Let go of your most toxic habit

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Whether it’s money, possessions, body type, career, status, fame or fortune, most of us find ourselves doing it almost everyday – comparing ourselves to others.

We see someone else with more or better X, or Y than us, and we feel less of a person because compared to them, we don’t stack up.

It’s something that we don’t usually think of as a ‘toxic habit’, but it fits all the definitions. It’s something that you do continuously, usually without thinking, and is bad for you.

Why? Because while we’re busy looking at how much better someone else has done, we’re not seeing our own accomplishments. We forget to be content with what we already have. It’s one of the most poisonous things you can do to yourself.

Living a minimalist lifestyle isn’t just about decluttering your house, or how to roll your clothes up efficiently so that you can backpack around the world, it’s about so much more than that.

It’s a way of living a life where you are happy with what you have. A big part of this minimalist philosophy is to try to not compare yourself to other people’s measure of success, and find a way to live that means you are happy.

I emphasise try because nobody is perfect. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves, and sometimes comparing ourselves to people who we admire might help us become better people.

Seeing good traits in others and aspiring to be more like them, such as being more honest, or more adventurous, or having a healthier lifestyle is fine. It’s comparing material possessions that is the most toxic, because this is the universal truth:

There will always be someone with more than you.

Even the richest person on Earth lacks something you have. Always reaching out for more stuff that is ultimately meaningless will only lead to constant dissatisfaction. You will never have enough. So stop comparing your life to other people’s, and start living your own.

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  • Jen

    I agree, minimalism is about being content with what you have. Definitely something I am constantly working on! I love your blog, thank-you for this post

  • Jose De Gracia


    I’ve discovered your blog a few days ago and I must say: I love it. I’m in the process of trying to change my life into a better one, mostly trough becoming a minimalist, just like you’ve done. I’m a student as well.

    I’m stuying architecture, and oh boy, we architecture students sure know how to accumulate stuff (plans, tools, etc.) and be very busy (it’s the nature of architecture). Don’t get me wrong, I seriously love my career. But the average Architect works 6 days a week (at least where I live), and is always working, working, working. I feel like it can be different, I just want more freedom to do the other things I also like. I’m a big fan of bicycling for example. And traveling, I want to travel while I’m still young. I think you’re getting what I mean.

    I just wanted to know if there’s any way of talking to you, maybe have a conversation. I mean like an internet chat or something, even exchanging some e-mails would be fine. There’s so many questions I want to ask. How do you deal with the finantial part for example? I read you have a few gigs and a scholarship. But what will happen in the future?

    I don’t want to make this too long. Your blog is awesome and you seem like a really nice person! I’ll defenitely come back for the good reads 🙂

    English is not my main language, sorry for any mistake.

    Best regards,

    • Hi Jose,

      Thank you very much for your kind comment.

      I completely understand, it’s very difficult to find the time to do the things we love when we have to work most of the time. At least it sounds like you love and enjoy your work, so that’s a good thing!

      As for your questions, in terms of financing myself, I do it like most people do – I find internships or short term work to do, then save up to travel. While I’m travelling, I earn money by doing jobs like teaching English. Recently, I’ve secured myself a permanent job, which gives me more financial security, but it means I’m going to be staying in the same city for at least a little while from now. It’s great though, I’m loving where I live, and there’s always holiday time to go abroad if I wanted to!

      If you have more questions, feel free to comment on the blog, or hit me up on Twitter.

      Best of luck on your minimalist journey Jose!


      • Jose De Gracia

        Thank you!

        It would be really nice to read about that new job you got and how you deal with the “staying longer in one place” style of life. Maybe it’s good stop moving to move again later. Reminds me of a TED Talk that is called “Where is home?”. I’m dropping the link in case you haven’t seen it yet, I think it’s really deep and true: http://www.ted.com/talks/pico_iyer_where_is_home

  • Kristina

    I just discovered your blog and it has been a wake up call for me. I am like the anti-minamalist. I buy things everyday, lots of things. I used to be poor, and had to rely on government benefits for food. Now I am a CPA and am married to an engineer and have plenty of extra spending money. We are financial stable and have saved more at age 30 than both our parents have over their entire lives. But their in lies the problem. Now that I feel financial stable, I can’t stop buying STUFF. I am a member of amazon prime, which makes online shopping during the work day easy. I also follow some Facebook resale sites in my area so I can buy more for less. If that’s not bad enough, I follow a couponing site that let’s me buy even more stuff for less. I took the recyclables out yesterday and there was a stack of boxes 3 feet high from all the stuff I ordered from amazon this week. What did I buy? Toys that my child won’t be able to play with until he is 2, and I haven’t even given birth yet. How do I go from this extreme to being a minamilaist? The idea of spending more time actually doing stuff with my family and less time shopping is great, but actually making the transition seems next to impossible. You know you have a problem with buying too much stuff when you all the diapers, wipes and clothes you will need for your unborn child from birth until age 3. Help!

    • Hi Kristina,

      Recognising your habits is the first step. I would start small, for example, unsubscribing from groups/coupon sites, and eventually Amazon Prime. That should help get you started, and afterwards you can slowly shift your habits one at a time to reduce spending on stuff and more on experiences.

      I would also draw up plans to go away with your family and spend time together as much as you can. Once you get used to the good times, it would be hard to go back! Best of luck!