Monthly Archives: January 2011

the border of a new generation

In my last post, I talked about what it means to be part of the digital generation.

When I was growing up, I never had much technology, until at least my late teen years. I did all of the ‘childhood things’ – played outside, went to the park, learned to ride a bike. My toy box contained things like dolls, cards, marbles and lego bricks.

My little brother, over a decade younger than me, is growing up with handheld consoles, computer games and internet TV.

the digital revolution

In my opinion, one of the most exciting times to live is on the edge of a revolution – whether it be religious, scientific or any new and radical way of living or thinking. Right now, we’re on the border of the digital generation. I grew up without knowing the what the word ‘gadget’ even meant, and yet today I’m blogging on my laptop connected wirelessly anywhere I go, with my iPhone in my pocket and my Kindle in my bag.

We are the transitioning generation. We are the ones that are on the border, the frontier.

We lived behind the border, and now we’re living after it. We have a bit of both worlds – when I was little, I handwrote my journals, now I type them into the cloud. When I was a teen, I used to listen to CD’s on a stereo player, now I stream music wherever I go. When I was younger, I read paper novels, now I read digital ones.

My little brother never knew the days when handheld consoles only had two colors, or when cell phones were bigger than his head. And I’ll soon forget about those days too.

the minimalist revolution

Now, again, I’ve realized we are in the midst of another revolution – the one of minimalism. Our parents worked long hard hours at the office to get the nice houses we grew up in, or to fund those piano lessons or those expensive clothes we thought we needed to be popular when we were teenagers.

And now, things are changing with us. As much as we are grateful for everything our parents have given us, we realize that that’s exactly all that they have been doing – giving. My parents gave me so so much that I wonder, when did they have time for their own lives?

We are the generation that is changing. We’re not becoming selfish or self-centered, we just don’t want to see the good things that were done for us go to waste in creating another ‘just-ordinary’ life. I honestly don’t want to see my parents set up such a great life for me, so that I could get a good education and so on just for me to become another working zombie.

We’re taking life by the horns and living a life worth living. We’re taking it upon ourselves to help others, not waiting for somebody else to do it.

And soon there will be the next generation. Just like what happened with technology, perhaps in a few decades they won’t know any different. They won’t know that there were so many people that slaved away at jobs they hated, put ‘work’ before others, or that people gave up on their dreams so easily.

The internet and everything it can do seemed impossible just two decades ago. Let’s see what ‘impossible’ things minimalism can bring to the world two decades from now.

Minimalism is building momentum. This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning.

PS. This is Minimal Student’s 100th post! I’m updating the ‘most popular posts’ section, tell me your favorite posts from the past! You can comment here or find me @minimalstudent .

PPS. Sharing is caring!

the digital generation

This is a continuation of a previous blog post: Minimalist Meditations – Technology.

I’m often asked how technology helps minimalists.

My answer is that without technology, there would be very very few minimalists.

My thoughts are stored as words on 750. My most radical ideas are stored as post on this blog. My music and films are stored as files on my hard drive. My memories are stored as photos in the cloud.

All of this information amounts to gigabytes of data that can be stored on something about the size of my hand. Without technology, we would have to sacrifice all of that stuff just so that we’re not weighed down by junky folders, albums, diaries, books and CD/DVD’s.

Does this mean that minimalists are technology?

I know that there are people that are scared of technology. They’re scared that if they convert their lives into digital format, then none of it would be tangible and all would be lost.

But my question is, what is it exactly you are afraid of?

Admittedly, there’s a minuscule chance that you’ll lose some things in the cloud. But which is more likely, every single computer, server, storage unit and hard disk gets destroyed and/or wiped out… or you have a house fire? Or you are robbed? Or you simply lose or forget where you’ve put something? I hope it never happens, but nobody in their right mind would think “Oh my god my diaries are gone, now I have no thoughts or feelings!” or “Oh no, my photo albums are gone, now I have no memories!”

People who are scared are getting mixed up with putting their information online, and putting themselves online. They’re two different things.

I’m not made from the photos I took or things I wrote down, I’m made from what I learned from doing that stuff. My memories aren’t the things that I upload onto the net, they’re stored in my head, those things are just prompts or pieces that we took to remind us of them.

As a traveller, technology is invaluable to me. I need search engines, maps, tips, reviews, recommendations and all of the advantages of digital storage to lighten the load.

We are the digital generation. Never before has so much been available to us. Even just a few decades or even 5000 days ago what we have now would be a dream come true, let’s take advantage of it shall we?

Editor’s note: I found this video by Amber Case circling around after writing this post, it’s a great follow-up to this discussion, check it out!

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

want more?

Check out my Twitter which I now update daily with what I’m up to, minimalist tips and awesome links!

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on minimalist motivations

A question that I often ask myself is why on earth am I leading a minimalist lifestyle? Why don’t I just settle down in a nice town, get my own apartment, a steady job and live like a normal person?

