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!

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to me!

Last week, I turned another year older. At this point, age is really becoming just a number. Deep in my mind and my heart, I don’t feel like I’ve grown up much. Although I can’t deny the following signs of aging:

  • I can’t drink as much as I used to, or my body takes an entire day to recover from a hangover
  • I don’t let the little things stress me out
  • People with too much energy annoy me
  • I prefer staying at home, and I prefer sleeping over any other form of activity

Other than these, I’m basically still the same. I am still immature, I still don’t have any concrete goals in life – at least none that I am adamantly working towards achieving. At this age, I would have expected myself to be more stable, more fulfilled – but I’m very far from that. My mind wanders at night, thinking about what my priorities should be, or what my goals should be. I’m not getting any younger after all.  While most of my friends have gone off and pursued their life’s goals, I remain stuck where I was 10 years ago!

I’m taking my time to figure out what I want to do with my life. But I’m more consciously thinking about it this time, as opposed to just really going with the flow. At the top of my head, I know I want to at least become a better version of myself. In the near future, I want to be able to live a life that’s more focused on the important things, the things I really value. I have to get rid of this chronic laziness that has paralyzed me over the past decade. This chapter of my life has been running for ten years already, and I feel that it’s time to start a new one. I don’t know what that means yet, but I have to take some drastic steps to get there.

In terms of this blog, I have decided to make it simpler by eliminating the “categories” I created. The goal was to force myself to write more, but I felt boxed and limited, writing about things I didn’t really feel like talking about. This was the reason why I haven’t been writing for over a month – there was no motivation, just pressure.

I’ll share more things about my plans, my immediate goals, among other things in the next posts. Birthdays signify a new start, and I will make this year better than the past 10 years combined!