Simplifying my life.

I choose to make my life simpler. And I work to achieve that by minimising what I have – be it in terms of material things around the house, to the commitments or projects I undertake, or even to the social circle I keep.

My guiding principle to the process of minimising what I have is the simple question of asking myself “What adds value to my life?” That itself is sufficient for me to determine what items to keep and what items to throw/donate. I have learnt how to detach myself from material things through the constant reminder that when I die, none of these things will follow me to my grave. That feeling of not being attached to worldly things is so liberating and it gives me a sense of serenity within me. This is also why I no longer keep mementos. Mementos tend to make me relive the past and I do not want to be caught up wishing to go back to the past – no matter how good the memory is, especially how good the memory is – because I want to focus on living and enjoying today.

With respect to commitments and projects, I have learnt how to say “No” without feeling guilty for doing so. I believe in the importance of doing less but making sure that whatever little I’m doing has the maximum output value to my life. This is where I apply the Pareto principle. Since I’ve used this method, I find that I am finally able to complete whatever I have undertaken and that in itself gives me the most satisfaction and thus the most value to my life. I have learnt that saying “No” to certain people or things doesn’t equate me to being an asshole. The good people respect my decision regardless of whether I have provided an explanation for my rejection. Those who respond negatively only proves to show me their lack of character.

This brings me to my next point – the social circle I choose to keep. I have let go of friends who no longer add value to my life. I do not keep friends who do not stand by me in times of hardship when I go to great lengths to be there for them. I no longer hold on to friendships that are already dying and hanging by a thread because we have all grown apart. As an adult, I am much busier now trying to cope with my responsibilities. It leaves me with very little time, energy, thoughts, and emotions for my social circle. Therefore, I choose only the best for me to invest my precious time, energy, thoughts, and emotions on. I choose to have deeper and more meaningful friendships with people who can add light and positivity to my life. Not only that, I choose people who can enrich my mind and my soul – who can teach me new things and motivate me to be a better version of myself. I am too old for drama right now so I avoid the kinds of people who tend to create drama. I also avoid spending too much time on social media – that is one place where so much drama happens. The less time I spend on social media, the more time I have to enrich my life, and the more time I have to actually sit down and meet up with my friends.

I don’t apologise for the choices I choose to make. It might seem selfish. But I honestly do not believe that it is wrong for me to want something better for myself. A better reality for myself in which I am at peace, satisfied and serene. By simplifying my life, I am able to avoid unnecessary drama and focus on the important things in life. I maximise my time and effort on the things that matter so much to me and these are the things that give the most satisfaction to me. At the end of the day, all these worldly things are only temporary. The less I am attached and caught up in it, the better it is for me to focus on the hereafter. Keeping my life simple has made me become a better Muslim and a better human.

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The MUJIfication of Things.

I am still on my journey to living minimally. The Tyler Durden follower in me has somehow reached a point in my life where I reject the consumerist lifestyle. I didn’t know how to start living minimally while still being able to sustain a decent comfortable life in pricey Singapore. So I turned to the internet for some guidance.

What I have found though, was that the concept of minimalism that I had is different from what it is typically understood in the world today. It seems that minimalism nowadays is about sticking to a particular aesthetic. Yes, aesthetic is the apt word to use. Sure, one needs to own less things. But there seems to be a standard requirement to look a certain way. I call it “the MUJIfication of things”. I first knew MUJI as a shop that came from Japan and sold Japanese household products. But that brand gained popularity through its sleek and simple design and somehow its signature plain aesthetic became a standard among minimalists here.

I don’t have a problem with wanting to have a simpler life or a simpler aesthetic or even wanting to buy MUJI stuff. What I have a problem with is how being minimalist involves having to buy into a particular look? Monochromes, MUJI products, wood, sleek lines, natural lighting. And the best part, all these things aren’t cheap. Why do I have to revamp everything to look a certain way all in the name of minimalism? Wouldn’t a shoe cabinet by any other name would smell as bacen? Why do I need to change my shoe cabinet to be all white made from sustainable organic Scandinavian wood that costs me a bomb in order to be minimalist? How is this any different from being a consumerist?

It bothers me that the minimalist lifestyle nowadays isn’t just about living with less and making do with what you have. But that it is masked consumerism much like the hipster lifestyle (pay lots of money to look poor). There is still a need to conform to an aesthetic and certain rules like owning X number of things. To be honest, it does reek of privilege. When you can afford to own a lot of things, you have the capacity to limit yourself to a certain number. For people who aren’t affluent, there is no need for them to put a limit on the number of things they can own because what they can afford to have is already so little.

But as with everything else, to each his own. Do what makes you happy.

As for me, I focus on myself and my intentions. My intentions are to live within my means, and not to spend in excess. As someone who believes in an afterlife, all these things are only material and they do not follow me in the hereafter. I don’t see any reason to conform to a certain lifestyle or aesthetic as I don’t see the need to seek acceptance/awe/pleasure from others. As I would always say to myself and have the same words repeated to me by the people who matter,

“Adakah ia akan membawa awak ke Jannah?”

(Will it bring you to heaven?)