Minimalist Living: The Lifestyle of Freedom

Source: David Turnbull on Flickr

The purpose of this post is to introduce the concept of Minimalist Living, and to share with you why I’m pursuing this kind of lifestyle.

 

 What is Minimalist Living, and Why is it Important?

Minimalist living is essentially the growing response to a perceived problem with the way we live.

The American Culture, and 1st world cultures in general have developed an unhealthy mindset and thus, unhealthy lifestyle that subtly steals from our freedom.

From an early age we develop the notion that we’re entitled to certain things; a good education, a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house in the suburbs (or maybe in the country as long as the commute isn’t too far), at least 1 good vehicle (a minimum of 2 if we have a significant other), 1.3 children, and an average  household debt of $197,000… Wait, I don’t think I want that!

But that’s what we get when our pursuit of happiness is misguided:

  • Average credit card debt: $15,000
  • Average student loan debt: $32,000
  • Average mortgage debt: $150,000

Oh, and 1.83 dogs and 1.57 cats.

 

These are American household averages, and not everyone wants the same thing, but as a whole,

We have an unhealthy perception of the American dream.

Am I saying that having a house in the suburbs is bad, or that having 1.83 dogs in your house is bad…. Well 1.83 dogs may be bad if you think about it, but no, none of these desires are inherently bad or unhealthy. It’s good to have goals and work your way toward those goals, but the problem that presents itself isn’t the goals, it’s the way we go about getting to them.

And that’s were we run into issues.

I’ve seen countless individuals pursue what they believe is the American Dream; the Pursuit of Happiness, and essentially enslave themselves to their goals, which substantially reduces the joy of achieving them.

 

 

For example: Running a marathon – for many people, the fulfillment of completing a 26.2 mile run is well worth the dedication, intense training, and overall lifestyle you develop in the pursuit of that goal.

I think many if not most people would agree that running a marathon is an impressive accomplishment.

But if I dedicate 46-60 hours a week in my training, to make sure I attain my marathon goal, I think most people would say that’s a bad thing. I’m sacrificing time with my wife, time with my family and friends, neglecting my dogs (all 1.83 of them), and probably not earning the money I need to support my family.

 

So we’re all thinking at this point – ‘46-60 hours – that’s a horrible example – who in their right mind would spend 46-60 hours on anything?’ Money’s not even worth that… or is it? You see where I’m going with this.

 

Statistically, the average American works a minimum of 46 hours a week, just under 40% of Americans work over 50 hours.

 

Many of us, myself included, work closer to 60 hours a week.

 

 

 

And that’s rough because 60 hours divided by 5 workdays = 12 hours per day. If you sleep your healthy 8 hours, and take roughly an hour out for commute to and from work, you’re left with 4 hours to do whatever you want with.

 

But wait, you have to eat – cooking dinner takes at least 30 minutes, eating, another 30, but we’ll leave that out because at least we’re eating with our family right?

 

According to the Journal of American Medicine, 43 percent of American families eat together every day – so not even half.

 

But let’s say we do – taking out the 30 minutes to prepare the food, we’re left with 3 ½ hours to spend with our family.

 

Granted, we do have two days off. Maybe a weekly approach will give us better numbers:

 

Here’s the numbers on a weekly basis:

 

There are 168 hours in a week, -5 hours for commute, -2.5 hours for food prep, -56 hours of sleep, and -60 hours for making money.

 

That leaves us with  44.5 hours, or a little bit over 6 and a half hours a day for our spouses, friends, family, dogs, cats, fish, hobbies, and chores.

 

That means that an individual working 60 hours a week spends 33% of his or her time sleeping, 39% of their time working (with commute added in), and 28% to be divided between chores, hobbies, family, friends, and spouse.

 

Unfortunately, roughly half of that time will likely get eaten up by keeping the house clean, doing dishes, sweeping, tidying – mowing the yard or shoveling the driveway – keeping up on house repairs, fixing the cars, feeding the pets, and God bless you if you have children…

 

The Minimalist Lifestyle Solution

 

The good news is, there’s a different approach we’re not used to hearing.

 

The lifestyle that can help us pull us out of the average American lifestyle is called Minimalist Living. This is the lifestyle I’m striving for, and is a large part of the records of the Living Apex Project.

 

It’s a lifestyle that many people have dedicated themselves to, to get themselves out of the mind numbing repetition of inevitable failure that we call the “American Dream”.

 

While the concept is subtly different from person to person, the core focus of the Minimalist Lifestyle is to take priority from the acquisition of money and material items, and hone in on the more important things in life .

 

I think that means something different to everyone. For some people that means focusing on their relationships, for some people that means traveling the world and adventure, for others it’s time spent on things they really enjoy; their sports, hobbies, etc.

 

One way or the other, being a Minimalist allows a person to achieve the important goals in life, not what our society tells us is important, but what is truly important on a real, and personal level.

 

For some people, that does mean working 60 plus hours a week, and many people are perfectly happy with their job! The focus isn’t quitting your job and living out of your car or something.

 

It’s about ridding yourself of anything that keeps you from your most fulfilling activities and goals.

 

How Can I Start Living a Minimalist Lifestyle?

 

 

 

For most of us, it means letting go of unnecessary things – by things I mean the “stuff” that we accumulate over time.

 

Often the things we own actually own us.

 

If they had the option, most people wouldn’t slave away week after week at a job they don’t care about, spending close to 75% of their time working, eating, and sleeping. But they have to, because of the “stuff” they own.

  • Average credit card debt: $15,000
  • Average student loan debt: $32,000
  • Average mortgage debt: $150,000
  • Total: $197,000

 

This debt keeps America working, and as a whole, we aren’t very happy about that.

 

Now I don’t want to take anything away from good, honest, hard work. I love the work I do and I’m the type that will never retire because I enjoy my work – I have absolutely nothing against hard work.

 

But I do place a high value on freedom; having the option to stop working if need be, should I decide to travel with my wife, or refocus on our relationship, or any other number of reasons I would need to slow down a bit.

 

So I hope you’ll stay tuned as I share whatever Minimalist tips and tricks, and strategies and ideas I come across.

 

I’m not saying that our lives are garbage right now, they’re probably not, and they may be great!

 

But I believe there’s a better lifestyle than the one I’m accustomed to, and living a Minimalist Lifestyle will free my life from clutter and unnecessary baggage so I can pursue the real American Dream.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Living Apex Project - Minimalist Living: Leadership, Health/Fitness, and Lifestyle. - April 18, 2013

    […] my writing is limited to my own interests and experiences, the core of this project is Minimalist Living. These are the current […]

  2. How Consumerism Shapes Our Lifestyle - Minimalist Living: Leadership, Health/Fitness, and Lifestyle. - April 19, 2013

    […] of their lives working at jobs they hate, but they do out of necessity – In a previous post “Minimalist Living: The Lifestyle of Freedom” I found that the debt may be the reason many of these people have no other option but to work at […]

  3. The Top 10 Advantages of Minimalist Living - Minimalist Living: Leadership, Health/Fitness, and Lifestyle. - April 19, 2013

    […] Less focus on material possessions: Gaining freedom from materialism is more than a simple change of mindset. When you clean your basement or garage, you often find […]

Leave a Reply