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The Minimalist Mindset

Apply this Mindset NOW!

Photo by Andrew Mantarro on Unsplash

So what exactly is this mysterious and intriguing mindset? I’ll cut back on the dramatisation. I call it the Minimalist Mindset. And no, it’s not the same as minimalism. It’s a combination of Aristotle’s philosophy of happiness and Adlerian philosophy which I picked up from ‘The Courage to be Disliked’ by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi. Aristotle’s view is essentially one where fulfillment outweighs hedonistic pleasures while Adlerian philosophy is one where our singular goal as human beings is to ‘belong and feel significant’.

This minimalist mindset casts contempt on materialism, pointless consumerism, and sporadic pleasures in an effort to make the non-ephemeral the main focus of life. It has helped me invest time, energy, and resources into that which will be of inherent value. This makes me feel like I’m contributing towards a greater purpose and hence, feel significant.

The mindset can be applied both physically and mentally. Let’s start with the latter. By minimising the input to your mind and body by eliminating the negative and fruitless (scrolling through frosted cakes on Instagram Explore!), there is more space for positive growth. In my experience, exploring different avenues for personal development was deeply beneficial. It included nourishing myself with reading, meditating to achieve an alert state, honing valuable skills such as learning languages, discovering inspiring music, seeing everything with wonder, and indulging myself with the rich art and culture of the world and finally, creating goals that initiate an adrenaline rush. This isolation period is the optimum time to work towards long term results. They take time and effort and hence are lasting investments. There is a direct correlation between input and output and this minimalist mindset is applicable to enhancing the quality of your input so the output follows suit.

As part of strengthening this mindset, I’ve started an online Gratitude Diary. It is such a great way to start the morning or end a day. By finding the elements deep within you that spark a feeling of abundance and contentment, it helps you recognise that the most fulfilling entities are never those that provide short-lived sweetness. Setting goals is a great way to identify my weaknesses and once again I can adopt this minimalist mindset by trying to phase out or minimise these flaws I have. For one, I definitely speak too quickly at times and can tend to come across as sharp and even hurtful. The aftermath of the event always leaves guilt gnawing away at me. Hence by creating those short term objectives of watching my tongue and softening my approach, it can go a long way in relationships.

The physical or literal application also plays a role and can lead to the culmination of this mindset. I have done thorough spring cleans a numerous amount of times (no, it is not because I am a neurotic individual) as it is therapeutic to rid yourself of clutter. Obsolete junk can be given away (if useful to another) or chucked. Having a clean space creates a great aesthetic that can motivate you to be grounded to your desk or be a reminder of the set of beliefs you’re trying to live your life by. I have seen many clearing out all their stuff before promptly buying lots of glass furniture, white tools, and artificial potted plants. This lifestyle does not embody the minimalist mindset or even minimalism! It’s about not buying or accepting products which will be unnecessary in the first place. Honestly, it’ll only launch a fresh wave of guilt and burden you with unwanted emotions. Instead, find ways to use up all the old stuff you have. I have collected about 50 notebooks since I was a little and almost all of them have 2 pages scribbled in. I got them out of my cupboard and started using them as rough paper. The Mickey Mouse motif on the pages was hardly a deterrent towards writing out a list of cranial nerves. I have never really been into sewing but my friends have redesigned their old clothes by sewing on a pattern and jazzing it up while not consuming more. It gives them a sense of accomplishment, is great for the environment and they come out with a renewed look on materialism. Surviving on just the few essentials needed is very satisfying and I hope to keep improving in this every day.

I’ll describe an actual example of where I tried to put this mindset into action. A couple of weeks ago, I was dallying in my room when I thought I’d clear out my desk. Having been an extremely high achieving student throughout my school years, a great pride of mine was my 20 trophies that lined my table. They were a pretty big deal — I mean they’d been sitting on my desk for 18 years despite my attention towards them fading as I matured. FINALLY, I tucked them away in the storeroom. It was funny to realise that I just didn’t care — they held no meaning. One of the trophies was an award that I’d beaten 300 people to obtain at an Oxford Summer Programme but that trophy frankly doesn’t elicit any feelings in me. What I remember about that day was having the guts to ask the professor a complex question about lasers and then explaining the concept to my fellow peers. Those feelings have endured and rush back to me in similar moments. That’s long-lasting fulfillment.

When a new concept is offered, it can seem overwhelming. Going vegan, learning to ski, applying calculus. The minimalist mindset is just another concept. There is no expectation to jump off at the deep end. I am a complete beginner and am constantly learning from my friends and inspiring individuals on the media. Move at the pace that feels right for you. You never want to move too fast that you can’t sustain a beneficial idea but you never want to get off too slowly that you don’t even start implementing the idea at all. Start off with buying one less thing while shopping or clean up a small portion of your desk or watch a video on these ideas. All those actions are guiding you towards implementing a minimalist mindset.

One of the reasons this mindset may seem intimidating is that it seems to cut out all the deeply gratifying facets of your life. I love watching TV series’ on Netflix! I also am guilty of scrolling through social media or buying Cadbury bars to binge on. We all need these ‘treats’ to sustain any good value. Pleasure is necessary! However, we can reduce our negative habits by transforming them into something positive. For example, if I were to watch Friends, I may also watch an episode of ‘Pandemic’, an educational documentary. While scrolling through cake/chocolate/candy-themed videos on Facebook, I try to watch the short BBC and Economist videos. But, all in all, keep the good stuff in life! The minimalist mindset is about eliminating the negative and a half-hour of comedy every day probably does more good than harm.

To help you out, I’ll summarise some of the things I found helpful (or not) although I’m still learning and improving.

Starter Steps towards Implementing a Minimalist Mindset:

  1. Plan your day!

This can be a to-do list on a post-it or a fully-fledged Excel document. I use Wunderlist and Notion which are so easy to use. Maybe make a rule for yourself to remember to plan?. In order to have your saviour morning cup of coffee, you have to create a plan. You’ll remember this by placing your diary next to the coffee jar.

2. The Zen Rule

In order to be truly effective, you should have a sustainable way of finding refuge from the chaos life throws at you. These are some of the things that I’ve done:

  • Self-reflection
  • Meditation
  • Having a gratitude journal
  • Writing a note to a loved one
  • Listening to music to be completely in the now

Productivity can only come through when it’s paired with a calm, assured mentality.

3. Read self-help books

There’s lots of strong opinions around self-help books, life advice, and that sort of thing. Many think that no one has the right to tell you what to do with your life and I agree! However, these are suggestions and why repeat the mistakes others have made when you have the resources to help you achieve success without those same failures? Many of these books are inspiring and are reminders for us to push ourselves and become better people. Many of us don’t have this sort of mindset naturally so these books help guide us towards having the mindsets we want. Discard advice you think isn’t great, take aboard those you do and modify any along the way to craft your unique set of beliefs.

Here are a few which will inspire you:

  • Awaken the Giant Within — Anthony Robbins
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Stephen Covey
  • The Courage to be Disliked — Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi
  • The Monk who sold his Ferrari — Robin Sharma

Or if you’re too busy to read, invest in Audible to listen to these audiobooks during a commute or read summaries of these books on the wonderful Blinkist.

That’s the end of the blogpost. I really enjoyed creating this piece and hopefully, the writing quality isn’t too shabby. Hope this counts as the value and productivity in your day! But if it doesn’t, I’m okay with this being a guilt-free pleasure 😉


The Minimalist Mindset was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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