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3 Reasons Why Anyone Can Exercise

June 7, 2010

image by Aarmono

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

~Buddha

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]When it comes to a healthy lifestyle most, if not all, agree that you need a healthy body. Regrettably a healthy body doesn’t come free. It needs maintenance in the form of exercise. But when it come to exercise we seem to have a lot of excuses for not doing it. The most used excuse is that we just don’t have the time to add exercise to our busy schedules. In a life filled with work, a household to maintain, our social obligations and all sorts of entertainment there are just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to exercise. I personally think that we are bullsh*tting ourselves. Everyone can exercise. Why?

1. There is no such thing as extra time. You make time or you don’t.

If you have enough time in your life to watch your favourite TV shows, you also have enough time to exercise. An agenda filled with appointments is just a list of choices of how you decided to fill up the 24 hours of the day. Pick one moment and schedule it for exercise.

2. What you must do and what you have done are usually two different things.

Look back at the things you did today.

How many of those things were so essential that you were the only person to do them and you had to do them today?

This will differ for everyone but probably not much. You created an excuse for yourself that you “had” to do all the other stuff. Don’t feel bad about that. It’s only human nature to give meaning and some sort of urgency to our daily actions. Just try to let go of a few of those things so you can make time for exercise.

3. People dislike that first step of exercise.

I know that this doesn’t count for everyone. For the people who love exercise: please stop reading this article and go outside for some exercise! For those who do have problems to get to the point to put on your running shoes or get all your sports gear. I have one advice:

Just do it.

You can probably think of a thousand excuses why it is just not the right time for you now. But that’s all they are, excuses. All to keep you from that single truth. That once you put on your stuff and take that first step it doesn’t feel that bad. It might even feel great!

These three reasons also give me no more excuses. I am used to a schedule of running twice a week and yoga once a week. I’m upping the dose to at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Even if it is just a stroll down the park while enjoying the scenery.

What do you think? How much and what kind of exercise is needed for a healthy lifestyle?

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The Blogroll – How we wrecked the ocean

June 3, 2010

(image by René Ehrhardt)

Week 22

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]Everyone in this planet probably has realised the scale of the environmental disaster that is happening at this moment through the oil leak by BP. (If you haven’t, please google BP and see for yourself) As an environmental science student, minimalist and human being I am really abhorred that this is even possible in our civilization. Haven’t we learned anything from Exxon Valdez, Bhopal or Lake Victoria? We as a race are so powerful when it comes to manipulating our environment that we sometimes forget that “with great power comes great responsibility”. I know, it sounds kinda corny but it is nevertheless true!

This week’s blogroll I’ve highlighted two video’s from the TED website. If you have never heard of this website take a couple of hours of your free time and just go browsing over there. There are hours and hours of interesting speeches on all kinds of subject on that website. The two videos I like to point out are from coral reef ecologist Jeremy Jackson and sea life photographer Brian Skerry. They both portray a picture of beauty, destruction and finally hope.

Brian Skerry reveals ocean’s glory and horror

Jeremy Jackson on how we wrecked the ocean

A small part of Jeremy’s talk really resonated with me as a minimalist:

“…the thing we really need to fix is ourselves. It’s not about the fish; it’s not about the pollution; it’s not about the climate change. It’s about us, and our greed and our need for growth and our inability to imagine a world which is different from the selfish world we live in today.”

I see a place for minimalists as role models, leaders and teachers for these kind of socially problems. What do you think, can we minimalist make a difference when it comes to environmental disasters caused by human activity?

Rest of the blogroll:

Going paperless is all about hunting the bad guys!

May 31, 2010

(image by Quinn Anya)

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]As I have might have mentioned in a couple of post I have almost finished that part of your life where the question of your occupation is answered with a grin and the word student. In little more than a month from now I’ll (hopefully) be getting my bachelors’ degree in Environmental Science. This will be the end of an era for me. I started university at the age of 18 and now at 26 I’ll join the workforces of the world. Sound creepy doesn’t it? It is… a bit. It is also an opportunity to try new things. Like going paperless. I’ve already tried to diminish the amount of paper in my dorm room (and my room at my parent’s place for that matter) but somehow the stacks of paper seem to replenish themselves. Time for some serious action!

Before I start writing about going paperless I must admit from the start that going paperless is impossible and for me undesirable. It is impossible to go paperless in a world that still thrives on paper and maybe even more important: I love paper! I love its touch, its smell, its flexibility and its ready to use kind of attitude. I’m not and will not go paperless! I’ll settle for paper-poor if that is OK with you. So… going paper-less/poor…

I found myself a very nice article by Gianpaolo Pietri from the Optimalist going 95% paperless. Sounds like the paper poor attitude I’m willing to achieve. In this article he makes a nice distinction between temporary and permanent kinds of papers. Everyone with the willingness  to get rid of paper can make that distinction.

