Author Topic: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism  (Read 8329 times)

mgriffin

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Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« on: November 05, 2009, 02:39:21 PM »
Lena and I talk more and more about simplifying our lifestyle, reducing our consumption, and gradually moving to a smaller place with less clutter and less "stuff."  As part of a gradual move toward this end, I've been getting rid of things I no longer use, and contemplating what really would be involved in moving to a place half the size of our current place, or even smaller.

From time to time I browse various minimalist lifestyle blogs, and I happened across this rather amazing YouTube video featuring a guy who develops, and himself lives in, extremely small houses.



Obviously this is an extreme I wouldn't be willing to go to any time soon -- my recording studio alone is twice the size of this guy's house -- but it's interesting to see how much LESS a person can get by with if they're determined to simplify.  I post this not to ask "would you live in a 96 square foot house?" but merely include the video as a sort of curiosity, to kick off a discussion of the idea of living in a smaller, simpler place.

I wonder if others here have thought about downsizing, simplifying, or embracing an attitude of "less is more," especially at this time when economic trouble has made many people unsure about their own financial future.  Our current house is more than twice the size of my last house, and one thing I didn't really think about in advance was not only is the mortgage payment higher, but the property taxes, insurance, and utilities are all much higher as well.  When I add all these things together it comes to a rather ridiculous total, one that is hard to justify, and which makes me contemplate a different approach the next time we choose a place to live.

Anybody else thinking similar thoughts?

[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

sraymar

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2009, 05:38:45 PM »
This is the story of my life. Less is more is my mantra, its ingrained. No G.A.S. problems for me. Near my apartment is a train bridge and a guy has been living under it for a couple of years now, can't get anymore minimal than that.

Steve

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mgriffin

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2009, 05:43:37 PM »
Well, I've been poor (though not as poor as living under a bridge), and poverty isn't voluntarily simplicity!  Not much fun, either.

But if I look back over my life, the easiest and most comfortable lifestyles were always very simple, like when I was a student and had few enough possessions that everything could fit in a car.  Things are a bit more complicated now, especially with a home-based business, but that doesn't mean we need so much clutter and so much junk to worry about.
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sraymar

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2009, 09:49:22 PM »
Somebody helped me out with some clutter I had a couple years back by breaking into my car and stealing a camera, tripod, telescope, watch, and a small duffle bag with some clothes in it. The thing is I hadn't used that stuff for quite awhile. Its funny how things can workout sometimes. Use it or lose it.

Acquiring more stuff is really enlarging our ego and sometimes it gets trimmed one way or another.
Ambient isn't just for technicians!

The artist isn't a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.

Don't be afraid to grow, give yourself a chance.

jkn

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2009, 08:15:33 AM »
My wife and I are both "collectors" - we like to collect things... different things pique our curiousity - but I'd say we both do it.    About 6 years ago we started purging... little bits at first - then larger bits...  going through boxes from years and years ago.   Every year we downsize our "stuff" a little more - and we both fight the urge to collect for collection sake (not that we're hyper crazy or could be featured on any "super collector" type tv shows... and my album collection while amazingly stupidly large - pales in comparison to a lot of folks here on the forum I've learned over the years... ;-)

Anyway - yeah - we've been living a bit of a more simple lifestyle for a while.  We also started composting in the very early 90's and have recycled since about the mid 90's.   We do little things.

We've lived in the same house for 19 years... it's 880 square feet + an unfinished basement that's maybe 3/4 of the upstairs (it gets water in major rains... no point in "finishing" the space)...   so when we collect too much... well - we can't move!   However, we did have too much stuff -and reducing has helped our sanity.

Also - we're just getting older now... perspectives change. 

I'll admit - I'm still addicted to DVD's - and while I've cut back massively - I still buy tv shows.   Yeah - I'm weird.

As far as my studio goes - I've rarely had strong GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) issues - I've built up the really nice collection of gear over the last 24 years...   and rarely if ever get rid of anything.  I love having gear that's been with me a long time that I know and love.
John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

Wayne Higgins

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2009, 12:40:14 PM »
I'm in a modest little 1600 sq ft brick house on 5 acres.  3 people, 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 goats.

I had nothing long ago, and I mean NOTHING.  Not really aiming to ever go back.
So, I'm a "Sr Member", huh?  In June it's SENIOR DISCOUNT TIME!!!
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APK

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2009, 02:18:32 PM »
After my student tenting days I moved into a large ranch up here in Canada Land where we have three different swimming pools (to suit particular moods), large collections of life-like igneous rock formations, stuffed bipedal mammals, and Pressed-Rat's collection of dog legs and feet. I find that if you have a place large enough even the most grandiose collections simply fit into its nooks and crannies ... so no need to scale back.
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hdibrell

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2009, 04:08:25 PM »
This has been on my mind for quite some time now. I have been wanting to simplify our lives and our possessions. My wife and I are both packrats. We have completely filled our house and garage. I recently had to clear out my mother's house as she moved into a retirement community. It was amazing what all she had in a 2400 sq. foot house. I don't think even she knew what all she had. It has gotten me motivated to lean and clean out our stuff. In early October, Kathy and I spent a week in my brother's cabin in the mountains in far northwest North Carolina. Spending time in that rather small space made me realize that I could live very well in a smaller space. I hope to work toward that goal in the coming year.      Harry
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mgriffin

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2009, 04:24:17 PM »
The biggest motivator to make this change was my involvement in cleaning up after two deceased relatives in the past few years. 

