similarities in Stoicism

An interesting supplement to developing a minimalistic lifestyle I have found is the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. A Grecko-Roman methodology adapted today to be a framework for making better decisions and training oneself to be less reactive, ancient Stoicism spawned from many teachings of Socrates on ethics and rationale. Stoicism directly informs a minimalistic lifestyle in its adherence to simple living ideas, its focus on one’s self rather than one’s “stuff” and its goal in reconnecting people in community through shared bonds.


Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants…

Epictetus

Simple Living: Seneca said that philosophy (specifically stoicism as he held to it) “calls for simple living” and “conformity with nature” (Letters from a Stoic). In the same way, minimalism today is “simple-centric” (my own term) and some habits I use to try and reconnect soul with nature by first directing the mind out of distraction pair very well with stoic mindfulness teachings. Practitioners of both minimalism and stoicism use meditation as a way to slow oneself throughout the day and find peace of mind about the chaos in the world. As I have paired down the number of things in my life, I have tried to hold to many stoic precepts about the importance (or rather unimportance) of “things.” Marcus Aurelius said, in his published diary, Meditations, “how swiftly all things vanish away.”

Identity: Likewise, Seneca spoke of our identities linked to our belongings saying, “anyone entering our homes should admire us rather than our furnishings” (Letters from a Stoic). This can be seen to an extent in Minimalistic architecture and design, but also in how people practicing Minimalism build their lives. By designing my life around the things that truly matter and will not fade so swiftly, I am able to lead an intentional life with less clutter and more freedom.

Reconnection: The final kinship shared between these two methodologies is in their emphasis on reconnecting with the people around us in the truest sense.“The first thing philosophy promises us is the feeling of fellowship, of belonging to mankind and being members of a community” (Seneca, Letters from a Stoic). As Joshua Fields Millburn of theMinimalists says, “Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”


“And this you will only achieve in one way, by convincing yourself that you can live a happy life even without (riches), and by always regarding them as being on the point of vanishing.”

Seneca


One final word about the duality of these two applied lifestyles that are adapting to our evolving culture: Stoicism is a philosophy and minimalism is purely a lifestyle that has no established connections to the antiquated worldview. While supplementing Stoicism in parts of my personal life has been effective, it is not something that created the part of my identity that is being a minimalist. It simply helps me organize parts of the chaos…

on writing briefly

The act of starting to write here is a challenge. Even the writing of just those 10 words took all of 5 minutes, 6 to 8 revisions and many last minute polishings, not to mention the 4 other times I attempted writing and was not content.

(The exaggeration here should be palpable, but still not far from the truth.)

Writer’s block is not the problem here, but something along the lines of perfectionism. I have never considered myself a perfectionist as I care very little about cranking out the last 15-20% of a project if it’s passable as is. Since I’ve begun writing these posts, I’ve come to understand why I’m having this struggle and its root in the very thing I am writing about. I have become nearly obsessed with the idea of minimalistic speech and writing. Developing these thoughts is where I catch myself doing the exact opposite of my intentions.

Being precise in my speech has been a task where I have found this principle most influential, because while I am conflicted in the hesitation of the ideation to existence that drafting a post allows, I am forced to craft words much more rapidly in conversation. Less is more, right? I believe this is especially true in communicating a point and so, in the future of writing the College Minimalist, I will be striving to pack as much substance into the words I choose and convey my thoughts briefly for your pleasure and mine.

minimalism: the exposition

“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom.” This quote, from the website of TheMinimalists, helps me begin to unpack this word often inaccurately affiliated with things like downsizing and being a hippy or nomad. The truth about minimalism that makes me so excited to share here is that it can be defined in so many different ways. So long as it abides by a few components, pursuing the same end goal, minimalism can truly be what you make it. 

Being a Minimalist isn’t measured by how many things you have to live with, but by how you live with the things you have.

In college, I have defined my own version of this. The purpose of my being a self-proclaimed minimalist is to clear the clutter to discover the important parts of my life and live them to the fullest. I try and reimagine what my life would be like with less and pursue that ideal. This ambition takes many forms in my life from the number of clothes and books* I have, to the way I schedule my time and commit myself. By not getting caught up in the “mess” of a busy and scattered life I’m able to more easily (while still imperfectly) live my life with the freedom that I find daily in the simple things.

***(Update– 16 August 2019: I feel the need to admit the status change in my relationship with books- I have recently “overindulged”, one could say, in my ownership of books and find my collection growing to a sizable amount)***

So to recap minimalism:

  • It is not cultish, boho, “hipster” or a fad
  • There is no one way to define a minimalist (hence the “self proclaimed”)
  • As a lifestyle, minimalism can bring about change to your home, mental, digital and work life
  • And living intentionally with less _______ (insert almost anything) can enable you to live more freely

a simple introduction

Learning to be content with a simple existence… I’ll try and not be too serious with this inaugural post to ‘the college minimalist‘ (the “subtle” name I’ve chosen for this blog), but I’m writing to talk about a choice that has been reshaping my life and lending me the clarity I’ve needed to redefine the path I have been on. 

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Another self-proclaimed Minimalist who believes that they need to impose their views on the world through the words of a blog. But I believe my writing here can be unique and fresh while reinventing other’s ideas and approaches. I think I am entering a blue ocean of creativity and space to work within.

I truly hope to provide any reader with something enlightening and rejuvenating that maybe strikes a chord or lights a flame. While in these next few years of college as I post here, I intend to not only write for the university student who’s looking for some insight into another student living this lifestyle, but also to those interested in the topics I may discuss.

These topics will include:

  • minimalism and rest
  • minimalism in college
  • minimalistic dorm rooms
  • minimalism or essentialism
  • digital minimalism
  • minimalist creators
  • minimalistic budgeting
  • minimalism in relationships
  • productive minimalism
  • minimalist habits

And many more…

I believe this project will evolve over time as my current plan is to being writing weekly about topics relating to the subject I love and am passionate about in Minimalism. I don’t know where this writing and your readership may take me, but I pray my thoughts on the pursuit of a meaningful life may find you right where you are and speak to you in a way that blesses your own journey…