Minimalism #5 Avoiding Negativity

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If you are pursuing becoming a minimalist  you might have come under fire for it. Others don’t see why you would want to have less when you could have so much more. You must be lazy or not want to work for all that stuff. You have to be weird not to want it all.

This brings up a whole new subject. A simple life doesn’t just mean having less stuff. It means having less negativity as well. Most people that are leading a life of minimalism also want peace and calm in their life. They don’t want someone that is always negative fill their ears with misery. So how do you avoid negativity? It seems simple right?

Avoiding the negative is not always easy. Sometimes you get trapped like at work when everyone starts complaining about the weather and it just snowballs from there until you are all convinced that the day couldn’t get any worse.

* Don’t jump on the whiner wagon.  If someone starts a negative conversation at work immediately counter with a positive. For example, someone complains about the rain. Your response is: The great thing about rain is that it never stays around and it always makes everything so green. My flowers will love it. Or: I just go home and fix a cup of tea and listen to the rain on the roof. It’s very peaceful.  For every complaint accept the challenge to find something positive. You may get a little teasing at first about being the always cheery guy but soon your coworkers, friends, and family will get the idea that if they want to talk like that you will not be a willing participant. Be prepared with responses when you know a situation is likely to come up. When in doubt just walk away.

*Compliment instead of criticize.  This works well in every situation and once you get the hang of it you will be comfortable using it all the time. Start by randomly complimenting strangers or  an acquaintance.  Tell them you like an article of clothing, their hair, or thank them for their kindness.  This may not feel genuine at first but soon you will find that complimenting others makes a difference in their day. You create a whole new positive just by noticing them. Move onto people at work by telling them how much you value the good work that they do. You can even find a way to do this with people that don’t give their best. Find one thing that they do well and tell them how much you appreciate it. This sets off a new mindset in the workplace. When we use positive reinforcement with others they usually react by wanting to do more for us or their job. If you tell your supervisor that you like the fact that they are always mindful when they are on the floor they will rise to the occasion and BE more mindful on the job. Positive reinforcement will always accomplish more than criticism. Try it.

*Social Media Negativity.  Have you even noticed that when a celebrity gets on Twitter and says something outrageous or negative they get a whole lot more attention than when they say something positive? Misery loves company and controversy sells. It is sad that’s the way we work but it’s true. Will it make you feel goo? Will you have peace and calm? No. Before I realized this phenomenon I would get sucked in on Facebook and be angry by the time I turned the computer off. There is a term that is used that’s called “sliming”. When we tell a negative story, spread the news of tragedy, or dramatically criticize, we slime people. Social media is filled with it and it gets attention so that they don’t feel invisible. That’s negative reinforcement. It doesn’t have to be that way. Fortunately platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and others have built-in filters that you can adjust so that you don’t have see someone’s news that is always negative. If someone is particularly negative the majority of the time you might want to ask yourself why you associate with them.

* Show me who you run with and I’ll show you who you are.  In my teen years my mother used to use this one on me and it seemed a bit silly and parental at the time. It wasn’t long before I knew what she meant. Those people we surround ourselves with are a direct reflection upon ourselves and we have to make good decisions about who our friends will be.  This is not to say that we should judge everyone based on their outside appearance but on who they are as a person. Someone that consistently steals, lies, cheats, or hurts people is not someone that you want to call a best friend. Find authentic people that are honest, humble, and kind. It’s a simple formula that will benefit you all of your life.  People aren’t perfect and they can make mistakes but look for these three qualities and forgive once in a while.  It is worth it.

 

Making the effort to avoid negativity and enjoy less chaos is not always easy but it is worth seeking out the positive. Enjoying the peace and calm of a simple life is what many of us long for and it is there for the taking.

 

Minimalism #4: Simple Entertainment

Entertainment
Centro cultural Tijuana, con fuente.

Centro cultural Tijuana, con fuente. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We are a family that is easily entertained. Every once in a while we do like to take in a theater show if it has the potential to speak to all of us but for the most part we just enjoy being together.  Our entertainment is taking up less space as we gradually go to digital and leave the cupboards of movies, music, and books behind.  How do we keep our entertainment simple?

 

* We Use Technology to It’s Potential

 

TV and Internet: My husband is a gadget guy so we do spend money on new technology every once in a while and it has paid off. We have an internet capable TV with a Google TV Box that we can surf such things as Youtube  for great content such as free exercise videos, book reviews, and music videos. We supervise our child when he watches as content appropriate videos aren’t always easy to filter.  We also subscribe to Netflix for a minimal fee each month that allows us to watch practically any program or movie we want.

 

Smartphones and Tablets: Once again the gadget guy keeps our life simple by allowing us to have handy applications such as Kindle, Evernote, and many others at our fingertips wherever we go.  We read the news, read free books, and watch Netflix movies and TV shows. This doesn’t mean that these gadgets take over our lives. We can just as easily put them away when the time comes.

 

*We Take Joy in the Ordinary

 

Summertime Walks: As soon as our youngest was able to walk with us we have made a summertime tradition of walking in the evenings together. We try to find safe local parks and walking paths that provide us with an interesting view of nature as we go. Our son loves birds and studying life cycles of plants and animals so we take every opportunity to study along the way as well.

 

Pops Burgers: This little burger place is in our new hometown. We don’t find it fancy or fast food. They cook our food after we order it and provide great service. What we love is the back in time atmosphere of the 1950’s malt shop. One of the things that touched our hearts is the parking space outside that is reserved for Vietnam Veterans. Simple, good food at a great price. Love that.

 

Spending Time at Home: This is not the usual for families anymore. Everyone is too busy going to activities and doing something else. My husband travels most of the time so we find that being at home together is one of the best things we love. We always have “tea time” at 3pm when we have a hot drink and a sugar-free sweet treat. We started tea time as a way to schedule a snack time for our child and it’s now become a bit of a tradition for us. It may just be “our thing”.

 

*We Watch for Free Events

 

The Planetarium: In our hometown the college has a planetarium that offers a free day once a month. We can go and view student project shows, science projects geared towards homeschool kids, and visit with all kinds of experts.  We also have the option to travel to the nearest city and explore the displays there as well. They also have shows at a low price as well as an IMAX theater.

 

The Nature Center: We are lucky enough to have a local nature center. Every once in a while they offer free events or we can pay the $4 admission price. The Nature Center offers all kinds of learning opportunities that are perfect for families.

 

Festivals: It seems that every community has a festival available at some point during the year. We watch the local calendars and plan to attend these events. This is good people watching and usually involves kid’s activities as well as inexpensive food offerings or samples.

 

The Library: The library isn’t just about books anymore. We recently saw a bird show there for free.  We also signed up for there program that lends ebooks just like a traditional library book. Love that too.

 

These are just a few examples of what we do for simple entertainment. It does take some planning sometimes but other times we go where the mood takes us. We are determined to have fun without spending money needlessly. What do you do for fun?