When I sat down to create an image for today’s post, I looked on my graphics program and the one below was already created for me. It was almost like the program knew just the right quote for the day… I love it when that happens!
Living… that’s what I am writing about today.
We can declutter and minimize ourselves to death, but unless we use this lifestyle change to start living, what’s the point?
If you search the web for posts about minimalism, you will no doubt come up with quite a few that talk about living intentionally. It’s pretty common knowledge in the minimalist community that when you rid your life of all the excess that distracts you and takes up your time and energy, you can then start actually living the life you want to live.
In other words, you can stop just existing.
Existing to pay bills.
Existing to clean a house full of clutter.
Existing to spend free time organizing.
Existing to spend more money buying more things you don’t need.
Existing for the world while forgetting who you are.
Most of us just exist. But I want more. And that desire for more is where living intentionally starts to kick in.
So what does it mean to live intentionally?
I think it is important to first understand that the word intentional means deliberate. It means that whatever is done intentionally is done with purpose. Intentions themselves are your goals, things you aim to achieve; they are those things that give you a sense of value.
Therefore, living intentionally, as defined by me, is deliberately living a life with the purpose of achieving goals that align with your values.
Going forward on this minimalism journey, I want to make sure that the choices I make are intentional. I don’t want to fall into the trap of just existing, and that is so easy to do in our society! With a cultural climate that screams out to us to buy everything, rack up the debt, and spend more time online than with the people we care about, it is so easy to lose sight of all the things in life that truly matter.
Advertising is everywhere. We can’t go for one day, much less one hour, without seeing some. It makes it really hard to say no to all the bright and shiny new things. And when we see that our friends or family have those new things, it can be even harder.
I’m trying to get away from the influence. It’s not that I am going out in the wilderness and cutting myself off from society so as to not have to see it all, but I am training my brain to rethink and process the information of advertising differently.
When I see something that looks amazing, I ask myself if I really need it or if it is just something that I want in that moment. Needs and wants are two very different things.
If it is something I am just wanting, I am practicing asking myself why. Is it a want because someone I know posted a picture of it on Instagram? Is it a want because I feel like I’m missing out on the next new thing? Is it a want because I am emotional and will buy anything in that moment? Is it a want because the company made me seem like a loser for not having it?
What is driving the want? That’s the most important question. Often, by the time I get done figuring out why I want the thing, I am over it. I spent so much time thinking about it that I no longer care to have it.
As for needs, well, if you need something then you need it. But I try to look around and find the best price and the best quality. Emphasis on quality because I will save money if I only have to buy it once.
No More Debt
We worked extremely hard to get out of debt. At this point in our lives, the only debt we hold is our mortgage. I sure would like to pay that off early! I don’t tell you this to brag. I tell you because being in debt is the new American way and it is killing us from the inside out. The stress and anxiety created from debt takes its toll on your health, relationships, and life in general.
For me, part of living intentionally is not creating anymore debt. This sounds easy, but it’s not. Every day, I have to make the choice to not go into debt. I say no to a lot because I just don’t want to live my life paying someone else. I say no to extra toys. I say no to excess clothing. I say no to new items when the old ones work just fine. I say no to extra trips to the grocery store and rely on shopping my pantry.
I make intentional choices so I won’t have to break out a credit card. I just say no.
I’d like our minimalism lifestyle to create more opportunity for experiences. I’d like us to travel more, even if it is just within our state. I’d like us to go to more events and celebrate more occasions. We can’t do that if we are debt.
Intentional Life Offline
Another choice I am making in my effort to live intentionally is to spend less time online.
When I rejoined social media (Facebook and Twitter), it was a big deal for me. I thought long and hard about it. I didn’t want to get sucked into the online world to the point that my family suffered. I didn’t want to become that person who always asked for just one more minute when the kids needed me. In other words, I wanted to make sure I remained available in real life.
The online world can suck us in. We have all been in situations where we are having dinner with someone and they stare at their phone the entire time. Or we try to have a conversation with a friend and the friend is constantly checking their notifications as if they are more important than the face to face communication you are having in the
real offline world.
It’s frustrating, to say the least. And I don’t want to be that person.
I have been trying to set certain time limits for myself. I try not to check my phone during certain parts of the day. And I make sure that if I am engaged with my family, the phone is put away.
Am I always perfect at this? No. But I’m trying.
Living intentionally is just as much of a journey as minimalism is, but I do believe that one leads to the other. There are so many other intentional choices I am making these days, and I will try to cover more of them in future posts. For now, I want to leave you with something to think about…
Are you living the life you want to live, or are you just existing?
Think long and hard about it. If you feel like you are stuck in a never ending cycle, I encourage you to make some changes. Do something about it now. Change doesn’t happen unless you make it happen. Life isn’t meant to be all about working to buy things we can’t afford and stressing out about how to pay for those things. Life isn’t meant to be all about staring at a screen and never looking up. Life is meant to be lived, so go live it!