The deeper we delve into minimalist experiments, the clearer it gets: minimising everyday choices is key. Minimising your wardrobe, beauty routine, diet or shopping habits really boils down to eliminating meaningless and consuming everyday choices in order to carve out the few, important decisions that really matter.
This has become clear to me during my one month carnivore experiment, which I’ve decided to prolong. I thrive on the diet and love the monotony. I’m considering a similar wardrobe experiment. You know how Steve Jobs wore the exact same outfit (jeans and a black turtleneck) every single day? I might do the same: decide on a uniform. The challenge is figuring out what uniform will be comfortable enough for, say, coffee with a friend on Sunday morning and giving a public speech or going to a fancy job meeting. And, importantly: Swedish weather, which is dynamic and demanding.
A concise minimalist manifesto could be: make as few choices as possible and limit your options. The main advantage of doing so is a greater sense of clarity. When I stop making the perpetual, everyday decisions on what to buy, what to eat and which TV-show to watch, I tend to direct my busy monkey brain towards other activities: reading, writing, thinking and meditating. These activities are meaningful to me, as opposed to the myriad of consumerist choices that supposedly define our personalities and human worth. To me, lifestyle design is not all about making better decisions, but making fewer decisions.
My dear husband (who is currently not blogging due to work overload) often says: “Flesh is strong.” His point is that our corporeal cravings will get the upper hand more often than not whenever we face a choice. If you’re stressed out, hangry, tired or upset, you’re likely to make split second decisions that go against your long term goals. This, to Kristoffer, proves that flesh is not weak, but strong.
So, what is a good response to this recognition? I don’t believe much in trying to discipline one’s fleshy self into making the right choices throughout the day or through the course of a lifetime. That seems exhausting. Capitalist society is designed to constantly make us choose between activities, brands, snacks and treats as if choosing had a real value to it. As if choosing what to buy equals freedom. And, subsequently, if you’re life is shitty, it’s not because of structural injustice, but because you made the wrong choices somewhere down to road. See, some people choose to be happy, rich and healthy while others prefer misery.
Irony aside: our brains are hijacked by companies who know exactly what kinds of colours, shapes, sounds, words, messages, images, faces, bodies, environments, interactions, textures, scents and flavours will appeal to our ancient brains. They use the increasingly sophisticated, biochemical knowledge on how to make us buy stuff in magazines, news papers, radio shows, social media, TV-shows, movies and in physical spaces such as stores, restaurants, malls, trains, buses and entire cities. It’s a close to constant bombardment. And most of us will cave in, not because we lack discipline, but because our biochemistry is exploited. Put differently: the more choices we face, the probability of us making the choices someone else wants us to make increases.
Therefore, I believe in eliminating as many choices as possible. If flesh is strong, don’t challenge it. Don’t put yourself in situations when you have to choose. If you want to quit sugar, don’t keep ice cream in the fridge, because then you’re forcing yourself to make a choice each time you go into the kitchen. If you want to save money, don’t go to the mall and look at shiny things. If your mornings are stressful, limit your wardrobe so that there is no real choice involved when getting dressed. If you want to limit your screen time, don’t keep your phone close to hand as a constant temptation; put it away in a drawer so that you don’t even see it. If you want to read books instead of watching TV, get rid of your TV. Make it easy for yourself to adhere to conscious decisions that serve your long term goals by eliminating meaningless choices. There is a hard way to stay away from temptation (constant exposure) and there is an easy way: setting rigid, minimalist rules for yourself, based on values and priorities. This may require quite a bit of effort in the short run, but will definitely relieve you of irrelevant decision making in the long run.