Minimalism

It’s only recently that I’ve discovered the minimalist lifestyle. I’m still far from calling myself a minimalist, but I’m slowly trying to get there. You may ask, why this lifestyle? I have one answer – I want to focus on the important things in life. The ones that make me feel like life is good.  These past few years, I have gone through depression. I go through my day without any motivation, no specific goals, and I’ve just lost track of what I really want in life.  I thought I was keeping myself busy, but I was just keeping myself distracted.  My salary went into buying things I didn’t end up using as much. I was going with the flow – and I was not being deliberate with my decisions.

Minimalism is not just about the material things. To me, it’s almost spiritual even. It’s about getting rid of the things that don’t add value to your life. Mute out the distractions. Be deliberate – asking yourself the question “do I need this in my life, will it bring value to my life?” before making any decisions. And this can mean different things to different people.

Getting rid of clutter

 

Still too much things!

I’ve started by getting rid of the clutter in my house. There are things I feel attached to, but I’m not really using them (DSLR, PS Vita, Japanese CD Collection). I am working up the courage to let go of those. I have cut my wardrobe into half by donating all the clothes that don’t fit me anymore. My books have all been shipped to my hometown. They’re going to a small library my mother wants to put up in the province. Desks and shelves invite more clutter so I’ve gotten rid of some of those.  And I’m not yet done – I will continue to go through all of the things in the house and assess the value they bring into my life.

Downgrading

 

Downgraded my postpaid plan!

I’ve also started cutting down my fixed expenses. I went from an unlimited broadband plan that costs 4,000 PHP each month, to one that’s less than half of that. I’ve also downgraded my mobile phone postpaid plan with unlimited internet, to an 8GB a month plan. Just from these two, I’ve saved myself around 3,000 pesos a month. I have other subscriptions I’m considering for downgrade or cancellation (I don’t watch Crunchyroll and Netflix enough), but I haven’t decided yet.

Upgrading

 

Eliminating and downgrading don’t just save me money, it’s progress towards living life more. With limited wardrobe, I don’t have to waste too much time thinking about what to wear. I come home to a clean and more relaxing home – and that helps keep the stress outside the door.  With my limited data plans, it forces me to not be too dependent on the Internet. Now, I have to turn my mobile data off by default, so that I don’t exceed my plan – and that prevents me from checking social media every single minute. That saves me time to do other things, or focus on the people I’m actually with!

Missing Japan! Photo by Hannah Regencia

The net outcome of all of these efforts is an upgrade in life value. And that’s really what I’m looking for at this point in my life. I don’t feel the need or the want to live life based on other people’s perception of success, or value. Success is no longer about owning a nice car, or a big house, or designer clothes and accessories.  Success to me looks more like being able to spend meaningful time with family and friends, being able to travel to Japan (and other countries/places) as much as I want, and doing things that contribute to the betterment of the world. I’m also still working towards that, but that makes me want to work even harder because these are the things I want in my life. I only realized all of these when I started getting rid of distractions.

Resources

If you are interested in the minimalist lifestyle, you can check out these resources as a start and make your way from there:

My Own Tiny House

I’ve seen these Tiny Houses before on cable TV, but that was prior to my interest in living a life of minimalism. A lot of my friends have already bought their own condominium units, built their houses in the suburbs – and here I am, still renting a two-bedroom apartment with my brother. My future is still blurry as it is – I don’t know where I’ll be in the next few years – but I’ve been giving this a thought recently: I want to build my own Tiny House.

The Tiny House movement is gaining popularity worldwide, mostly driven by people who want to live a minimalist life. Minimalism is really changing the way we view a successful life – that it’s not always based on money or the material things we own.  Instead, it’s about being able to free up our life from distractions and focus our attention on the things that really matter. Living in a tiny house has a lot of advantages – but these are the top reasons why I want to live in one:

  1. Less space, more focused way of living. Everything in your tiny house will be useful to you. There is no room for things that do not add value to your life so you think twice about buying things you don’t really need. It’s a lot easier to clean and maintain. And, there are a lot of creative ways now to maximize space in such a way that you won’t feel restricted despite living in such a limited area.
  2. It costs less than a normal house. In the Philippines, you can probably build one for as low as 200,000 PHP (4,000 USD) if you want to really scrimp on it. Of course, you can shell out a bit more money for something more comfortable or in tune with your aesthetics, but it will still be a lot cheaper than a normal house, or a condominium unit. And, I’m not just talking upfront costs, even costs for utilities will be driven down with the level of usage you need in a tiny home.
  3. Lower footprint, environment-friendly.  You don’t need much to power a tiny house. You can install solar panels for the lights and for small appliances. You don’t need a lot of air conditioning to keep it cool (or warm if you live in colder areas). By creating a tiny house, you can have extra space for a bigger garden and really care for it as it will form part of your living area.

