I'm a tech leader at Amazon where I currently lead ML-focused engineering teams to increase customer trust. More about me.
December 14, 2012
Fourteen months ago, I embarked on my journey towards extreme minimalism. I sold all of my possessions and terminated my downtown Vancouver studio lease, bidding farewell to my car, bike, TV, couch, and bills. All I had left was a suitcase full of clothes and a backpack containing my laptop. Cancelling my car insurance with ICBC and phone contract with Fido was an incredibly satisfying experience.
Over the past 14 months, one thing became very clear - the less I owned, the happier I felt. I began living out of a backpack smaller than the average high-school pack and had the opportunity to reside in four different countries.
To live a simpler life, I developed some personal rules:
Wants vs needs test
Before purchasing anything, I ask myself: "Would I buy it again if I lost it?" If the answer is no, I refrain from buying it.
One hand test
I only purchase items that I can carry with one hand.
For the past four months, I have not had a landline or mobile phone service. Although I own an iPhone, I do not have a phone service. As The Atlantic Wire stated, "Phones will soon no longer do the phone part of the equation."
No relationship is better than a bad relationship
It is crucial to evaluate the relationships in our lives and consider whether they contribute positively or negatively to our overall well-being. Relationships can be with friends, family, romantic partners, or colleagues. Simpler is better.
Buy one, get rid of one
I keep the number of items I own constant. For instance, if I buy a new t-shirt, I donate an old one.
These rules helped me declutter my life and achieve greater happiness. But is it sustainable long-term? How long can I live like this?
I don't have the answer, but so far, it's been fantastic for me as a 30-year-old professional without children and a 9-5 job. I believe this way of life is achievable at all stages of life, as long as you adopt the mentality and make modifications that suit your circumstances.