We must deal with no remorse or regret when it comes to temporary kinds of paper. Because it’s the one that is always coming back. It’s the brochures that falls on doormat every day, the post-it that stays on the fridge after its usefulness, the magazines you already read months ago. Get rid of them. It’s just clutter and like I wrote two weeks ago we need to act merciless when it comes to useless clutter. When it comes to the permanent kind of paper I have only a few tips: buy a good scanner, read Gianpaolo’s article and if you can’t scan it but you still want to keep it, keep it!

But I found out that there is a still unspoken third kind of paper. It’s these ninja’s that we need to pay attention to. It’s temporary kinds of paper that looks like permanent kinds of paper. They come in many disguises: books you will reread someday, that report you wrote ages ago and never opened again, the financial documents dating back to the year you were born. It’s these bad asses that in the end will hog up all your precious space.

But how do you spot those masters of disguise? By re-examining and re-evaluating the papers that you kept. Is this book/this report/this piece of paper from ten years ago still important to me? Do I need it? Am I sure? It’s these kind of questions that in the end will unmask the villains.

Go as far as you are willing to go. The interrogation can become quite though/emotional/long/boring. Nobody will look down if you only go for 5% less paper. Whatever your personal goal is, good luck hunting!

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The Blogroll – The best lessons endure time

May 27, 2010

Book with ancient writing

(original image by Firepile)

Week 21

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]Minimalism is a true 21st century movement. It just seems to fit in our part of the timeline. It fits in a time where economical systems crack under their own weight, where the most used energy sources are rapidly depleting and where the environmental consequences of consumerism are becoming more and more visible every day. This movement is hip, new, modern, awesome and based on centuries old wisdom.

This week I like to share two article with beautiful lessons from a former time. Gianpaolo Pietri has taken the time to read a book by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius called Meditations. For our reading pleasure he wrote the article “10 Optimalist Lessons from a Roman Emperor” in which he translates those ancient words into lessons we can all understand.
Francine Jay has written us an article called “Ancient Minimalist Wisdom” It is an awesome list of quotes by ancient western philosophers and to be honest I think I could write a complete blogpost on every single one of them.

It seems the best lessons can endure time. Have fun reading and if you haven’t had enough just pick a title you like from the list below.

Rest of the blogroll

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How to completely and utterly fail while trying to sleep

May 24, 2010

image by Mollybob

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]This week I tried to use David Damron’s 4 simple habits to sleep better. Guess what, the experiment failed. What? Yes! It completely and utterly failed. And here comes the twist… it wasn’t David’s fault. The habits that David thought up are really good but I couldn’t put them to work.

Before going to the real problem I like to look for a moment at the sleep improving habits, they deserve it. They are simply rock solid. When it comes to sleep you have three areas where it can go wrong: getting to sleep, the quality of the slept hours and the amount of hours slept. Eating right and no large meals 4 hours before sleeping gives your body the rest it needs in order to recuperate completely. No TV and more exercise will help you fall asleep easier and a regular schedule will help your body adjust to the chosen sleep cycle. Getting these four habits right will improve your day and trains your body to sleep when it has to. Then why could I put them to work?

In order to solve that I’ll take you back to the first night I decided to use David’s habits. That night I had written my previous post on decluttering my dorm room and was pretty certain this new habit would be awesome. That is until a couple of my friends invited me to a poker night. It was a great game with lots of beer and snacks. I think I haven’t slept any worse than that night in a long time. The actual night I decided to change the pattern was in the end the one in which I broke all the rules.

Look back at other decisions in my life I realised that this wasn’t an exception. The day I decided to eat healthy I craved for snack food, the day I decided to watch less TV I found two new series to watch. Every time I made a life altering decision I started to do/crave/think about what I would lose. With that realisation I solved the puzzle. I didn’t decide to do something good, but I decided to do something less bad. In this way your new decision will always remember you of what you had instead of what you can get.

When trying to change your life you should try to put the change in positive terms. Don’t think about what you will lose but what you will gain. So coming week I’ll try David’s habit again (I will not write about it though. I’m keeping that a secret.) and this time I will think about the quality of my mornings instead of the lost hours at night. This time I will think waking up energetic instead of the snacks I’m not going to eat. So David, I’m sorry and this time I’m going to do it!

The Blogroll – Questioning the couch potato

May 20, 2010

image by Dweinberger

Week 20

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]This week I found two articles about what is the centre of most households: the living room. That place is the best example of a multifunctional room within any regular household. We use it for inviting people, watching tv, eating, chilling out, reading, listening to music and all sorts of other stuff. It’s probably, next to the bedroom, used the most used room in the house.

