Minimalism for the mind: a manifesto for simple living

Minimalism for the mind: a manifesto for simple living

by Dr. Happy (aka Dr. Tim Sharp)

Over the many years I’ve been involved in the world of psychology and self-help or self-development, I’ve seen many interesting trends and fashions – some more valid and helpful than others!

In the last year or so, there’s been strong interest in what’s come to be known as “minimalism”.

What is minimalism? 

Well, although all involved acknowledge that there’s no “one” definition, the many definitions are all relatively similar; and in one way or other the focus is on living with less and/or living only with that which adds value.

According to Becoming Minimalist

It is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality. And as a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.

Along similar lines The Minimalists write that minimalism can assist you in finding freedom…

Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around.

Either way, and although The Minimalists frequently refer to “freedom from fear” and other negative emotions, there’s no doubt that most of the minimalist movement is about reducing “stuff” (material possessions) and only keeping that which adds value to our lives.

And I love this! I’ve personally joined this “movement” and significantly reduced my number of possessions (e.g. cloths and books and gadgets etc) in recent years; and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process, as well as the consequences.

But at the same time, I can’t help but think there might be an even more meaningful way to “minimalise”.

What if we were to extend the process from our external lives to our internal lives? What if we were to minimalise our thoughts and feelings and actions, focusing only on those that “added value”?

Today I set the challenge, to myself and to all who read this, to intentionally promote all those thoughts, feelings and actions that add value to my life (including to the lives of those around me); and to cease or remove all those that detract from my happiness and wellbeing. 

How will I achieve this?

Here are the steps I intend to follow:

  1. I will define what’s most important to me, and focus all my efforts on living my life consistently with these values and priorities.
  2. At the start of every day, I will ask myself “What will I do today to boost my happiness and wellbeing?” as well as “What do I need to stop doing?”
  3. At the end of every day, I will ask myself “What’s worked? and how can I do more of it?” as well as “What can I learn and/or change to do better tomorrow?”
  4. My focus will be on what’s going well, rather than on what’s not going well (including actively promoting those thoughts and beliefs that motivate and inspire me to achieve my goals and to live my best life).
  5. With every thought and feeling and experience, I will ask “Is this adding value to my life?” and “Is this helping me live my best possible life?”
  6. I will review my work and focus only on those activities that add value to my life (rather than just income!); stopping any other activities and saying no to any future opportunities that are literally, not valuable.
  7. I will spend the majority of my time with those people who’re uplifting and inspiring and supportive (without necessarily abandoning those who might be in need)
  8. When I notice unpleasant emotions, I’ll reflect upon what they might be telling me and how I can learn from and become better as a result of what’s going on
  9. Most importantly, when I’m feeling sad or regretful about the past, I’ll focus on the present; and when I’m worrying about the future, I’ll focus on the present. In short, I’ll minimalise my focus by focusing, as often as possible, on the present moment.
  10. Ultimately, I will do only what needs to be done; and I’ll be happy with that, rather than constantly chasing the ever elusive “more” and “better”!

So there we go! I hope you find this helpful. But please note – this “manifesto” is and will always be a work in progress.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, please do so and please feel free to let me know what you think (you can contact me HERE).