the investment paycheck is fully deposited each pay cycle.
Take pleasure in this action each and every time. This will be the empirical evidence that you are not only working to survive, but working to prosper. It will become clear you are one step closer to financial independence after each workday. This is living and working as a man should.
Enjoy Peace of Mind
There you have it gentlemen. If peace of mind is what you seek, stay right with the Creator and pursue minimalism through physical order, financial order and the order of process.
It may take a while to untangle your life, but simply take it one step at a time. Make it a point to roll the ball forward a little every day. Eventually you will develop some momentum and a calmness of spirit will begin to seep into your soul.
You will never regret paring away to remove the excess in your life. There is just something right about living a lean efficient lifestyle. Certainly there is always a place for luxury, but not at the expense of peace of mind.
Always remember the gratification that comes from material things is fleeting. And like an addiction, a tolerance will build up and you will eventually require more to renew the high.
In contrast, the peace of mind that comes from implicit accomplishment, from principled living and virtue is about the best there is on this planet.
Perhaps this is so because it gives us a small taste of what is possible in the next life.
All the best,
Max Panzer is the publisher of Becoming a Force of Nature. He is an independent business owner and has been married to the same woman for over 25 years. Max pursues his Life Mission at full throttle and works to cut through each day with a stronger, sharper, gleaming edge.
This article was originally published on Becoming a Force of Nature.