I've always admired Minimalists. Those people who flip the bird to our materialistic society and are satisfied with the bare minimum.
So I was curious to know how my roommate Mark had become one.
"It was back in 2010. I was a typical Investment Banker in NYC at the time. Roughless, ultra ambitious, liberate materialistic. In the world I lived in, the very rich wanted to be ultra rich and show that they had the good life. Money had become an ego thing.
To feel very happy for the rest of their lives, they felt that they had to be known, rich and powerful. Their lives were all about status, wanting more. First having a house in the Hampton, then in Saint Tropez, then becoming a millionaire, a billionaire etc. And I was on the fast track to becoming one of them.
My Managing Director at the time was deep into that lifestyle. He was spending 250 000 dollars a month on rent for different apartments. He used to eat brunch at Saint Ambrose, the kind of places that would gather the creme of the Upper East Side, where the table where you sit matters and displays your social status. He was also fascinated by models, young blonde Russians bimbos, which would eventually cause the end of his marriage.
One night, while I was celebrating Christmas Eve with my family, he asked to come over to his place. He asked me to stop by and have dinner with him because he had no one around him (his wife had left him and his daughter hated him), so I showed up. He cried.
That night, he said 'you remind me of myself when I was young'. At the time, I took it as a compliment, but looking back at it, I'd do anything to not end up like him. He was not happy."
"Two months after that night, the seed had sprouted in my head. I completely changed my lifestyle.
I quit my job, moved out of NYC, applied for Business school, somehow got accepted. I also got involved in a serious relationship, which was easier now that I had a 9 to 5 schedule and was free on the weekends.
Eventually, I decided to travel and had to get rid of all of the stuff that I could not carry around in a bag: I left them in a storage room and ended up forgetting about them.
When I got back home a year later, my things had been auctioned. Surprisingly, I was not upset, I actually felt relieved. I got forced to become a minimalist, but then I liked it.
Here is how it works:
I only buy what I really need. I do not feel the urge to spend money on things anymore as much, and I'd rather buy one expensive thing than 10 cheap crap.
For example for clothes, there's an app that I use called Stitch fix. They follow me on Pinterest, analyse my style and send me minimalist clothes, and I send back what I do not like.
2. I'd rather spend money on experiences anyways: travels, festivals, drinks with good friends etc... I'm a lot more content this way.
3. Same goes with people, I'd rather have 5 reliable friends than 100 fake ones.
4. I have not become a hippy that does not care about money, but I do not rely on external factors (wether it is money, things, love in fact) to make me happy, it comes from inside.
5. I know that I have to take care of myself (watch my sleep, diet, health in general), be self-aware, know myself really well to make decisions that truly make me happy. One tip to get to know yourself better is to start figuring out why you get angry: dig deep on the source of your anger (it could go as far as childhood). Once you understand yourself better, you also understand others and develop empathy. And as a result, you'll get less annoyed by others, happier.
6. I still want to be successful, but not to prove anything to other people. I do not care about other people's opinions anymore. I ignore their power games, the gossips, the politics. It is like poison.
7. Now I create value (I am a Product Manager), and it feels more fulfilling because I have a meaning.
Having money and being happy is not contradictory, as long as you have a purpose, I think.
Look at Warren Buffet. He is a minimalist, he is the ultimate role model, the second richest man in the planet, he lives a very simple life and he is happy."
One week later, as I was about to move to a different city, I got rid of 75% of my things so that everything could fit into one luggage.
A first step towards the Minimalist lifestyle.