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Minimalist Sanctuary Posts

Decluttering My Wardrobe

My wardrobe was the first thing that I worked on reducing when I started my minimalism journey.

I could still remember my wardrobe used to have so many clothes that I dreaded opening it. Clothes will literally topple out of the wardrobe and onto my head. Then, I had to painstakingly pick them up from the floor, fold them, and stack them back in the wardrobe. Unknowingly, it caused me much stress.

I took out all my clothes and sorted them into 3 piles- ‘Stay’, ‘Go’, and ‘Undecided’. In the end, my wardrobe was left with 20% of the clothes I used to have. The 80% was given to the less fortunate.

The positive impact from the wardrobe decluttering was so evident that I could still feel it till this day.

I believe that our wardrobe is a very important part of our lives. “佛要金装, 人要衣装 (fo yao jin zhuang, ren yao yi zhuang).” This chinese idiom literally means that “The Buddha needs gold (clothing), human needs clothing”, which translate to the need for people to be presentable in their attire.

Having a wardrobe to be proud of will lead us to happiness and success. On the other hand, a disorganized wardrobe, with undesirable clothes all over the place, will make us uncomfortable and lead to lack of confidence.

For anyone who is keen on letting go of their excess and not know where to began, consider your wardrobe. It is an easy place to start as it somewhere where we need to open everyday.

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3 Things I Prefer Physical

Many minimalists will suggest to “go digital.” When we are able to replace physical stuff with their digital version, we will have less stuff to store, maintain, and stress over. However, here’s 3 things that I still prefer physical.

Photo Albums

The Minimalists have suggested that we should scan our photographs and view them in a digital photo frame. It sounded like a great idea, until I start to flip my photo albums and realized how beautiful the experience of admiring physical photographs in photo albums is.

I understand that photo albums are usually heavy and bulky, therefore, one suggestion is to only keep the significant photographs, like memories of birthdays, travel, milestones, etc. as prints and leave those not-very-significant-everyday-yet-worth-keeping photos as digital copies.

Books

I have bought e-books before. However, I find it extremely strenuous to read on my computer or on the tiny screen of my smartphone. Of cos, there’s the option of buying a Kindle, which I have contemplated to on several occasions, but I’ve yet to convince myself.

As a minimalist, one of the biggest dilemma with books is what to do with them after reading. I am allergic to seeing my precious space having post-read-but-almost-new books stacking up. Perhaps, a good idea is to decide on how many books (5? 10?) we are allowed to keep. As for the excess, we will have to let them go.

Cash

I recently went to China and my friends and I met for dinner at a casual restaurant. When I told them I would like to pay in cash, the staff seemed flabbergasted. In China, their e-payment system, 支付宝 (zhi fu bao) has became such a convenience to the people that they actually get a shock when you pay with cash.

I still prefer the old-fashion method of paying with cash because I track every dollar I spent. I also monitor my bank account everyday. By paying cash, there’s less transaction in my bank account, which makes my tracking and monitoring easier.

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3 Things I’ve Gained After Letting Go Of My Video Games

3 years ago, I realized I was spending too much time on my video games, and it was affecting my personal life in an adverse way.

I would stay up late to play and it affected my work the next day. I was also neglecting my family, and my relationship with my partner deteriorated.

When I discovered minimalism, one of the things I knew I had to let go was my video games. Looking back, I’m glad I was able to do so.

Here’s 3 things I’ve gained after letting go of my video games.

More Time

After deducting the time we spend sleeping and working, we are left with very little time on the rest of our priorities.

Once I found the courage to let my video games go, I began to realize the extra time in my hands.

I probably spend, on average, 2 hours a day playing video games. Perhaps it seemed reasonable. But it actually adds up to 730 hours, or 30 days, a year.

Can you imagine continuously playing video games for one whole month (without sleep) out of a year? Can you imagine all the time you could use to travel, self-improve, spend with your family, rest, work, and pursue your passion?

More Money

After I sold my Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita consoles, I had earned a few hundred dollars.

