Mindfulness – The Key to Minimalism

Sometimes, I get in the way of my own success. I don’t mean to, it happens unintentionally.

For example, one day I was driving by one of my favorite bath and beauty product stores. This is the time of year when my favorite bath and body stores have huge sales on their products — up to 75% off! Usually, I go and stock up. It’s a huge sale, and I love a good sale. I automatically put it on my list of errands for the day.  Thankfully, I was lost in thought about something more important and missed my turn.

In June, I quit eating meat and seriously limited sweets and animal products. Overall, I have been doing well with that. However, one day last month, I had pizza (one of my favorites). For the next four days, I continued to eat pizza and other junk. I’d tell myself: I’ll do it just this once. The problem is, I said that about four times. Of course, I did get back on track, but it took nearly a week.

These are but two recent examples when my actions have been contrary to what I say my goals are. Is the problem that I don’t want to live a simple and healthy life? No, these are two things that are very important to me. So why do I keep messing up?

My slip-ups seem to occur when instead of thinking carefully about what I want to do, I simply do what I have been conditioned to do. They happen because I am not being mindful.

Isn’t mindfulness what minimalism is all about? Isn’t the goal to eliminate the mindless spending and consumption? Isn’t healthy eating about avoiding unhealthy foods and choosing healthier ones instead? Both of these things require mindfulness. They require that I actually think, rather than rely on my default patterns. I have to stop and think before I eat that donut, or make that purchase, about what I really want to achieve.

Truth be told, the moment when I’m standing over the pound cake isn’t the time to make the decision. I need to plan my course of action well in advance. The key word is plan. I need to be mindful about my choices, and make them ahead of time, if possible.

(In my whiny voice) But that will require that I stop and think every time I get ready to eat something, or every time I reach for my wallet. YES!! It will!! That’s exactly what it requires. That is exactly what will have to happen. I am never going to live a healthy life or a simple life without thinking… without being intentional.

Anything worthwhile in life requires effort. Effort requires attention, mindfulness. Mindful about what we eat, mindful about what we spend, and mindful of how we spend our time. To me, this is living simply.

What will you be more mindful of today?

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7 thoughts on “Mindfulness – The Key to Minimalism

  1. I just found your blog referenced on The Minimalistas, and I’ll definitely be back for more… 😉

    I find that, when I live aboard in the summer, I have a very easy time with mindfulness and self-control. But back at home, especially when work gets stressful, I think “hey, I’ve had a rough day! I deserve this chocolate (pizza, wine, etc.).” But that is so non-productive. Self-control is a tough thing.

    1. Hi Bethany!

      Thank you so much for stopping by. Sometimes, I also want to reward myself for getting through the day. But you’re right; it is counterproductive to use food or shopping to do it. I need more self control, but it is soooo hard.

  2. Your post brings up an interesting phenomenon, and it stems back to Epicurus. The goodness of something has to do with the avoidance of a bad.

    Indulgence is so often sought as a means to happiness. We may think that the more tasty baked goods we eat, the happier we will become. Well, Epicurus didn’t think so, nor do I. He “recognized that a lifetime of pleasure would not come from drunken revelry and the unconstrained satisfaction of lust”. Obviously these pursuits contain consequences. Thus, I think, we should always be on the lookout for these consequences and avoid them as our first attempt at the happy life.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for stopping by. I like your perspective. I think it helps to keep in mind that the goodness of something lies in the avoidance of bad. Unfortunately, I tend to pursue life’s pleasures. I never really thought of avoidance of bad as a pathway to happiness. It’s an important distinction, and something that I need to keep in mind – especially the next time I find myself staring down a slice of chocolate cake.

      1. Oh, we all seek pleasure in pleasurable things. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you pull our habits and pursuits apart, and we work out which really make up happy, we tend to arrive at the point of avoiding something bad in order to deliver good.

  3. I really enjoyed this post (found you via the Minimalistas blog) and subscribed to your feed… I look forward to reading more! While we are not of the same faith, I think you are an excellent writer and delve into some universal truths worth exploring. All the best!

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