My recent move to Madrid has marked an important step in my life. For the first time I am fully responsible for paying rent and food for myself, as well as everything else that one has to do when he lives alone.
Before moving here I was still living with my parents at their house in Italy. They have a very nice house in the country where I still have some of my old stuff.
When I moved here I wanted to take with me only the essential stuff, and leave at home all the rest. I must confess that this was the best decision I made, in fact I plant to bring back some of the stuff that I carried with me when I’ll visit my family next month, as I figured out that I can live with much less.
The reason behind this decision is that for me having less stuff equals having more freedom. I feel more happy and realized with less. All the clothes that you have in your closet, all the things that you have bought but you never used, and even the ones that you do use but are not a necessity, they all take space in your mind, space that could be used for something else.
As I’m writing with, I realize that you may think I’m crazy. How on earth could someone be more happy with less stuff? To you I want to say that yes, it’s possible to be more happy with less if you only own what you really want to own.
The obvious benefit of having a simple lifestyle is that you’ll have more time in your hands and less things to worry about. You’ll also have more money, or, if you prefer, you’ll have the freedom to work less and still have enough resources to cover your basic expenses.
Let’s take my own situation as an example. I pay around 400 euros per month of rent (I share the cost with my flatmate), and I eat in two (me and my girlfriend) with another 200 euros per month, and I’m definitely not starving. We do have some other expenses, but generally speaking we try to only buy the things that matter to us and that we truly want. Yet we have a lifestyle that allows us to spend our time doing what we want.
We couldn’t do this otherwise. If I would be working all day far from my apartment I would probably earn more money, but I wouldn’t enjoy my relationship and I would have far less time to work on my personal projects. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather earn a bit less but live my life to the fullest.
What do you want to do all day? if you have been living the kind of lifestyle that is generally taught to us, you probably don’t know the answer to this question, but perhaps you know for sure that it’s not what you’re doing now. If you live a lifestyle that is free of distractions you’ll be forced to answer this question. That day will be the first day of your new life.
How can you adopt the kind of lifestyle that allows you to be free and do the things that you love? The first thing that you must learn and practice is to avoid buying stuff that you don’t need. It’s perfectly fine to own something if you really want it or if it can improve the quality of your lifestyle. However buying things just for the sake of it it’s not something that you should do. After all, why would you need those things if you are already doing the things that you love?
One of the reasons that we spend so much money on useless stuff is that we don’t know what to do during our day, so we need to find something in order to fill up the hours.
Again, what would you do all day if you wouldn’t have to worry about money or other things? Answering this question is often referred as finding your passion, and it’s extremely important that you spend some time now to think about it, otherwise someone else will do it for you. What are the things that you love doing, or what would you like to learn if you’d only have the opportunity? Some people like to do art, perhaps you’d love to become a street artist or maybe you want to spend all your day hacking on your projects or business. Even playing videogames is fine if it’s what you really want to do.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Chances are that you don’t know yet how to do the things that you’d love doing, yet that doesn’t mean that you can’t do them. You can learn everything if you want to, and it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from and how old or young you are. You can achieve your dreams.
When you know what your dreams are, it’s time to figure out what you need in order to start living your ideal lifestyle. Most times what you need are money. You need money for feeding your family and for paying rent. But how much of them do you really need? It’s not uncommon for people to realize that they would do fine with just a part time. That way the only work for a few hours every day and then they are free to do whatever they want. How much does it cost for you to go to work? The money that you spend on gas, eating out at lunch, buying appropriate clothes and all the other activities that you must do in order to relax from the time you spent working could be probably saved if you’d work less. Don’t be fool.
If you’re not already doing something that excites you, please stop losing your time. This is your life, don’t ruin it. Find a part time job to work less if necessary or even better find a job where you can work from home. Some people think that it’s unfair to search for work if you are already working for a company, but the reality is that the same company would probably not esitate to fire you tomorrow if they want to. Whatever you do, make sure that you love what you’re doing, or at least minimize the time that you spend on doing stuff that you don’t like.
The final step for living a simple lifestyle is to get rid of all the stuff that you don’t need. All the old clothes, the gear that you bought but you never used, etc, can either be given away or trashed it.
Do you really need a car or a television for living the kind of life that you’re dreaming? Perhaps yes, but if you don’t need them, get rid of them. Sell the stuff that you don’t need and that is only consuming precious space in your mind and in your life.
I don’t have a car, I don’t have a television and I don’t have much clothes. But I’m not really a minimalist. I do own stuff that some people would define useless. I own a laptop, an ipad and an ipod touch. I own a kindle and a cellphone that I use rarely. But these are things that I consciously decided to own. I can afford to pay a premium price for them because I don’t spend my money on other useless stuff. You should do the same. Buy the things that you want but don’t spend your money just for the sake of doing it.
If you can imagine it, you can do it. Living the life that you want is possible, and you can start from today, not tomorrow.