The answer is simple, I don’t want to be normal.

I want to travel. I want to see the world.  I want to go to places people don’t go, meet people that have stories to tell, see things with my own eyes, not from the other side of a TV screen.

I want to grab a backpack, climb mountains, hike through forests, camp under the stars, explore. I want to get on a bike and ride my way across highways, along rivers, through small towns and beside farmland as as far as the eye can see.

On my travels I want to help people who need real help, real action, not just cash thrown at them. I want to make a positive impact on every single soul I meet on the road.

Minimalism is my means of doing that, which is why it’s so important to me. Without it, I can’t do it.

Do you have to travel to have achieved something? Of course not, this is just my dream. You can fulfill your dreams right in your hometown if you want to, the point is that you do it. It sounds simple enough, but you’ll be surprised at how many dreams get pushed aside for mortgages, debt and nice shoes.

when fear is good

I thought my biggest motivation was the want to travel. But now I realize, travel is only the answer to my biggest fear. I’m afraid that I’ll grow old and waste my life. I’m afraid that I’ll look back and wonder why I didn’t do something worthwhile when I had the chance. I’m scared that I’ll miss great opportunities because I followed what people told me to do instead of deciding on my own.

I’m scared that I won’t make a real difference.

Travelling around the world might sound like a fantasy for some people, but to them I say it doesn’t sound possible because they’re too wrapped up in watching reruns on TV from being tired from working too much to fund all of their spending habits.

I’m not living to work or to buy things, I’m living to live. That’s my motivation.

What’s yours?

PS. I just wanted to personally thank everyone who donated, your kindness and support means so much to me! Also, if you still want to contribute, you can do so on the homepage. Thank you again!

want more?

Check out my Twitter which I now update daily with what I’m up to, minimalist tips and awesome links!

the best kind of blog

In response to my decision to write shorter articles and publish more frequently, a reader, Andre commented:

I like the idea of shorter but more frequent articles, because sometimes it’s better to provide some brainfood to think through by yourself.

This got me thinking. What makes a good blog?

Whenever I read a good post, it’s always been one that makes me think more carefully about something. For me, a really memorable article isn’t usually one of those ‘101 ways you can…’ ones I see in magazines etc. that people usually scan through and then forget about. The really good posts are the ones that make me sit back and think “Hm, I never thought of it like that before…”

So what am I trying to do with Minimal Student?

I’m not trying to be a manual. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. Minimal Student is simply a guide to help you along the way. I’m here to give you ideas and get the ball rolling.

Every single one of you is a smart and intelligent person, capable of taking ideas like minimalism seriously. If you took it upon face value only (“throw out all your stuff!”) then you wouldn’t be reading this right now.

It’s up to you to build your own version of minimalism not rely on people telling you what to build. I read many blog posts everyday and now I realize that the best ones are brainfood, not the ones that try to brainwash you.

That’s probably why I had a feeling that I wanted to take the blog in this direction – more frequent and shorter posts, because I want to put the ideas out there and get my point across. If simplicity is the key to everything, then shouldn’t I be applying it to my writing too?

However, just to clarify, the ‘big posts’ aren’t going anywhere. I’m still going to be writing and publishing them all the time, so don’t worry about that! Also, please don’t be concerned about the quality of the posts, I would never ever publish anything below my standards, and believe me, they’re very high!

It’s exciting to step back and make realizations like this, because it shows that I’m growing as a writer. But I’m also a reader, and now I know that I would much rather be given something to think about than being told what to do.

speaking of which… a teeny request!

Have any posts on Minimal Student given you brainfood, or have been helpful, inspiring or motivating to you in the past?

If so, I’m trying to raise funds in order to cover costs and run Minimal Student for 2011. I don’t give in to ads or spam. I keep all of your emails private and I post all of the very best content for free. If you could please help keep MS going by donating just a few dollars, you will have my, and many future reader’s, eternal thanks.

Even if you can only spare a little, I will be forever grateful and promise to continue writing radical, exciting and memorable posts if you could click the button below:

If you can’t see the donate button, please click here!

Check out my Twitter which I now update daily with what I’m up to, minimalist tips and awesome links!

Time to prioritize

In the field of Economics, one of the first things that you learn is that resources are scarce. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is little of it. There many things that there are almost unlimited quantities of. Almost.

But the one thing there is never an unlimited quantity of is your time.

Even with all the money in the world, you can never buy enough time to do everything you want.

Opportunity cost is what you sacrifice in order to be able to do something with your limited time. You can’t go out and study at the same time. You can’t join all the clubs. You can’t have the convenience of fast food and be healthy. You can’t please everyone. You have to choose. There are rarely times you can have your cake and eat it too.

On top of that, there isn’t an unlimited amount of you. Whenever you are stretched too thin, you’ll find yourself with a large quantity of things, but without enough time or money to develop quality.

You can know a little about a lot of things, or a lot about a few things. You can have lot’s of friends that are really just acquaintances or you could  invest time in cultivating good, longer lasting friendships. You can help make a tiny impact on many people, or a change the life of a few people.

