In recent weeks, I’ve lived in no specific place, organized a coalition behind an old bill (that I WILL pass, damnit); organized a coalition against the uptick of detentions and deportations of Southeast Asians in California; failed to meet several deadlines for my side projects for lack of
time (read: priority); published an article on sexual harassment; made horrible decisions; changed my hair part; cathartically cried at the beauty of life; increased my credit score by nearly 100 points; and felt like I will never save money at a faster rate than my propensity to run.
Despite my Type-A personality, I’m living well and I want to share that.
First off, I tend not to share my successes because I fear it comes off boastful, and at some loss to others. However, my successes are not my wins/profit/consumption (scarce and shallow resources that we all fight over), but the inner conquering of my self (a private and infinitely-replenishing well of goodness). I’ve always protected this sense of unflappability, but actively developing my unshakable core has been the key to laser clarity, resilience, and joy as of late.
I considered my combination lock yesterday at the gym: my password combination is unique to my padlock, so sharing it really doesn’t diminish my own security, nor does it threaten another’s. Theoretically, someone could hunt down my city, gym, and that day’s locker to unlock its contents, but the time, energy, and intense fixation on me required of that individual would point far, far away from the personal success that I am addressing.
I want to share with you my password combination in hopes that you can unlock your own success.
- Put things that don’t matter in their place (suggestion: trash can). Lots of things don’t matter, or let me put it this way: very few things matter. Your car, your brands, your makeup, your likes, *revving the engine now* your pay, your title(s), all the stuff in your house, work emails, your opinions of others, *pedal to the floor now* the hand you were dealt, your accomplishments, your entitlements, your habits — all of these things are perishable, whether or not they are tangible. If you let the things that don’t matter define you, your worth is shallow at best and fickle as a fact. I’ve been finding lots of happiness in my work, side hustle, creativity, and health lately; but they’re byproducts of well-being, and I keep them at arms-length because I’m wise and independent.
- Align everything toward the very few things that matter. Personally, being compassionate matters to me. Freeing up my society to give and receive love is important to me. It’s what I think about when I select my job. It’s how I spend my free time. It’s how I choose to talk to people and why self-care and self-development amount to anything — they’re all in service of what matters. As a result, I live 100% of my days.
This marries beautifully with minimalizm. Most obviously, I’ve gotten rid of so many physical things that don’t matter. Here are the doozies, though:
- Sentimental things: conference badges, good books, gifts
- What doesn’t matter: things that have no utility
- What matters: good memories, mental growth, loving relationships
- Expensive things: unused gadgets and unworn clothes
- What doesn’t matter: things sitting idly and taking up space
- What matters: giving to others and taking more responsibility for Earth’s resources before consuming
- Sentimental AND expensive things: that cashmere, lace-up, lavender sweater
- What doesn’t matter: the fact that I worked really hard as a waitress for minimum wage for really long hours and spent an entire month of yearning and wages on it
- What matters: memorializing past struggles and passing on that story to someone who could benefit from it, and rock the sweater, or not. (It’s in your hands now, Steph!)
This is how minimalizm goes beyond spring cleaning; it has as much to do with material things as it has with mental fortitude. The steps to becoming a minimalizt are not instructions to get to a destination, but rather a mental exercise required of the minimalizt lifestyle.
This is where I tap-in Justice Sotomayor: “After a time you may recognize that the proper measure of success is not how much you’ve closed the distance to some far-off goal but the quality of what you’ve done today.”
Now that I make a concerted effort to live really well, I have total control. Even with a wild schedule and 4 or 5 projects going on in addition to work, my heart is extremely still. I practice good gym and sleep habits so that I have energy, and I use it precisely to pursue my dreams. I constantly feel out of time, but my rushes are positive and my lulls are deserved. And when shit hits the fan and I can’t control that, I know am equipped to weather it. I own me, and I own my circumstances. It is not running away from failure or basking in brilliance; it is accepting control of everything.