It’s not exaggerating if I say that my life has been changed by minimalism.
What would you think about when somebody mentions minimalism?
Ikea? Muji? Or Xiao mi?
I could find a lot of minimalisms in those WordPress theme websites when I used WordPress to build my blog. Twenty Twelve, the official theme in that year, is an example of minimalist design, even WordPress is not minimal. I began to try this style when I found a theme named paper of Tumblr. I made a WordPress version of that, which is the erlsimple, and changed a little. However, it gradually went far away from minimalism after being modified for several times.
I don’t want to talk more about the minimalist design in this article. It is far before I used Wordpress when I knew the concept of minimalism. I used to buy a magazine in a small bookshop in front of my junior high school, which is Flower and Alice, 7th 2009. The topic of that periodical is air, and both its design and contents were minimal. It was from that magazine that I learned MUJI.
When graduated from university in 2014, I tried to find the meaning of life in those social media, such as zhihu, Quora, Tumblr, Google+ and so on. I saw minimalism once more time. Not only the minimalist style but also the minimalist lifestyle.
The essence of the minimalist lifestyle is to get the plain true meanings of life and abandon those not necessary.
It had been half a year after my graduation when my lifestyle changed. Before that, I usually got to bed after 2 o’clock and got up at 8 am. I had to go to work after a quick washing of my face. I had my breakfast in either KFC near where I lived or the McDonald near the office.
What made me change? I didn’t know. It was only at a moment in a day when I found I shouldn’t keep that lifestyle anymore. Then I changed.
The first thing I did was going to work on foot rather than by bus. I was lucky to live near the office at that time, and I could get work within 40 minutes on foot.
The second was to adjust my schedule. It was hard for me in the beginning for I had been used to stay up late at night and couldn’t fell asleep before 11 pm. I did that by compelling myself to get up at 8 am, then at 7 am, and finally at 6. I had to get up no matter when I got asleep the day before. I either read books or learned English after getting up. Sometimes I did nothing but watching the sky outside getting lighter gradually. I could fall asleep early after a period of adjustment.
The third was to eat breakfast at home. It was at that time I started to learn cooking.
These changes composed the beginning and a small amount of the changes only. But what composed the beginning have been an important part of my lifestyle today and I can’t abandon them anymore. It seems that these I mentioned have little relationship with minimalism, but they are the bases of all the other things.
I left Beijing and went to Shanghai in 2015. I wanted to go to college again at that time, but I felt so hard to study so I continued working. I rent a room with a better environment which cost a third of my wages so that I could have a personal space which I hadn’t in Beijing. I kept getting up and going to bed early. I cooked three meal every day. I read books, ran and did aerobics.
Both life and work were dull and made me lonely. I felt depressed. Life kept still in the surface, but disorder under the surface. I kept thinking about the meanings of life day by day. I read all kinds of books and articles but still couldn’t find any answer. I got insomnia while keeping getting up early in the morning, which made me lack of sleep and felt uncomfortable at work. What zhihu gave me was misleading only. Neither reading nor running was helpful to me, even both of them made subtle effects on my life. But at that time, it was the writing that helped me get rid of depression.
My two-years life in Shanghai was contradicted and disordered. I tried to keep my life simple while keeping obeying the rules I made for myself. My admiration of the life in a big city from when I was young had been disappeared entirely. I just want to leave there for its insolation, disruption, the cost of time and energy on the meaningless things, and the dull and feigned career.
The completed change happened after I came back to this small city where there are rivers and mountains nearby. I don’t know whether the city itself made any influence on my life, but what I pursued but had been disturbed by all kinds of things have been achieved here.
First, I can keep away from all kinds of social media. These social media, no matter zhihu, Quora, weibo, weixin or G+, have disruption only on your energy and cognition, which made you waste a lot of time easily. It is no longer the time lack of information, but the time with excess information.
Second, I no longer watch TV, including TV shows, animations, all kinds of short videos, or even movies. 90% of these videos are stimulations to our sensory only and waste a lot of time, although a small part of them may be wonderful and enjoyable. I can read books or take a walk outside if I want a rest. But it isn’t easy to keep away from that for I often disturbed by other things.
Third, keep away from drinks, junk foods and fast foods. I have been watching a course named The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food of Yale. It is partially about how to eat healthily. I quit sweet almost entirely because of the pain of my teeth, but I love sour and spicy food. I made a good control over my eating this year. I hardly drink the beverage or eat junk food, and hardly eat outside. I can control the nutrition and taste of food by cooking by myself. But I feel weary these days and my body weight lowered. Maybe I need more protein.
Fourth, keep free from facilities and tools. I keep a small count of apps in my computer and mobile phone. These tools and help us do things better, but they can disturb you too. I don’t link to play with my mobile phone, but I have to use my pc often to program and write articles. Pc is a necessary tool to me. It is interesting to find new tools which are useful, but I should be careful not to be lost in that. I try to keep away from my computer in work days unless necessary. And I will review the apps and softwares in my phone and computer to find those are not necessary and to be dismantled.
Fifth, and which is the essential one, shop less. 70% of the contents of these books about minimalism are about shopping. It is not only the time with excess information but also marketing. We are dangerous of falling into the traps others made for us all the time or even fall into these traps without knowing that. It is not easy to think or make decisions freely. Even if you flee from a trap, you can fall into another trap easily. However, I find it interesting to anti-marketing, even I failed most of the time.
What left in life without those things? Maybe working, studying, reading, writing, exercising, or staying with family. The life may be more null than that in Shanghai, but I don’t feel lonely or bored.
I value every minute of my time. I no longer have procrastination or the guilty of wasting time. I still often think about the meanings of life, but I get the target and orientation.
Life needs ornaments, which can become the burden, waste our energy and make us tired if too much. We should stop all the time to think about what we want and what is not needed. The thinking itself can be the pleasure of life.