Neither is really wrong. By prioritizing what is important to you can discover for yourself which is better for you. Whichever you decide, quantity or quality, can be adapted in different situations; course, friends, clothes, food, skills, activities, to suit you. Sometimes it’s quantity that’s better, sometimes it’s quality.

When it comes to buying things, having stuff, minimalism is about definitely about quality over quantity. More wholesome and nutritious food over vast quantities of junk. More high quality, versatile and longer-lasting clothes/furniture/equipment over cheap and disposable stuff.

If you really want to get things done properly, you have to prioritize – choose what you want the most, because you can’t do them all, and it would be a shame if it was because of that you ended up not doing anything at all.

On that note, I’m prioritizing writing for Minimal Student as part of my Five Focus of 2011. This year, I’m aiming to publish more frequent, shorter posts like this one, tell me what you think! You can also follow my Twitter which I now update daily with what I’m up to, minimalist tips and awesome links.

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Five Focus 2011

Welcome to 2011 everybody! I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year’s!

So it’s that time of year again when we make the obligatory promises to ourselves and if we’re lucky, they’ll see the other side of February. I was wondering how I could solve this problem, and I think I came up with a solution.

a new way of making resolutions

Most people would tell you that the best way to make New Year’s resolutions is to set goals like losing a certain amount of weight or getting a certain level of grades etc. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals to achieve, in fact, I think it’s one of the best ways to approach it.

However, setting specific goals and achieving those goals are separate things. Using the old method, you have to be responsible for setting the goal, then deciding how you are going to achieve it. A lot of people get to this stage, they buy planners, equipment and gym memberships but when it comes to actually doing it, their motivation runs out after a little while and soon they give up.

So instead, I’ve decided to do things a little differently. I will pick five things to focus on in 2011. And I mean really focus. Apart from basic living – eating, sleeping etc. I will dedicate as much of my time, effort, money and energy into five areas of my life. My motivation is less likely to run out this way if I make my life revolve around doing things in these areas.

why five?

The conventional wisdom is that you are much more likely to accomplish something if you focus only one thing. This is great, because it really means you’ll get it done, but it’ll only work for something like a particular project or measurable goal (“I will lose __ pounds this year” etc).

But if I want to be able to live out an entire year, it would be better to not be too narrow. And, it would also be better to not be so wide ranging that you end up doing a little bit of everything and not really achieving anything. Five is a great number, but if you would like I think three would work great too.

my five focus

1. Write. Back in October, I started 750words and now almost every day I log onto that site and tell it everything, from my daily life to my most intimate secrets. I use it to draft stories, blog posts and to answer Reverb10MMT and the mindfulist. I’m not worried about putting my thoughts out there, (I haven’t done anything illegal, don’t worry!) it feels good to get it out of my system, and speaking of focus, it helps me concentrate on my work and arrange my ideas into something tangible.

2. Learn. As a book-lover, there are some books that I feel guilty about having never read in high school. Of course I’ve read some classics, but not all the ones I always see on ‘books to read before you die’ lists. I got a brand new Kindle now, so in 2011 I will definitely concentrate on ticking them off. Also, this year I will really focus on learning Japanese and getting to the level of fluency that I really want to reach. I have my own measurements for this, but for my resolution, I would just like to say that I want to dedicate much more time and effort into it.

3. Travel. I still have the bulk of my year abroad to come in 2011, not to mention a very long summer break. During the last couple of days, I spent it touring Tokyo in all it’s early morning to nightlife glory. It’s been one of the best trips I’ve made in my life, let alone 2010, but I don’t want to leave it there so in 2011, I plan to do much more travelling all over Japan and Asia.

4. Health. I’ve made a lot of improvements this year, but I am still not at the level of fitness I would like. I run over 5km quite often now, but I hope to be able to double this in 2011. Also, after my year abroad, I hope that I would be able to go back to being vegetarian.

5. Minimalism. Finally, there’s being ‘more’ minimalist – which covers all of the previous four focuses. For ‘writing’, I will concentrate on growing Minimalist Student blog. In the past few weeks I’ve been a little busy with studying and travelling, but after the new year, I will go back to writing about minimalism in general, tips and so on. I’m always learning about minimalism all the time, and because of minimalism I’m able to travel as much as I do. Finally, it is no exaggeration that because of minimalism, I’ve managed to improve my health to the point it is at today, but in 2011 I am going to redouble my efforts.

So these are my Five Focus. With these, my daily life may include a run in the morning, studying and reading during the day and travelling on weekends and holidays.

how to create your own five focus

Ask yourself:

  • What is important to you?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What skills would you like to develop?
  • What kind of person do you want to become this year?

I would love you know what your five focus would be! Please leave a comment, email or a link to your blogs, or hit me up on twitter. I would love to read them and perhaps even get some ideas!

I hope you all have an amazing 2011!