Although these few hundred dollars is just a fraction of the initial costs, they brought me more happiness, as compared to glueing my eyes to the screen for several hours a day.

We can use them to go for a short trip, buy our loved ones a good meal, etc. Or we can choose to save or invest with them.

On top of that, I’ve stopped needing to go to the game shops to browse for new game titles. Which stopped me from spending even more.

More Purpose

With more time and money, I was able to refocus on my life purpose.

I was able to pursue my lifelong dream to travel to my dream destinations. I was able to spend more time with my family, especially accompanying my beautiful son at every of his growing up milestones.

I was able to pursue my interests in the topics like Minimalism, Zen, Mindfulness, Buddhism, Financial Management, Spiritual Growth and Meditation.

Conclusion

If you love your video games and they make you happy, you do not need to let them go. Continue to play them.

However, if you find yourself frittering too much of your time, money and energy away on video games, perhaps cutting down or letting go of your game time will help you prioritize your priorities better.

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3 Things to Give This Christmas

Christmas is approaching and many of us will soon be busy with our Christmas shopping.

For a minimalist like me, there’s always the dilemma of whether to participate in this annual mad rush of buying. After all, giving is an important part of Christmas. But beside giving the same physical stuff year in, year out, here’s 3 things for you to consider giving this Christmas.

Give Shopping Vouchers

If you are considering buying T-shirts for your loved ones, you can consider giving shopping vouchers instead. Rather than buy something that you are unsure if your intended recipient will like, why not just let them make the decision? Avoid having the trouble of needing to guess if they will like your presents.

Take a photo of the present you intend to buy. Write a note or send them a message,”I intend to buy you this, but I am not sure if it’ll suit you. So, I am giving you these vouchers so you can buy anything that you like instead.”

Give Experience

Giving experiences can be as expensive as bringing your loved ones for a holiday in Paris or a more affordable one like giving everyone a Starbucks voucher. 

When we give experiences, we save our receivers from the consequences of accumulating stuff- clutter, stress, guilt of wanting to sell/give them away, etc. We also save the planet from having more landfills.

Donation

While we are enjoying the good food and amazing company with our loved ones, don’t forget there are less fortunate people out there. Give some old clothes away to keep others cold. Give some food. Give some money. Reach out to others.

When we give, the biggest beneficiary is ourselves.

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Living With Non-Minimalists

One of the concerns that many minimalists have is, how to live with their non-minimalist family members?

When we start letting go of our belongings and begin to act differently, our family members will take notice. I could still remember 2 years ago, when I decided to let go of my Facebook account, I was called a “hermit” by someone really close. Was I offended? Not at all. In fact, I felt that it’s perfectly fine.

We have to realize that people react this way only because of their lack of understanding. Explaining your choice of becoming a minimalist is really up to you. However, if you don’t feel like doing so, then don’t.

Sometimes, if we are not careful with our explanations, we unknowingly find ourselves trapped in a unwanted debate on why minimalism is good/bad. Which leads to unnecessary stress and fatigue.

The best way to continue living in harmony with non-minimalists is to respect one another. The key is when other people see that we are doing great, that’s when they want to know our secrets too.

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The Universe

Galaxy

The universe represents more than just planets, stars and galaxies. It also represents possibilities.

The universe is endless. The observable universe itself has more than 10 billion galaxies. But the real numbers are unimaginable as new ones are being discovered everyday.

Train your mind to be at one with the universe. Once you are able to achieve that, your mind will become limitless and you will be able to see infinite possibilities.