I’m not here to convince you to live in one – but after you check out these videos, I’m sure you’ll give it a thought!

This off-grid cabin in the mountains will be my inspiration for my future house in Dalaguete. My mom has a nice piece of land that’s surrounded by trees, just like the one in the video. I loved that this house operates only on solar energy, so you don’t need to pay for electricity.

I loved the big glass window on this one, as well as the rooftop area where you can chill when it’s not too sunny. The living area in this house is also quite spacious, and that bedroom in the loft looks very comfortable.

For urban living, this design is perfect – if I do decide to get my own place in Manila, it would probably look a lot like this. It has to be a bit more comfortable and convenient compared the previous 2 tiny houses above, because I’d probably be coming home stressed after a long day at work (and traffic) and I want to be able to laze around easily.

This tiny house is a bit bigger than the others, but this is perfect for living in the city, and even for a small family. I liked the climbing wall and how they kept away the TV tucked in a corner, away from the living room!

With Tiny Houses, what’s important is that you can really customize it to fit your personality, and how you really want to live your everyday. This last video below is one that I’m really super amazed at – it’s the tiniest tiny house I’ve seen so far. This probably wouldn’t work in the Philippine setting (this one’s in Japan), but the artistry and creativity behind this tiny house just blows my mind.

What do you think about Tiny House living? Let me know in the comments below!

How to not lose friends on Social Media

Your social media account is your own space – I agree to that. But just like your life is yours to live how you want, you still need to consider the impact of your own action to the people around you. If I don’t believe in deodorants as a person, I would still think twice about imposing my body odor on my friends and colleagues at work (just an example).  Compromise is the secret to harmonious living.

Unfollow or Unfriend?

Here are the top 3 things people do that turn me off and make me want to click that “Unfollow” button:

  • Too much politics. Hey, if you’re so concerned about how the country is run, please run for office, or work for the government. Do something that actually helps – posting your agreement or disagreement on FB every single day, reacting to every single thing the government does – may help you relieve yourself of stress or disappointment, but you’re just passing that on to your followers. It’s a vicious cycle that never ends, especially when you’re posting not to educate, but to prove a point (or to prove that those who disagree with you are wrong). There’s no right or wrong in politics, we will always favor what is convenient to us. Period!
  • Look at me, I’m living the good life. Before you post anything – ask yourself why you need to post it. If it’s to share your happiness, or document a memory, go ahead. But if it’s just for show – to show people you are living a good life, you don’t really need to do that. What sets the truly rich from those who want to be called rich is that need for attention and validation. If you really, really want to show off – at least make that photo creative, or use a caption that doesn’t talk about you or what you’re doing.
  • Wittybunny, unwitty you. I’ve talked about this on Facebook before. While it may seem like harmless fun, using services such as Wittybunny collects information about you AND your friends. You may be fine with that, but are your friends OK with having their information taken? Wonder why the results seem so accurate? It’s not really that difficult to analyze based on your previous posts and activities. Read the privacy policy carefully before you allow any third-party application to access your Facebook information. A lot of them do not have security measures as strong as Facebook itself.

Again, these are just my opinion. I can’t say I haven’t done any of these. I’m not trying to be preachy.  It’s your account and you’re free to do whatever you want with it. The worst thing that can happen is that someone who doesn’t like what you’re posting will unfollow/unfriend you. It doesn’t mean you will become enemies in real life. Social media is a respite for most of us who are dealing with stress in real life. When social media adds up to that stress, I click unfollow!

What about you?

Day 13: Sweaty Hands & Feet

I shoot water from my palms

I’m sitting on my desk, typing at my computer, the air conditioning blowing cold air straight at me – but my hands and feet are still sweating like crazy.

  • As a student, I hated writing because my paper or notebook always ends up soaking wet. I had to insert another sheet of paper, or a handkerchief, in between my hand and the paper.
  • Until now, I can’t wear slippers/slip-ons because my feet sweat so fast, and combining that with the city’s dust – I almost always end up with “muddy” feet. It doesn’t look good, and I can’t walk because it’s too slippery.
  • My laptop keyboards are always oily. Its letters and numbers, faded. When they stopped working, the IT guy asked me if I spilled any form of liquid on them. Yeah, my sweat.
  • Ever tried using a smartphone with sweaty hands?
  • Our carpet smells by the day because of its daily treatment of sweat.
  • Ever tried holding hands with sweaty hands?
  • The floor where my feet are resting right now, looks like a dog peed in there
  • My eyeglasses are full of smudges from my fingers
  • I visit the restroom every 30 minutes to wash off the sweat on my feet
  • I can’t open a bottle or jar because my hands would just slide off the cap

Apparently, there are ways to treat this condition (called Hyperhidrosis). I’ve never really thought of this as something that needed to be cured. It was just there and I learned to live with it. Maybe it’s time to try out some of these treatments. I will let you know if they work!