The NoXS Minimal Philosophy Pt 2: The “Minimal” Bit

Last week, I suggested the first question you ask as you embark on or review your new NoXS Minimal lifestyle was the question of “NoXS”. That one asked you to think about how much would be okay: at what point would you consider an area to be in excess?

The second question then is the “Minimal” question: how minimal are you prepared to go? While at first glance it might seem like this question is the same as the first, they are in fact quite different. Furthermore, there is a tension that will arise between your two answers which is important (and which we shall discuss on the next post) in working out what your NoXS Minimal life will be like for you.

This question is in fact the harder of the two. While every ideal in your head will have you scaling back to as meagre an existence as you can imagine, you cannot fully answer this question without taking into careful consideration the practical nature of what it is you are conjuring up in your head.

So to start with, whittling your pots and pans cupboard back to only one mid-sized saucepan might seem like the minimalist ideal. But before you go and have your kitchenware melted down, consider first what you do when your recipe has you boiling rice, simmering a curry and boiling a Dahl. Three pots required! Now, if such cooking is a once off, no problem – just have a plan (cook the curry, Dahl and rice separate and take a bit more time to do so). But if you cook like this regularly, your minimalism will just be a form or martyrdom that will frustrate you and those around you before too long.

This is why here at NoXS Minimal I consistently go on about the NoXS Minimal journey NOT being a one-size-fits-all exercise. While my kitchen may be well equipped, yours might be bare. That doesn’t make mine any less minimal than yours assuming I actually use what I have (and that is another blog post right there). Similarly, your lack of a library may be found to be quite disturbing to someone else whose work (or pleasure) is book-based. And you might find their lack of things hanging in their wardrobe equally so.

Three important things in answering this question:

1. Be Honest With Yourself: Goes without saying, but temper that honesty with the other two things.

2. Don’t Be A Martyr: Yes, you could just dump everything today. I am sure many have done so with varying degrees of success. But I would suggest that if you are in doubt, do the old test of holding onto it, see if you use it during a period of time (from a few months to a year). This can validly include admiring it if it is some kind of display item. Or out it away somewhere. If it hasn’t been used or missed in that period of time, THEN do the removal honours. Better this than suddenly realising the expensive item you gave up you actually do need and have to go get another of! This way also will assist in a gradual paring down which I think most will find easier for transitioning and therefore more likely to stick.

3. Consider Others: If you are in a family, make sure you consider the others in your household. Goes without saying, but you would be surprised the arguments I have heard of! But, even if you live alone, consider what you do at your place with others. Do you entertain? Do you like to be hospitable? Do you like to have guests stay? You should think carefully about how your paring back will affect your capacity to do these things and, if they are important to you either a) reconsider getting rid of that item; or b) change your approach (perhaps picnics in the park are now the order of the day instead of BBQ’s in your backyard?).

It might be useful to work on one room/area at a time and ask the NoXS and the Minimal question about that space. Take your time in answering them and as you do, start to see the the tensions that arise. For example, you might decided that you only want to own “x” number of shirts. But what if your travel or occupation needs you to own “y”? Suddenly your NoXS and your Minimal are in tension.

And it is what you do with that tension that will make your NoXS Minimal life sing. More on that next post.

Live Simply & Simply Live,

Mark G

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