Thursday, 11 July 2013

Minimalism, Once You Are Free Then What ?

Make The World A Better Place One Person At A Time

Recently I decided it was time to take a critical look at some of my undertakings.  After delving into just about every aspect of my life I decided that there were some things in need of a little tweaking if they were to conform with my current views as a minimalist.  After making slight modifications to several of my pursuits I was feeling pretty good about where I was at, but then I happened upon an Internet article about success and failure.  The basic premise of the article, although greatly paraphrased, was that modern society has undergone a paradigm shift and the way we currently view "success" has changed considerably.  Further, the article suggests that people increasingly feel like a failure in life because our definition of success has become less about unselfish personal goals and more about keeping up with our peers.  Our yardstick for measuring success now seems to involve a much greater need for external validation, without this validation we don't see ourselves as successful.  This article really got me thinking....

People need to feel wanted, we need it from our spouses, our family, friends and peers. Some need it more than others, but as a general rule people have an innate yearning for some level of personal confirmation. Much of what we do in life is driven by this desire, if you examine the motivation behind many of your actions you will begin to recognise a pattern. I believe our desire for personal validation has become so intertwined with modern consumer mindsets that most believe success is simply a measure of what we have in life, bigger houses, better cars mean we must be successful. The greater the external sources we have around us to endorse this believe the stronger it becomes and the more we associate "success" with the corroboative opinions of others.  We seek this type of external substantiation daily on a subconscious level often being unaware we are doing so. Why did you pick those special jeans, those boots, that hair style, that car, house, boat, caravan.... getting the picture? Why did you work so hard to get the 6 figure job, that promotion with the better office and the great view.... why, why, why? Can you see that little validation monster insidiously lurking behind your every decision?

People are gregarious companionable creatures, we enjoy the company of others. Positive feelings of self worth are derived from the opinions and views that other people have of us. The risk here is that when we place a disproportionate importance on these opinions we are essentially allowing others to authenticate "success" for us through their eyes not our own. Of course not everything we do in life is driven by the need for external (or internal) validation, but more often than not our decisions gain weight, in one direction or another, based on the potential for this to happen.  As a young man my choice of cars was always determined by what my mates would think of my new wheels, obviously to that end a V8 with wide tyres and a screaming exhaust became my vehicle of choice.  When driving my hot V8 I felt successful, and the opinions of my mates gave me the reinforcement to believe this was so.... Ah how simple was life, but then I grew a conscience.

"Whatever your striving for validation looks like, you are not alone. Renowned social psychology researcher Albert Bandura showed that we’re constantly comparing ourselves against others and making decisions accordingly.....

But we’re no longer trying simply to survive. The luxury and curse of our era is that we can do virtually anything we want with our lives.

And in this world of possibility, you are leaving your greatest potential unfulfilled by letting others define what success means for you.

Simply recognize that the more conscious and deliberate you can be about what success means for YOU, the more empowered you will be to pursue the path that’s true for you." - Taylor Jacobson

 Success in it's self will have a different definition from person to person and it is our individual right to decide exactly what we call success and therefore the accomplishments we seek to achieve.  For me, this is where the rubber really hits the road.  When was the last time you evaluated your "success" in life?  When did you last ask yourself the question "what does success really mean to me" ?

After looking at my personal definition of success I thought I was doing OK, I am ticking many of the boxes I had sought to tick, my life, along with my family, are moving in a positive direction all due to the concept of minimalism.  Then this article got me thinking again, on a world wide scale I am actually pretty unsuccessful.  I might be successful living my life as a minimalist, stress and worry are at an all time low, my finances are good, debt non-existent, but this success is based on my own life plan and goals as a minimalist, how can I sit back and enjoy my new found freedom while so many others are suffering. 

My broader view of success is definitely still a work in progress, it was only recently that I began to see a bigger world wide picture, and how I should work that into my overall life plan.  It's very easy, once you have found the freedom that minimalism can give, to then rest comfortably on your laurels, but this is not what minimalism is meant to be.  Once your life is clear of all the junk consider the bigger picture and how you might seek to leave your mark on the world.

This post is not about suggesting anything specific, that's for you to decide, this post is simply about remembering when all is said and done there are still people around us everywhere that need our help.  Never be too busy that you can't show love or give a helping hand.  At the end of the article I noticed a comment from a reader, they summed the article by quoting a passage from Emerson, I would like to do the same. 
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded." - Emerson

 Only when we work TOGETHER can we realise our potential as a united people hand in hand, can we answer the call "PLEASE HELP", can we fill the outstretched HANDS of those without food, only then can we stop the TEARS of those who need us the most.

~~~ Brett Tulk ~~~

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