The Don'ts of Minimalism
Though there is no one way to practice minimalism, there are inspiring examples to take cues from – such as the life and words of Epicurus.
Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little — Epicurus
When you think of Epicureanism the first thing that may come to mind is the pursuit of pleasure. To many, pursuing pleasure means living lavishly, acquiring as many things as possible, and engaging your senses without moderation. However, this is in direct conflict with the actual philosophy of Epicurus.
To Epicurus, the pursuit of pleasure meant alleviating pain, removing things that brought about suffering, finding tranquility of mind, and staying in balance. His philosophy was not about asceticism but it wasn’t about overindulgence either, and it can be interesting to see simple living through his eyes.
So how do you become better at discerning true sources of happiness? How do you craft a pleasurable lifestyle that also gives you peace and serenity of mind? Consider what not to do.
DON'T HANG ONTO STUFF
If it makes you cringe or evokes any type of negative feeling when you look at it, it should go immediately. If it doesn’t bring about a feeling of joy or other positive emotion, toss it.
DON'T DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU UNHAPPY
There are always times when you have to do something you may not necessarily want to do, but if doing something causes you to violate your values or consistently makes you sad, angry, or frustrated, find a way to eliminate it.
DON'T BE PERPETUALLY BUSY
Something is out of balance if your sense of value is based on how many appointments and activities you can pack into a 24-hour period. Perpetual busyness keeps you from slowing down and savoring all of the wonderful moments that make life worth living.
DON'T BEFRIEND PEOPLE SUPERFICIALLY
The ability to regard yourself highly, instead of depending on approval or acceptance from others, is requisite to living a simple life. If they don’t add meaningful value to your life (and more importantly you don’t add meaningful value to theirs) then it’s not a relationship worth having.
DON'T STAY IN UNPLEASING ENVIRONMENTS
People underestimate the extent to which surroundings impact their mood, thoughts, and behaviors. This includes both the aesthetic and atmosphere (i.e. the aura or energy it exerts). It’s important to understand the type of environments that inspire you so you can choose where you spend your time wisely.
In short, don’t do anything, own anything, be anywhere or around anyone that you don’t love. If it makes you feel bad (or doesn’t make you feel good) it has no place in your life.
The Epicurean life, in its true form, is a type of minimalism that doesn’t force you to get rid of the things that bring you pleasure, but enables you to wisely differentiate between what is really happiness and what is just suffering in disguise.