Minimalist Believer

A blog about minimalism and the Christian life

Month: November, 2012

How To Make A Change

My life is a work in progress. I have made some changes, but I’m not done yet. I am thinking of going deeper into minimalism. I’m thinking about becoming more aggressive about a healthier lifestyle. I want to pursue the life of my dreams.

These are the things that I have been giving my attention to for the last several weeks. There are a few blogs and books that I have been reading that inspired me to make these changes. But how does someone approach such a life change?

I believe that there are three phases that are necessary to making a change:

RESEARCH

Research is the initial phase. Reading is a essential — reading widely and reading critically. Gather as much information as you can, from as many sources and perspectives as you can. On which topics do the authorities agree? On which topics do they disagree? What do you consider to be an authority? Is an authority a Ph.D.? Is an authority a spiritual leader? Or is an authority someone who has successfully achieved your goal? You must determine what an authority is for you.

Read as much as you possibly can. Read every day. Take notes, if necessary. The goal is to arm yourself with the information you need to motivate you. Then set a goal for  yourself.

When it comes to simplifying my life, I read as many blogs as I could.  Having this diversity helped me to see that there are many different approaches to minimalism. Some people count things. Others feel that counting is unnecessary.

In recent months I have also been reading books and blogs about vegetarian and vegan living. The authors are knowledgeable and they cite various nutritionists, scientists, and doctors. While they do not agree on everything, most seem to agree that eating a plant-based diet is much healthier.

 

REFLECT

Research is of limited use if it is not applied. Reflection compares your research findings with your current life situation. It is asking yourself: how can this apply to my life? In what way can I implement this? Will this make my life better? How?

Of the things you read about, which would you like to see as a part of your life? Which ones aren’t right for you? Write these things down. On paper. Have a record of the changes you would like to see in your life.

I can benefit from unplugging from the consumerist culture in which we live.  I will benefit financially and mentally. It will also prove beneficial in the management of time. There will be much more time for writing, learning, and doing the things I love when I’m not constantly in the mall.

Similarly, I know that I can benefit from eating a plant-based diet. I am still in the process of implementing all the things I am learning, but I am making progress.

 

REALIZE

Now that you have conducted your research, and reflected upon your findings, what will you do about it? How will you realize your goal? Now is the time to make an action plan. The goals that were outlined in the reflection phase, what is required to realize those goals? Write down the actions necessary to make these ideals reality.

Living a simple life will require that I make some changes. I cannot purchase things mindlessly. I must donate, sell, or throw away things that I do not use. I have to focus my time and energy.

Pursuing a healthy lifestyle will require that I introduce new foods into my diet and eliminate some others. I’ll have to try some new recipes. I’ll have to plan my meals and try to keep healthy snacks on hand.

This is how I approach change. I go through these phases. Did you notice that I don’t call them steps? Steps are linear, and I find that the process of making life changes is not necessarily linear. It is more of a cycle. Even as you are realizing change, you may be research more. It’s the cycle of change, and it keeps going. I am moving through these phases now, and I can’t wait to see the changes that result.

Gratitude

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 118:1

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

Psalm 105:1

We are tremendously blessed, and it is good to express gratitude for all the blessings we have. We may not have everything we want, or even everything that we need, but we are blessed all the same. So in the spirit of thanks, I will tell you five things that I am thankful for.

I am thankful for work. I have two part-time jobs. Neither job is dangerous. And as a result of my part time jobs I am in a better place financially than I was last year.

I am thankful for my community. People were created to do life in community. My community consists of my family, my church, my friends and my online communities. They love me. They inspire me. They keep me going.

I am thankful for what God is doing in my life. It’s difficult to explain this one because I’m not exactly sure what he’s doing. I do know that he is doing something, though. I feel like my relationship with him is improved. I hear his voice better. I’ve seen him work on my behalf.

I am thankful for health. I feel good and I can do everything I need to do. I can do the things I want to do. So many are not. 

I am thankful for the opportunity to be a blessing. I have had lots of opportunities to give and to serve this year. People have been so gracious to me, and it feels good to be able to bless someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Minimalist Shopping

Simplifying life is a learning experience. We learn to purge.  We learn to think differently about stuff. We also learn to shop differently.

I had a successful shopping trip this weekend. I am now a minimalist with a thick camel sweater and a cream turtleneck. I have been working so hard to eliminate the excess in my life so I took specific measures to avoid making unnecessary purchases.

The most important part of my shopping trip happened at home. I laid out every shirt I had on my bed. I looked to see what went with my pants and skirts and what would allow me to get the most wear out of my wardrobe. When I had everything out I realized that I needed a white shirt and a versatile sweater to keep me warm. Armed with this information, I grabbed some coupons and headed to the store.

So how does a minimalist approach the shopping expedition?

Minimalists shop with purpose. Shopping is not a leisure activity; it’s an expedition. A minimalist knows what needs to be purchased and which stores or departments will be visited. She then sticks to those areas.

Minimalists have strict standards. Minimalists look for specific things. This past weekend I could only purchase items that met my predetermined criteria. My sweater had to be thick. I was purchasing a sweater for warmth, not the latest trend. A minimalist knows what needs need to be filled and focuses only on items that meet those needs. A minimalist will eliminate the rest, no matter how cute or how cheap.

Minimalists aren’t desperate. On my recent shopping mission I was prepared to come home empty-handed. If didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, I would not purchase anything less.

Minimalists are obsessed with quality. Minimalists have fewer items in their wardrobes, so every item is important. There is no room in our lives for clothes we don’t need or don’t love. The clothes we do have are used and washed more often so they need to be well made. Personally, I want them to last as long as possible so I focus on quality and ease of care.

Shopping as a minimalist is a whole different experience. Instead of trying to get as much as I can for as little as possible, I now seek to buy as little as possible. I try to meet all my needs with the fewest items. If I can do so inexpensively, even better.

While it doesn’t happen often, minimalists do need to shop. It’s ok. Minimalism isn’t about never buying anything again. But it is about not buying things you don’t need. It’s about shopping strategically rather than shopping mindlessly.

How do you approach shopping while living simply?