THE LILLS MINIMALISM JOURNEY
We recently learned about dopamine in the brain and how sugar lights up the same part of the brain as cocaine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that assists in controlling the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It’s built into everyone as a survival mechanism and keeps animals and humans eating and on the hunt. The only problem is, material can trigger dopamine in the brain too. When we buy a pair of shiny new shoes, our pleasure centers go wild. When we get bored of the shoes and need something else to give us that good feeling, we go on the hunt for our next purchase. We may not know it, but we’re being played with psychologically.
It’s not until we woke up that we realized how heavily we were being influenced by outside energies, like the media. Every day we were being moved by the things we saw on television, in movies, in stores, online and on the streets. We noticed we were working all of the time and that when we made money, we often spent it on things to make us feel better about our situation, to keep us going or to reward ourselves. This cycle was debilitating, unhealthy and unfortunately, was enabled by almost everything and everyone we knew.
If we were to escape the consumerism and stop letting money rule our life, we had to pull back, almost completely. When we got married in 2010, we said no to working nine to five, started a design business and donated and trashed all of our belongings. We purchased a pair of flip flops, pants and a shirt each and began our married life with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We said goodbye to television, watching movies and the news, surfing the internet, listening to mainstream music, buying retail apparel and focused on keeping ourselves from being distracted. We even got rid of our credit cards. It was like turning off the flow of pressure and suddenly, we felt free.
For the first time together, we were completely light weight and it’s as though all of the stress was lifted. Rather than being on the hunt for the next product or purchase that would make us feel better, we were now on the hunt creatively, to produce satisfying work that would fill our voids and help spread our newfound knowledge. The illusion of what we thought our life should look like completely changed. Less became more, which is the opposite of what we were taught growing up.
When we were dating and had creative jobs in New York City, people respected what we did. We made good money and we spent good money. The only problem was, the jobs weren’t satisfying and our creative talents were being used in the advertising industry, to sell more people more crap. It felt like we were just helping the problem.
Companies literally spend billions of dollars a year on advertising. The news, commercials and television can often create misleading scenarios that make products look better and more appealing. If they can psychologically move you through art and make you feel you need something, make you desire it or envy those who have it, they’re doing their job properly.
The old idea was that in America (the land of the free), people could start with very little, work their way up and achieve their dreams. Today, nothing is free and it’s as though everyone is working faster and longer, but no one is happy, with or without money. It seems as though only a few are achieving their dreams, by selling their talents, looks, ideas and/or inventions to the big guys on top.
A great example of this is the music industry. There are millions of fantastic artists, but in order to get on the radio and reach the masses, they need a big record label to buy them up, own them and mold them into a sellable product. The artists who are purchased and reach fame make lots of money, but the big corporate labels and t.v. networks make more and have the power over them and how their talent is used. When the artist gets old, they are replaced by the next big thing. The same goes for athletes, actors, models, photographers, writers, wiz kids and anyone selling something or themselves to the greedy, for an individual profit, fame or power.
There is hope. More and more people are taking action, making their dreams happen all on their own. Today, anyone can start up a company or follow their passion in America and get going on their self-sustainable lifestyle and business.
When it comes to material products, they are now made so cheaply overseas that stuff is being thought of, fabricated, advertised, sold, used and thrown into landfills, faster than ever before. So many people are wired to become dissatisfied so quickly that it seems like consumerism has become an addictive disease. We too look back and remember buying things we only thought would make us happier or increase our quality of life. It’s the result of having the wrong information continuously beat into our minds and it took some major effort to disengage from.
By starting our own little self-operated and owned business, we began a 24-7/365 relationship and lifestyle. With nothing to our name, it was refreshing to start life on a clean slate and realize we have a choice. Necessity became the mother of invention and we learned we didn’t have to play the game anymore. We could instead, create our very own unique reality: simple life with big adventures.
Without stuff, being mobile became our dream. We picked up a ’78 VW camper bus in 2013 and slowly worked on getting him ready for long distance travel. We kept our belongings to a minimum, continued to disengage from the media and spent our time building our life and business from the ground up.
To this day, the less we have, the more important each item we choose to “own” becomes. We’ve come up with a system that works for us. Everything we have fits inside of our VW Bus. We rotate through clothes and items and when we’re done with a piece, we sell it, donate it or give it away and replace it with something else recycled to excite our brains and imaginations. As long as each of our belongings makes us smile from the inside out or is essential to our life, we’re happy and keep doing what we do.
The first thing we’d recommend to anyone wanting to go minimal is to de-clutter and reorganize life. Start with going through every personal belonging and pick out the things that still have a purpose or use in your life. When you’re down to half the items you had before, repeat the process. Eliminate everything you can and push yourself to let go, so you can enjoy the results of breaking through (even we struggled at times).
Immediately, you will feel the difference when you look at what you now have. A rush will come over you and you too will start to feel light and airy. Minimalizing objects we possess, clears up the brain and energy around us. Knowing where each item is, giving the brain less to think about and working off of less, makes us more imaginative, happy and free to pursue our dreams (plus, there’s more to go around).