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Consumption is a Statement

Minimalism and capitalism are philosophies that seem like they should be at odds with each other. But in reality, capitalism improves if the tenets of minimalism are applied.

Minimalism is not just about owning less, it’s about owning better. It’s about eschewing the superfluous in favor of that which truly brings you value and makes you happy. That means you have more resources left over from the stuff you’re not compulsively buying to invest in higher-quality possessions and experiences. Over time, this leads to a richer economy built atop well-made goods and services.

When consumption ceases to be compulsory, each purchase you make, each dollar you spend, becomes a statement.

The statement you make with each purchase is: “This thing or experience I’m consuming is relevant to my priorities and adds real value to my life. I’m spending my money on this bag because a bag of this kind will increase my level of happiness and will allow me to have more experiences that bring me joy.”

How many of your possessions can you confidently say do the same for you? And if the answer is ‘very few,’ do you think a reassessment of priorities might be in order?

Update: April 14, 2017

This is a facet of minimalism that’s sometimes overlooked, and sometimes used incorrectly.

When it’s overlooked, our perception is that minimalism means you can’t buy things because buying things is wrong.

When it’s misused, our perception is that we have to own certain things to be minimalists, and if we don’t have those things, we’re missing out.

There are interests that benefit from us overlooking and misusing this concept. Which, unfortunately, is one of the negative consequences of capitalism: the incentive to bend valuable ideas to make them less valuable when doing so increases our profits.

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Boxes

When it comes to money, I’m fairly conservative.

That is to say that I don’t throw cash around, and I generally know why I’m earning the money I’m earning. I know my expenses and I know what kind of unexpected expenses to plan for, and as a result, there aren’t too many surprises. My finances are standardized and relatively predictable.

When it comes to food, I’m fairly liberal.

I like trying new things, going to new restaurants, and experiencing flavors from all around the world. There are certainly dishes I prefer over others, but I enjoy incorporating the new into the old, which allows me to expand the range of my palate over time.

To be conservative means that you adhere to traditional attitudes and values on a topic. That you establish a steady foundation and don’t see the need to upset your stability for a payoff that may not be worth the risk.

To be liberal means you are open to novelty and may be willing to discard the old in favor of the new. It means that you’re accepting the risk that some new approach or idea may not work, because you believe the potential payoff is worth it.

Liberalism and conservatism are two words that have been disfigured by politics. Neither is inherently bad or good, and both need the other to be optimal. If I wasn’t monetarily conservative, I wouldn’t be able to afford my culinary liberalism.

Building solid foundations allow us to jump higher, when we choose to jump. If I didn’t know the rules of publishing, I wouldn’t know which rules I can break, how often, and where to apply the necessary torque. There’s value to be found in total chaos, just as there’s value to be found in absolute order, but both are made stronger when paired with the other side.

Try not to let labels own you, your decisions, and your perspectives. Pre-built brands may be easy to wear, and may serve as filler when it comes to topics you haven’t yet thought about for yourself, but they’re still just boxes. Boxes you contort and strain to fit inside.

Update: April 14, 2017

We need some new words to use in politics, because “conservative” and “liberal” are both too valuable to be devalued the way they have.

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Fortunate

I’m fortunate to live in a time where my brand of weird is not just acceptable, but celebrated.

I’m fortunate to have access to tools and resources that allow me to pick up new skills, glean new knowledge, and experience new things at a pace limited only by my level of interest and time invested.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people who’re inspirational and who impress the hell out of me, which makes me want to keep exploring, growing, and becoming an ever-better version of myself.

I’m fortunate to have been born into a wonderful family, in a developed country, and with a collection of attributes that, though imperfect, have allowed me to pursue both happiness and perspective, even when the latter conflicts with the former.

I’m fortunate to have dreams, the desire to make them manifest, and the ability to do so.

I’m fortunate to understand the value of context, and the ability to find and comprehend it when making decisions and judgements.

I’m fortunate to make a living doing work I’m proud of, without feeling anchored to a given career path or industry.

I’m fortunate to have accumulated an audience of amazing people who stoke my drive to learn and share and understand on a greater level every day.

I’m fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had, both negative and positive, and to have benefitted from the lessons latent in each.

I’m fortunate to live in a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, and to thrive under such conditions.

I’m fortunate to be alive, and to be at a point in my life where, should it end prematurely, I can go out with a smile.

I’m a very fortunate guy, and I feel fortunate to be able to recognize that fact.

Update: April 14, 2017

I’m truly a very fortunate person.