Image by belinspired

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Anger

Nowadays, People get angry over everything. In fact, it feels like people are constantly looking for things to get angry about.
Why is anger present? Anger is a feeling. It is a tool given to us. But just like a sword, if we are clumsy of how to use it, it may harm us more than it can protect us.
Someone may bump against our shoulders during rush hour. Another person may steal our parking lot. And immediately, the anger in us starts to boil. Maybe that person has an emergency to attend to? Give them the benefit of the doubt. Find the grace and magnitude in ourselves to forgive others.
Never allow anger to manifest in our mind and body. Uncontrolled, they’ll turn into violence and violence will lead to more undesirable outcomes. Being constantly angry affects us physically. It increases our blood pressure which leads to health problems like stroke and heart attack. It affects our day in the office adversely. It affects our sleep quality at night. It may even affect our relationships with our family and friends.
When we are prone to anger, we are actually in a vulnerable state. We may see angry people as brave. But actually, they are in a extremely weak mental state. When we are being confrontational all the time, we succumb the controls of our feelings to the people, or things, that makes us angry.
Since young, I never understood how could those grandmasters in kungfu movies be so calm in the face of even the worst calamities. Now, I do. Being angry in angry situations is easy and doesn’t require much strength. On the other hand, being calm in angry situations requires much experience, wisdom and self-control.
So, learn to let go of anger. Control anger, not letting anger control us. Take a deep breath when we encounter a potentially angry situation. Or even better, avoid these situations. Walk away from anger. Suppress anger. Meditate. Sleep through anger. Let time be your best friend in times of anger.
Most of the time, as time passes, you’ll realize how small the issue really was in the first place.

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Scaling

scaling

Recently, I was in the humble city of Maoming.

While in the streets, I spotted this dentist meticulously attending to his patient. The way he was going on with his job, without a care of the hustle and bustle outside, intrigued me deeply.

I whipped out my camera and carefully snapped this photograph.

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A More Positive View

Often, when we attempt to put our points across, we tend to first bring up a lot of negatives of the contrary. The reason for doing so? Justification.

For example, many minimalists tend to talk about how stressful it feels with all the clutter in their lives. How hoarding is bad. How accumulating too much is detrimental to their sanity. How this is bad and how that is bad. And because of all these negative consequences, minimalism is the way to live.

Similarly, environmental groups, religious groups, politicians, etc. these days seemed to apply the common pattern of needing to vilify the views of non-supporters, to promote their own.

These examples may seemed innocuously harmless, but is it?

The problem is that by applying this method of promoting our views, we are inadvertently subjecting ourselves to generating a lot of criticism. Although criticism is not necessarily bad all the time, it creates negativity in us.

If everytime we need to put ourselves in an environment, where we have to create a lot of negativity before advocating our messages, we could be potentially putting ourselves at the risk of ingesting too much resentments. Ultimately, we end up running in loops, seeking happiness and positivity, in vain.

Instead, wouldn’t a piece of message be more beautiful and convincing if it’s able to fully focused only on it’s own advantages and strength, without any need to disparage others?

The next time you’re delivering your message, practise some self-observation. Try to curb your urge to criticize, or if criticisms are necessary, be mindful and attempt to reduce the necessity of it.

By being conscious of what we think, we can get into a habit of generating positive thoughts.

Perhaps our vilification of others is an evidence of how soft and lame ours really are.

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3 Things Not to Give This Christmas

One of the big decisions to make during Christmas period is to decide on what to buy for our loved ones for their Christmas presents. Here’s 3 things that I will be striking off my to-give list.

Clothes

Clothes is a very subjective choice. People have different fashion sense. And also choice of material. And of cos, there’s the problem of mismatching sizes.

If you are buying clothes for your children, that’s OK. But perhaps you may want to consider other stuff if you are buying for your grown up friends and family members.

Wallets

How many wallets does a person need? Unless you are buying for your partner and you know his/her wallet is damaged, you might want to avoid giving wallets as presents.

From my personal experience, most people only carry wallets that are either bought by themselves, or given to them by their partners. This applies to bags as well.

Pets

Never ever buy pets for people, no matter how ‘sweet’ it may seem. We should never give living, and moving, things that are made from flesh and blood to people. It doesn’t matter if it’s fish, terrapins or dogs.

These breathing organisms require a lot of attention, care and money to look after. The animals may be subjected to negligence once the novelty runs out. 

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