I tend not to watch too much TV these days…actually let me rephrase that, I tend not to watch ‘specifically TV’ these days, as the content I choose to consume is carefully cherry-picked from one of the numerous streaming services currently available. And amongst all the rehashed and regurgitated TV shows and movies from the past, there is some super-fine ‘new’ content being developed…recent/current personal favourites include Ozark, Chernobyl, Unorthodox (totally fascinating, based on a true story, insight into the Hasidic Jewish community in New York), and probably my most favourite, the brutal and savagely hilarious well written Succession
However now there’s a new fav on the current screening list, thanks for the referral Ma & Pa, and that is the documentary series “Home” on Apple TV…’Home’, “a new original docuseries, offers viewers a never-before-seen look inside the world’s most innovative homes.”
If you’re a Grand Designs fan you’ll, I’m pretty sure, will looove this.
Focusing is about saying no
Now aside from the obviously incredibly talented individuals, the inspiring ingenuity & structural awesomeness combined with fascinating locations – there are three other things that I’m gleaning most from this docuseries.
Firstly, the individual personal narrative that motivates, inspires and gives purpose to these real world life-architects. I totally gush in awe when I see humans excelling, especially with ‘pure-expression’ – when they seemingly and fearlessly ‘know’ what they want, and ‘know’ what they are doing… and having the absolute fearless courage and self-belief to ‘do it’…attributes and skill-sets that I happily still persevering to both identify and master within myself to this day.
Secondly their bespoke life-philosophy, each of these very differing individual stories convey how they can be both closely relate and ultimately inspire us to hone our own vision on what is truly important to us, you, & me.
And thirdly their ability to eliminate the noise & the distractions around them, to ensure that both their clarity of vision and purposeful-action isn’t interrupted…which in turn fosters and perpetuates their grit & resilience.
From where I stand, these inspirational individuals seem to have captured, harnessed and executed what is commonly referred to in performance, entertainment or sporting fields as a ‘triple threat’…an individual who is annoyingly proficient in three important skills within their particular field. Such as an entertainer who excels at acting, singing and dancing…that short-arse, ugly fella Hugh Jackman would be a perfect example.
Rather than showcasing singing, dancing and acting skill-sets, these individuals from ‘Home’ have channeled, and seemingly mastered, the purposeful ingredients for ‘achieving success’…or more aptly ‘living a fulfilled life’, which I think is a better, more fitting description, as i think ‘success’ can often be interpreted as something a little more superficial and ‘complete’, whereas living a fulfilled life implies more of an holistic sense of growth…a growth yet both fully determined, and probably never seeing the end-goal truly realised…because that in itself “is” the goal…that there is no goal.
What are the ingredients, the disciplines that I’m seeing in these extra-ordinary, every-day individuals?
…know what they want. (they choose their obstacles)
…not only understand the problems and obstacles that they need to face and overcome, but cherish and are motivated by the hurdles they’ve created for themselves.
…have the focused mindset, the cognitive fortitude and resilience to finish it…they literally & passionately ‘steam-ahead’.
And it’s these qualities that not only inspires me no end, but also lends my thinking that this ‘excellence’ is achieved by, and through, mastering ‘minimalism’. (I’ll attempt to explain in the following paragraphs)
Anyways, give “Home” a look…and let me know what your thoughts.
I found the first 3, and last episode, particularly powerful and inspiring.
The second episode, I think was my favourite…though the last episode, which I watched yesterday is incredibly moving, if you’re not in tears at varying times, then you’re a stone hard, cold, Croc wearing so’n so…[Spoiler alert: they build 50 homes for an extremely poor community in Mexico..by inventing, building and using an industrial sized…3-D PRINTER!!!!!]
Minimalism is subtraction for the sake of focus…
Now you might of gleaned from previous posts that I’m a bit of practicing-minimalist…I know, w*****ker!
What does this mean and what the hell has it got to with home design shows?
God knows, but I’ll do my best to manifest some sort of flimsy segue…
What I mean by practicing-minimalism is that I apply the minimalist approach to not only what & how I live, and what is found within my home environ, but I apply the same metrics to what I consume…in terms of what I read, what i watch, what I listen to, what I do with my time, what and how I eat, how I train keep strong, fit and as healthy as possible…even my sleep habits!
What are the metrics I use?
Simply put, it’s my ability to continually ask myself a couple of questions…such as “do i need this?”, ‘do I need to tolerate this?” and “Is this good for me?”
This obviously includes, and to use a hotel term, my FFE – furniture, fittings & equipment, plus the information and the sounds that I choose to consume.
At 53 years young I deliberately choose to ensure that what physically surrounds me, what influences me, must be practical, bring me joy, improve my education, and enhance my physical and mental health.
For me, the deliberate practice of ‘minimalism’ provides me the narrative that resonates with me to remain vigilant to the overly incessant distractions that bombard us 24/7.
By doing this…
I find that I am better enabled to focus on the things that I really want to focus on.
I’m better abled to partition what is important and what is not.
And I’m becoming, as time goes by, more acutely aware, vigilant and less tolerant to unnecessary and objectionable interferences, that are within my sphere of choice to change.
Doing all of the above is, in my opinion, and to reluctantly use wellness-jargon, a daily act of active-mindfulness.
I deliberately sieve through and work on eliminating all the ‘stuff’ I don’t need such as… the ‘noise’ I don’t want to listen to, to read or watch information that serves me no purpose, or to engage in too many activities that distract me too much.
Ultimately, and where this really benefits me in my day to day, is that it builds my resilience and an ability to better equip myself when I have to do the things that I don’t want to do, but have to do...like, you know…those life-realities we all have to face and interact with.
