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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Why decluttering one's life, one day at the time, could be the most important thing you will ever do - Part 2. Minimalist living

What are the five items you would bring with you on a deserted island?
What would you buy at any cost, while living on a budget, and why?
What are the possessions that energize you and make your life better, and what are the ones that suck energy and life out of you?
(And here we are again, with Marie Kondo's suggestion about verifying if a specific item sparks joy or not)

[Minimalist living comes in many shapes, forms, and flavors -
Just like in this amazing unicorn multi-layered cake.
What's yours?]

For some of you, these can look like mundane or rhetorical questions, and yet they are not, at least if one is truly interested in minimalist living. They are, in a nutshell, what minimalist living is all about:


- Understanding the why, the what for, the reasons behind every purchase you make.
- Focusing on what matters the most to you, because of you and not because of what everybody else says.
- Practicing self-awareness on a regular basis.
- Knowing what is non-negotiable for you.
- Going to the core of your own desires, expectations, and vision.
- Identifying wants and needs and being very selective about them.
- Choosing quality over quantity.
- Avoiding the excess and eliminating the redundant from your life.
- Being open to change how things have been so far, for you.
- Stepping outside of your comfort zone.
- Enjoying the whole process.

Minimalist living comes in many shapes, forms and flavors and the mileage may vary.
And this is one of the reasons that make it so fascinating and interesting to me since there are no hard rules and everybody can adapt the minimalist principles to their current situation and find a way to go for a minimalist lifestyle that resonates with them and with the values they stand for.

In Western societies accustomed to consumerism, consumption, affluenza and fast shopping like never before, where it is possible to buy almost everything from everywhere 24/7 without having to wait for the delivery of the purchased item or service, more and more people are willing to use  their collective purchasing power for shaping a new, alternative economic landscape instead, as multifaceted and diverse as the actual human landscape can be.


[The American Dream of the Fifties
in a stylish Pepsi ad on the Saturday Evening Post -
Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and... 
stuff that is just "nice to have":
this is where today's massive affluenza comes from]

The big madmen of the last sixty years worked very hard in order to persuade people in a subtle way that conformity, belonging to company people and showing off goods in order to get social validation were the ultimate recipe for happiness.

Please don't get me wrong, here. There's nothing new under the sun, of course: in every historic period of mankind, rich and privileged people were used to showing their power, their wealth, and their social status through their possessions and all the nice things they were able to afford. 
This is what those nice things were there for in the first place.
Still, after World War II it became possible for an unprecedented number of people to do the same and to create a real vicious circle, where everyone wants not only to keep up with the Joneses but also to outsmart and outdo everyone they know. Through stuff.

Fairtrade, sustainability, ethical consumerism and focusing on quality instead of quantity are now seen as useful tools one can use in order to design a different lifestyle, influence society, have another kind of long-lasting impact.

Instead of buying a lot of everything, as often as possible, for whatever reasons, without paying too much attention to the quality or durability of the purchased items and services, people into minimalist living understand that, under some circumstances, less can be so much more and that buying less, owning less and changing shopping habits can be very rewarding, both in the short and in the long run.

[So many colors, so many flavors, so many ways
of trying out the minimalist living]

As already said, the sky is the limit while deciding to embrace a minimalist lifestyle and all flavors are welcome. 
For some people, depending on specific situations, living a minimalist life can mean almost opposite scenarios like:
- giving almost everything away, buying a ticket for another location and living from that moment on as a digital nomad with a small backpack and very few possessions;
- giving a huge chunk of their possessions away, committing to not buying new items and learning how to recycle, upcycle, share and re-utilize what they are keeping in their homes from that moment on;
- downsizing their possessions and their living costs while renting/owning a smaller flat; 
- giving the car away and opting for car sharing, carpooling, biking, using public transportation or a service like Uber or something in-between;
- committing to owning/using a specific amount of items and sticking to the plan as much as possible, like Finnish director Petri Luukkainen shows in the controversial documentary My Stuff;
- not buying gifts any longer and giving loved ones as a present only quality time, self-made items, self-baked goodies or the like;
- every possible combination of the above, and many other options.

Minimalist living is not the solution for every problem in the world, and yet it can make a huge difference in terms of financial freedom, emotional health, self-awareness, better relationships, living a more meaningful life and focusing on what makes one happy.

In the next post, I will be glad to share with you how it changed - and keeps changing - my own life.

Tags: Minimalism, Minimalism life, Minimalist principles, Alternative lifestyle, Decluttering

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