I’ve been reading more and more about living simply to enjoy life. Zenhabits.net has a post on simplicity every week. This led me to think about how I can simplify my life?
#1 — Declutter. One of the things I did earlier this year was to sell a lot of my stuff on eBay. To be honest, my motivation then was not to declutter, but rather to make some money to offset things I was buying. For example, I replaced my laptop, home theater receiver, speakers, and home network. All in a few weeks. I sold DVDs, video games, high-end men’s clothing, and other things I had no need for. I also donated a few bags of clothing to Goodwill. While I did not declutter for the right reasons, it felt good to get rid of so much stuff in my apartment.
My apartment is much cleaner and more comfortable to be in nowadays. While I’m still living here, there’s not much more to declutter. Perhaps the T.V. in my bedroom, but it is so old that throwing it away would probably be bad for the environment. I suppose I can donate some books, like law texts which I have not touched since law school.
#2 — Spend less. The goal here is to become less materialistic. Of course, a Zegna suit is nice, but do I need it to be happy? Can I live with a Merona (Target brand) suit? I love my German luxury car (that I paid for in cash), but can I still be happy with a compact car?
Also, spending less also involves doing more yourself. One of my bigger expenses is food. I eat out for lunch and dinner almost every day. While this adds up, I can afford the expense. But cooking myself allows me to gain another life skill — cooking. And by doing so, I experience more of what life has to offer, which is the ultimate goal of living simply.
#3 — Manage my ego and the expectations of others. I can finally admit it — I’m a recovering yuppie and elitist. It’s easy to look down on the less fortunate or those who aren’t as well educated when you’re a big firm associate. It’s easy because you’re miserable as well, but no one is going to sympathize with your problems because you’re so comfortable financially. That’s no excuse, of course. Actually, it’s pathetic and repugnant for anyone to think they’re better than someone they don’t even know.
I’ve always enjoyed meeting the expectations of others. The positive feedback really feeds into the starving ego. I’m still struggling on how to tackle this issue. For example, my parents want me to do well. Not at the expense of my happiness, but they would be unhappy if I were to throw everything away and live a simple life. I respect my parents and want their blessing on what I do, but I don’t know if they’d accept a radical change. Also, I want to be in the position to support my parents in their old age. I feel selfish for throwing away a big salary that could help my parents when they get old for my own happiness. *Bleah*
#4 — Be present. A lot of times I space out when I’m hanging out with other people, including my friends and my g/f. These moments, when strung together, make up our lives. I strive to make the most of my life and not to take it for granted, for no one knows how when it can be taken away.
#5 — Find myself. In order to live a meaningful life, I have to discover what has meaning for me. After all these years, I’ve lost a sense of what makes me tick.
After reading Zenhabits.net, I decided to search for other blogs about simple living. Then I discovered the blog of my spiritual twin. Apparently he was in my shoes only a few years ago. Harvard law grad who was making $300K+ at a big firm in D.C. He realized how unfulfilling his life was and took action. He put his 3,000 sq. ft. townhouse on the market and got rid of all his possessions save a few boxes of personal items. He gave away all his savings above what he needed to survive to random strangers. Then he got on his bike and rode across the country.
I do think this individual is more extreme than I am. As a lawyer, he indulged excessively, which I don’t do. As a law firm survivor, he pared his life down more than I would feel comfortable doing. But what he was thinking is along the same exact lines as my thoughts these days. I hope I can muster up the courage to make the same changes in my life that he’s made in his.