One of them had a tidy house, orderly financial records, and a reasonable amount of furniture, clothing and other "stuff."  Even though he owned two homes and five cars (mostly vintage collectibles) and a motorcycle, he had a place for everything, no clutter, and sorting out his estate wasn't bad at all.

The other seemed to have never thrown everything away.  He had a house full of old phone books, old junk mail and newspapers, broken appliances, old dishes and silverware that hadn't been used in decades, and so on.  When his lawn mower broke, he bought a new one, and kept the old one in the shed.  When the second one broke, he put it in the shed with the first one, and bought another.  This same philosophy applied not only to lawn mowers, but fishing gear, car parts, guns, and all kinds of other stuff.  He lived surrounded by things he never used, and when he died he left behind mountains of trash.  I filled half a dumpster with long-expired canned foods he had packed into a huge pantry and forgotten about, and an equal quantity of ancient, dusty half-consumed bottles of cheap liquor.  The whole pack rat thing can become really nasty when you let it get out of control, and past a certain point it's pretty hard to dig yourself out from it.

I've certainly never gotten to that point but the whole idea of accumulation of "stuff" has started to bug me, and I can see how much easier and simpler life could be with a reduction in possessions, and a smaller place to live (which is then not only cheaper, but easier to take care of).
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions

drkappa

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2009, 02:58:31 PM »
As a self-confessed hoarder, it's very hard for me to throw things away.
As I only have small semi, I do occasionally have clearouts, but it's become
an exercise using the limited space efficiently.  I have wondered about ripping
some of my c.1100 CDs and 200 LPs.  Instead of removing the clutter (& often
character IMHO) so often mentioned in TV lifestyle shows, I dream of buying a
larger detached property with more wall space for art and books.  I guess it
would have to be outside the crowded UK, where house prices are crazy even
after a recent slump.  Any of you `downsizers' care to swap? :)

It's certainly possible to live with a lot less stuff in a small space, as I recall
from my student days.  It's just not as comfortable and enjoyable.  At the
time my mind was focused on matters scientific.  Having a single room
somewhere to eat, sleep, play a little music or watch TV, but not really live.

It's been even harder to deal with my mother's belongings now she's in
a care home.  How do you become ruthless?  At least she asked me in recent
years to look after her financial and other papers.  Another stressful part has
been trying to get financial organisations and utilities to redirect
correspondence to me even when I have power of attorney.
Malcolm Currie
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Seren

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2009, 01:14:52 PM »
There was a period of time when I was squatting. It was a life choice and I downsized before hand - gave away all my music gear including Roland System 101, 102 and sequencer modules plus teac portastudio, amp, mics, echo unit, other sundry music equipment, what felt like miles of cables and my hifi and record collection.

Having to move every three months really focussed the mind and posessions - lived with a bicycle, rucksack and single suitcase.

We always did the places up, so left them in better state than when we got in. I even gained entry back into one place as it had been taken over by the sort that crap in saucepans and I cleaned it up before the council got back in, left a note for them explaining that we did not all live like that.

Recently had to downsize as we needed to move to a smaller house, but definitely not about to give everything away again.


petekelly

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2009, 02:56:41 AM »
I live a relatively simple life by most people's standards here in the UK, but a hugely
'consumerist' life compared a lot of people in the world.

I believe that stuff is there to be used and I try to work 'lean', I've gotten rid of quite a bit of
audio equipment that I don't use in the past few years. I've known people with loads of musical
equipment languishing in an unused studio and I don't see the point of that.

Having the time (and making time) to make music is far more precious than having 10 guitars.

cheers
Pete

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2009, 10:41:45 AM »
I have this approach, somewhat. I do like 'stuff' if it's a daily basis aid, or if it's something that I have to 'see' often that is my direct contact (i.e. Paintings).

But I don't see the point of filling up my cellar, for example. I'd rather give it away (which I did recently to the Red Cross) or selling it.

Same thing with music, which is a big expense for me (or investment, rather!). I do screen my collection now and then to sell off CDs that doesn't hold any qualities that I am looking for.

mgriffin

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Re: Voluntary simplicity, or lifestyle minimalism
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2009, 10:50:25 AM »
Making these changes involuntarily, like following a financial setback like unemployment, is one thing.  Deciding to reduce overhead and expenditures when you're actually making as much money as you ever were, and when you still have a big enough house to hold everything, is surprisingly tough.

I look at a rack of synthesizers, and think "a third of those I may never use again, but it will be more trouble to sell them than to just let them sit there."  And that trouble, or the expenditure of time upon which I already have many demands, makes it much easier to just say "maybe someday."

It really takes a focused effort of will to clear out a lot of stuff.  One thing I've decided is that many of the things I need to get rid of are not re-sellable for any amount of money worth bothering with, and I'll have to get into a habit of donating more stuff to charity.  I have so many books and CDs and DVDs, and assorted clothing, that aren't junk but just can't be resold.  Ebay and Amazon Marketplace have reduced the resale price of various used items down to literally a penny, which isn't worth bothering with.  Better to donate it, and take the tax deduction.
[ Mike Griffin, Hypnos Recordings ] email mg (at) hypnos.com | http://hypnos.com | http://twitter.com/mgsoundvisions