Such as dealing with difficult situations, challenging people, reading long-winded blog articles…
Or, and ultimately the real prize…an ability to keep my own internal narrative and ego on point…most of the time…sometimes…oh ok, now and again 😇
Why is this part of my daily routine?
We only master something, if it’s deliberately & consistently repeated…plus, I’ll forget if I don’t do it everyday.
Ultimately the onslaught and badgering of modern junk-life and junk-information, and the technologies we’re now equipped with that deliver this constant ‘stream of opinion, comment and gossip’ needs to, in my opinion, be reigned in.
The ‘devices’ alone (not to mentioned the associated 24 news cycles, the app’s and social media platforms), though awesome and somewhat welcomed, are designed to steal us away from ourselves – they’re designed, like gaming machines, to be addictive, and to make us compulsive as possible.
Like junk food, junk-information is OK in limited amounts.
These days, and again like junk-food, the majority of information is reduced into bite-sized amounts, then recycled & regurgitated to make it ‘highly palatable’ to enhance it’s ‘compulsivity’…new’s and opinion, what you’re interested in, what you’re buying habits are, you ideological, religious, spiritual, political, social and dietary biases are all now being processed by A.I. and streamed directly to your noggin via our ‘devices’…which we now mindlessly absorb for hours a day.
In short, the point I’m attempting to make is that I think we need to be mindful not only how and what we’re loading into our heads, but how its impacting our mental and physical health…because ultimately, it is your choice.
Less stuff mean less stuff to manage
Be mindful not to use your money to buy loneliness, ill health, or status anxiety.
What’s the price of a high standard of living?
More to the point, what is the definition of a high standard of living?
Is the lithos test for ‘success’ or ‘living a fulfilled life’ found in the possession we purchase, collect and stow away?
Could this ‘high standard of living’ be sacrificing the present for the future?… you’re always working…everyday we’re consumed with this has to be done, that has to be done.
Grow, grow, expand, purchase, buy, consume…
The pay off is ‘handsome’, you know nice house, nice car, lots of toys & clothes and cupboards, storage spaces and garage filled with tools, appliances, and more cutlery, crockery and cook wear than you can poke a stick at…and yet we will probably use 5% of this stuff on a regular basis.
This may imbued a sense of security, a sense of safety, a sense of false gratification and pride… but is it happiness (puke), does it provide fulfilment?
What is driving us in this direction…our egos?
Is it a form of justification for all the hours worked, a self-reward system?
Does it provide more freedom?
Freedom from anxiety?
Freedom from obsession?
Freedom from sadness, frustration or an inability to communicate with your loved ones…or is “having more stuff” a expression of communication?
Or…is this desire to distract ourselves by collecting, furnishing, digesting junk an act of Self-Deception?
Minimalism is about intentionality, not deprivation.
The following is, in part, gleaned from the terrific book “The School of Life – An Emotional Education” by Swiss born British philosopher Alain De Botton, which i thought offers some pretty interesting insights.
I have paraphrased to keep it succinct as possible.
“We don’t only have a lot to hide, we are liars of genius. It is part of the human tragedy that we are natural self-deceivers. Our techniques are multiple and close to invisible:
– We get addicted. Not necessarily to heroin, cocaine or Prosecco, but to everyday innocuous activities that attract no alarm or suspicion. We are ‘hooked’ on the news, cleaning the house, exercising, overworking or scrolling mindlessly, hours a day through social media. The outside world looks on as if you’re being productive. Even you will support this claim proudly announcing ‘being busy’. The clue to our compulsiveness lies in our motives. In short we are checking the news, to keep the news from ourselves at bay. We are ‘busy’ with over-working and house tidying as an alternate to protecting and working on our own psyche and self-awareness.
Addiction is indicated by not what someone is doing, but their way of doing it, and in particular their desire to avoid any encounter with certain sides of themselves…anything to keep our darker and more unsettling feelings at bay.
– We lie by being overtly cheerful. Being aggressively jolly has very little to do with true satisfaction and more to do with unexplored and potentially overwhelming feelings of self-disappointment and grief.
– We lie by attacking and denigrating what we love but haven’t managed to get. We can tend to dismiss the people we once wanted as friends, the careers we hoped at the start one day to have, the lives we tried to emulate.
– We lie through a generalised cynicism, which we direct at everyone and everything so as to ward off misery about one or two things in particular.
– We lie by filling our minds with impressive ideas which blatantly announce our intelligence to the world but subtly ensure that we won’t have much room to rediscover long-distant feelings of ignorance or confusion upon which the development of our personalities may nevertheless rest. We lean on the glamour of being learned to limit all that we might really need to learn about.
– We lie pretending that we are simpler than we actually are and that too much psychology and philosophy might be nonsense. We heavily lean on a version of robust common sense to ward off intimations of our own awkward complexity. We imply, rather clumsily, that not thinking very much is, at base, evidence of a superior kind of intelligence. Thus we cut ourselves off from possibilities of growth. We shut out large portions of our minds and end up uncreative, tetchy and defensive, while others around us have to suffer our irritability, gloom, manufactured cheerfulness or defensive rationalisations.”
If we protected, nourished and nurtured our brains & thinking (self-awareness) as we do our homes, how could we best furnish our minds to ensure we live as comfortably and as securely as possible?
Is how we furnish our homes a reflection on what and how we fill our heads?
Does an incessant drive for more stuff create conflict and cloud our judgement and thinking?
Does our inability to identify and address what we should and shouldn’t tolerate ultimately dictate our habits, behaviours and ability to live our own fulfilled life?
Are the choices I’m making, that I have control over, actually diverting my attention away from who I really am and what I really need?
Minimalism is practicing resistance to being everything to everyone and everything, and being someone to yourself