Minimalism

Ever since we are little the idea of more being better is instilled in our brains. The more toys or gadgets you have the happier you would feel, the more you speak the smarter you would sound, the higher grades you get the better, the more money you earn the more successful you are.

As time passes by, I have come to realize that this is not true. When I was in school, my father urged me and my siblings to buy few but good clothes and it made sense, but I only thought it applied only to clothing.

It wasn't until I moved I realized that I have tons of useless things lying around. Things I though I might need one day kept safely in storage, belonging that I thought were memorable stored safely in my drawers. I spent a long time sorting through all these things, I threw away many, gave away some, and packed "important" items into a few boxes. The idea was that after spending two years abroad and I would return back. It made sense.

It has been 6 and a half years, I haven't seen those boxes again. The only important thing that I can remember they had were my Taekwondo medals. I don't know whether those boxes are still stored safely but when I visit Pakitan next time I might try to retrieve my medals.

I also had Rs. 2000 deposited in a bank account when I was little, 15 years ago it was a lot of money. I could have bought a really expensive toy with it, but everyone know's you need to save and a bank account is the perfect place to store money. Now 15 years later that money is worthless, partly because of inflation, partly because its easy for me to get that much money now. For those who don't have the context, earnings from interest are not allowed in Islam, but I bet even after interest, that money won't be worth anywhere close to what it was worth to me back then. The idea was by saving I would have more but it didn't work out.

I'm not saying that you should not plan long term, the thing these days is, there is so much new items and the context changes so fast, the old items lose their use for people very quickly because theres going to be a new thing that you are obsessed with. At university I kept the engineering books I liked, I thought I might use them when I go to grad school or might need to review some concepts at work, it would be faster to do those through books I am used to already. I was so wrong. After finishing my undergraduate studies, I decided to completely change the direction of my career. Even if I had needed these books, I could have easily found something similar at a good library.

I moved again a few times, each time getting rid of things, but only because I had to, not because I was trying to be minimal.

Recently, a I have seen many examples of things that are great but are minimal. Books that are concise, web layouts that only have the basics, companies that barely have the manpower they need. This is starting to shatter my idea of more is better.

I thought selling old used items was a waste, because if you buy them again, you'd have to pay more. It doesn't work out financiallly. But there is a cost associated with owing things. You need phyical space, you use a lot of mental capacity of thinking about what I own and where is it, its harder to find what you do need. It might not be that bad if you want to live at one home throughout your life, but thats not the case for most these days, it can be pretty costly to move belonging, I feel its the best to not become too attached to too many of them.

Old unused items are like dead code in software, you have it written down somewhere, but it doesnt do anything. It just makes your program hard to understand and makes pieces of code you are looking for hard to find.

Now instead of thinking if I would ever need this item again, I think can I live without this? And if I discard this what is the cost of getting something with the same value again? This is important. If you cannot get something anywhere else for example pictures of you from childhood, the cost is high(or even infinite) if its a book you can order from Amazon or read at you local library, the cost is low. The other thing to consider is if there is a close substitute available. For example your new cell phone does the same things as your old phone and more, you do not gain anything extra just by keeping it, so you should sell your old phone. But if you do not have any pictures of your early childhood, you would really value the one if its the only one remaining.

Instead of cherishing belongings, I have learned to cherish experiences. I want to own the minimum number of things I can live with.

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