Monday, 23 December 2013

Simplicity and Consideration, OR.... Me, Myself, and I.

Simplicity and consideration, OR..... Me, Myself and I.  What type of person are you, do you live a simple and considerate life, OR DO YOU LIVE ONLY FOR YOURSELF.  It seems the Moura state school has the right idea and actively encourage their students to be considerate, in fact they have a whole collection of "behaviour/attitude" prompt cards at their school all with the underlying theme of harmonious living with others.  Isn't it funny how we teach these values to our children but as adults many seem to ignore them.  Minimalist living is not about living for yourself, particularly when you are in a relationship, have children, or both.  Minimalist living should benefit all, or as Spock said (Star Trek), "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one".  Minimalism can have immeasurable benefits for the family unit but it can be equally incongruous and destructive if it is based on the needs/wants of just one person within that unit.  This is where consideration for others and open honest communication are essential.  When you are part of a collective you have to be unremittingly mindful of the ramifications of every action/decision you make.  It is even more crucial to remember this if you make the aforementioned decisions without talking them through with every member of your family.  Yes, every member... Including the children...  This is basic, very simple 101 stuff people, the world revolves around more people than just YOURSELF!!
I can't reiterate enough the importance of making sure that your goals are collective ones, and not just individual ones.  MOST people make simple considerations every day, minimalists or not... When you put on the television you check if all watching have a programme choice and you would not monopolise the same shows night after night knowing someone really does not like them, when cooking tea you would not cook something you know one of your family really does not like.  Would you buy your wife roses knowing she is allergic to them, would you throw, sell, or give away possessions without first checking with the rest of the family?  Most people understand the concept of consideration for others, its pretty bloody simple really....
If you like to share your experiences of minimalism (or anything for that matter) via electronic social media platforms would you post things about your life/family without first knowing all involved were happy for you to do so.  I know someone whose wife decided minimalism was the road for HER.  She didn't consider the impact it could have on her husband, she didn't consider he was not happy with the purging of possessions, or that the posts she made online about HER journey were to some degree revealing more about their family than her husband was happy for people to know.  When you are married your actions can without doubt have an impact on your family, even if you don't see it.  If you have not communicated and discussed all you are doing then you are doing it for yourself alone and that is not minimalism.  The lady I am talking about has OCD issues both with food and compulsive shopping.  She will eat, diet, eat, diet, buy, give away, buy, give away, cycling through being happy and positive when on a purge then and depressive and moody when binging.  Fluctuating body weight add to her self esteem issues making it even more complicated and emotionally traumatic for her, sadly her negative moods are usually directed towards her husband alone.  Minimalism and the blog she writes seem to be for her a way of compartmentalising her issues, putting them out there for the world to see and giving people advice on the issues that she has not yet got anywhere near under control herself.  Minimalism is a life style, it will not cure OCD or other mental health issues.  Standing on the outside looking in it is my opinion that minimalism and blogging have become just another OCD area of her life.  There has been no real change, the up and down diet / binge eating continue and the tossing / buying continue in one form or another.  Unfortunately the up and down depressive moods which run parallel with the OCD cycle she seems to follow also continue to impact her spouse greatly.  You wont fix a heart attack with a band-aid and some issues need more than just a life style change to see results, often change must be made before embarking on a lifestyle like minimalism otherwise you run the risk of adversely impacting others.   In this case minimalism can become just another OCD activity without communicated or agreed boundaries that suit the rest of the family. 
If you keep shopping, but change your store from Myer to ebay or from the opp shop to FREECYCLE, you are still shopping.  Just because its free does not mean you need to have it.  I believe minimalists should have possessions, I have no problem with that at all, just keep them to essential items that all the family can see are worth having, things that serve you not the other way around.  Don't "love" your possessions see them for what they are and be thrifty/sensible when acquiring them.  We have a TV at our house, we often have a great time watching a show together or enjoying the education experience of a good documentary.  We don't however need a 60 inch plasma rocket ship TV that cooks your tea and brushes your teeth for you.  After all if you reduce household spending by thousands of dollars, have no debt and have a growing bank balance (things minimalism can help you achieve) what good is any of it if it just sits where it is and does not get used for a worthy purpose.  A lot of people die with very full bank accounts, hell what a waste.  What good is all your free time if you spend it on the internet, posting blogs, on twitter, putting up "eye candy" pictures on pintrest, that is just as OCD as the issues you are trying to resolve to begin with and with social media platforms growing every day where does it all stop!! Use the rewards you gain from minimalistic living to benefit your family, friends and greater community.... Don't be a Scrooge that still has the first dollar he earned.
The money you save and the free time you gain should be redirected back into your family but governed by the set of life rules you have collectively ratified as a family.  The husband of the person I refer to has two tiny cupboards in their bedroom for his modest and small amount of cloths, his wife has filled an entire walk in wardrobe with enough space to hang cloths for the entire family, but more often than not the door can't even be opened because its packed from floor to ceiling with OCD acquired "stuff".  The sad part is most of these possessions end up being given away or sold without even the original labels having ever been removed, all the while she blogs about not spending and writes about healthy eating and so on.  People, if you are going to do something don't be charlatans, many a lie have I seen posted on that blog,  an example was posting about the purchase of a new washing and how it was not purchased using any form of credit.... well her hubby showed me the Harvey Norman credit card purchase details for the washing machine.... If you do things like this you fool two people, those that can't know better and YOURSELF...
This Christmas / New Year is a great time to reflect on your life, what you have and where it is going.  You can continue to live as always if you want or you can stop looking at yourself and consider those around you.  Minimalism can help you do this, but first it might be time to get some skeletons out of the closet... It all comes down to choices and values.  Remember the greatest people in history, those who made real change and will be remembered have always been people that considered the needs of others before their own!!
During his life Nelson Mandela made freedom and consideration for others his goal.  He achieved more for South Africa than anyone before him and paved the road for others to continue his good works.  Need I say more!!!

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