Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Head & Heart Conditioning Preparing yourself mentally & emotionally for minimalism

The second step in my 15 Steps to Minimal Living is head & heart conditioning.
This step is one of the most difficult to do, one of the easiest to skip. Only if you have successfully completed Step 1 – Identifying & Inventorying can you complete Step 2 appropriately.
Why are you contemplating the minimalist lifestyle? If the reasons are purely monetary – for example, you already are experiencing financial problems – then like a diet forced on you, your efforts at becoming a minimalist will fail. If, however, your reasons for embracing minimalism focus on a desire to get the most out of each moment of life rather than out of each acquisition and possession, you are pointed in the right direction.
Heart & head conditioning requires that you brace yourself for the downside to lean and green living, while being invigorated by what you will gain by “walking gently.” Since lean living means relinquishing many of the excesses that one acquires throughout life, it is important to identify those items as excess, rather than essential.
That is where heart versus head conditioning comes into play.
Are you willing to give up your vehicle entirely? Probably not. In fact, the auto is a virtual necessity for many of us. If you live outside the reaches of public transportation, for example, that car provides you with the link to your job, family & friends, etc. Even though car pooling, buses, etc. offer options, they may not be realistic or appropriate. When I worked as a business consultant, I kept my auto – a 2000 Toyota Echo – to travel to clients’ places of business. Note that the Echo offered the least ostentatious vehicle option. At the same time, it was eco-friendly, great on gas, and provided the ability to transport almost any goods I needed to move.
Deciding to downsize to the Echo, though, was an illustration of heart versus head conflict. Would I have preferred a fancy, upscale vehicle? Probably. However, giving up on greed has its own intrinsic satisfaction.
In deciding on what you are willing to relinquish, examine the emotional attachments and desires that each object represents. Going lean and green should not be a decision to deny yourself of the joys and pleasures of life. Instead, minimal living simply directs you to give up on non-essentials. There are many instances where what may be non-essential for some people has such an emotional attachment that is becomes vital for another.
Last year, we donated our entertainment centre, our love seat, our extra bedroom furniture, exercise equipment, many of our appliances, and my Toyota Echo to others. They were superfluous.
However, we retained our Wii Fit and television, while dropping our cable coverage. Did we retain a luxury in the Wii station? In my opinion, we demonstrated pure minimalism. The exercise equipment duplicated our fitness regimen needs, our kids have all moved away ( so we did not need the extra furniture), and we are using a minimum of electrical equipment (making the appliances unnecessary). The Wii, indeed, represents “lean” for us!
Heart essentials and head essentials each should be evaluated in your plan to go lean and green. The two are not incongruent or incompatible.

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