This week Joshua from Becoming Minimalist and Francine from Miss Minimalist are questioning the two largest pieces of furniture in that room: the TV and the couch. The articles Questioning the Couch and Ten Reasons to Watch Less Television are beautifully written and very convincing. I’ll be honest, I will not get rid of my couch or TV but it is this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that I love reading about.

The rest of the roll

  1. The Remembering Manifesto from Joy Ninja
  2. Curated computing: What’s Next for Devices in a Post-iPad World from ARS Technica
  3. Deadlines and the Urgency Side of the Eisenhower Matrix from Be an Original
  4. The Beauty of the Ellipsis from Zen Habits
  5. Curiosity – 7 Magical Ways to Use it as a Personal Development Tool from Dragos Roua
  6. Why you should ask yourself “What if?” from Simply Minded
  7. The Secret of Positive Realism from Goodlife Zen
  8. Letting Go of Attachment, from A to Zen from Zen Habits
  9. Social Media Revolution 2 from Maximmm
  10. Blind Leading the Blind from the Minimalist Path

Declutter like a pro, not like a zealot!

May 17, 2010

image by Tobo

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false] For most people decluttering is one of the first things they try out when it comes to minimalism. My declutter journey began a few months before I even heard of minimalism. So let’s go back to September last year, the beginning of my last year as a student. Being a student I have one room to my disposal: my dorm room. As I wrote in April a dorm room is a dormant health hazard on its own. My room, not a code red or anything, still needed some serious decluttering. In those days I gave myself the goal to create a good study environment. So I emptied my desk and got rid of much of my old clothes. The argumentation went as follows:

  • I need to study so…
  • I need less distractions…
  • I need less crap in my room so I can concentrate better…
  • I need more empty spaces…
  • I need to search for spaces with too much junk…

FOUND THEM!

There they were: one desk with filled with papers and one couch with a lot of unwashed clothes (remember this is a dorm room!). It felt good to clean up those spaces and I didn’t even need a guide for it!

Alas, this happiness wasn’t meant forever. Studying meant new piles of paper and the couch became the resting place for other stuff. So I search even further. So I looked for help in the largest library I knew: the internet! Through a series of good and bad advises found on the subject of self management I found Leo Babauta’s website and got acquainted with the ways of simplicity and minimalism. It was a revelation for me!

And of course, as most people, the first thing I tried out was decluttering my entire room. I did and my room hasn’t been as much of a health hazard ever since. So let’s go through the steps Leo suggests in his article “How to Declutter“:

  1. Do it in small chunks
    • Amen to that! Don’t try to do everything at once. It’s seriously mind-numbing,  probably overwhelming and for when you have dust-allergies like me not as rewarding since you feel like crap after a day of rummaging through dust catchers.
  2. Set aside a couple of hours
    • Plan it in your agenda. When you are trying do it as something on the side you are probably checking everything twice.
  3. A complete shelf/drawer at once and sort out the pile quickly and decisively.
    • Best idea ever! Batch your decluttering and pull your attachments away like band-aids!
  4. Be merciless (but be careful with important papers)
    • Whoa, wait… Merciless, pull like band-aids? We are talking about stuff with a lot of memories! What if I miss them? What if I’m too enthusiastic? What happens if the high of throwing stuff away is gone and I realize I threw stuff out that I won’t forgive myself for? This is something I only realized after a while. Most bloggers write posts about decluttering for those who have big problems with throwing stuff away. But what if you are too enthusiastic like me?
  5. Create a maybe box, if you need one.
    • If you are as enthusiastic like me, you need a maybe box. Not to put off the hard choices but to create a buffer between you and the trash can. Use the 30 days rule of shopping (wait 30 days before doing large stuff) also for throwing stuff away!
  6. Create a system to stop clutter.
    • Remember that bloody couch of mine? Pause yourself after that whirlwind of decluttering a shelf or drawer. In that moment of peace give everything in your house (or in my situation dorm-room) a place of its own. This way the stuff you have can’t clutter.
  7. Celebrate when you’re done!
    • Grab a beer,  plunge into your couch and admire the result. Use this feeling as a reminder how awesome a clean and uncluttered room feels like.

So after all this decluttering, should your room as empty as the picture above? No, an empty house is not necessary for becoming a minimalist. Your life doesn’t have to contain only 100 items. Unless you want to… Living minimally is not about emptying your life but living with what you consider essential. As my brother asked me on Facebook can a minimalist have a big ass tv? Of course! Especially if that minimalist (me) is also a big movie fan.

So those are my experiences when it comes to decluttering according à la Leo. The most important thing you need to remember is that minimalism, and decluttering alike, are about improving your life, not diminishing it.