Creating a minimalist way of life isn’t at all about depriving yourself of pleasures, constantly fighting to suppress and resist your needs – quite the contrary. It is about creating positive loops that make it easier and more pleasurable to live in accordance with your true values and wants, without having to use too much willpower.
The concept of taking willpower out of the equation is proudly stolen from no other than Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. The idea is to set your everyday life up in such a way that you don’t have to rely on willpower to make good choices. You may have heard somewhere that flesh is weak, but I don’t agree. How many times haven’t you had your higher self completely overruled by your corporeal cravings? To me, this would suggest that flesh isn’t weak at all. I’m even going to be blasphemous enough to make the exact opposite statement: flesh is strong.
So, how can we acknowledge that our cravings will get the upper hand sooner or later, without spiralling down a black hole of decadence and mindless spending? For us, the answer is minimalism combined with a ketogenic way of eating. Both of these lifestyle changes did require short bursts of willpower, but once through them our cravings were different. Instead of constantly resisting temptations, we can now just give in to them, because the things we crave are good for us.
Before seeing the light, being tired, frustrated and hungry usually made us crave pizza, beer, Ben & Jerry’s and a Netflix binge. Knowing these are things best avoided, we’d spend quite a lot of energy fighting our urges. The battle was regularly lost, leaving us in a miserable, bloated pile on the couch. Spending was pretty similar. It wasn’t unusual for us to go out the door for a walk around town, with no particular aim in sight, just to come home with a bunch of junk we had no idea we needed. To add insult to injury, we’d also spend a small fortune on a disappointing lunch while we were at it. The crappy lunch, exhaustion from being in the bizarre environment of a shopping mall coupled with the frustration of wasting all that money could easily trigger cravings for pizza, beer, and – well, I guess you get the picture.
Now, the situation is entirely different. Our fat adapted bodies and minimalist brainwashing makes hanger attacks a thing of the past, and we actually enjoy the feeling of not buying things. These two concepts, minimalism and keto, amplify eachother. Since we’re never hangry, questionable purchases aren’t very appealing and because our de-cluttered life leaves us plenty of time and energy to spare, cooking proper food feels pretty effortless too. This is what we call a positive loop and once you’re in one of these you can take willpower out of the equation and still make good choices in everyday life.
Our goal in life is to create as many of these positive loops as possible. Gaucín has proved to be a goldmine for this. The views are so breathtaking that I lose interest in my blinking, beeping devil device. Instead, it’s very easy to drift into a state of mindfulness, with all the benefits it brings the brain and body. The glorious scenery makes me itch to go exploring, with the sun charging my vitamin D reserves, the steep hills providing a perfect low intensity – high volume workout and the greenery lowering my levels of stress hormones. Now, a number of loops start feeding each other. My fat adapted body doesn’t need any snacks, so I’m feeding the minimalist loop. The hiking makes my body better at fat burning and shedding stress, feeding the keto- and phone temperance loops.
What are your thoughts on willpower and positive loops, have you created any yourself or are there any you would like to create?