One Life

I think what is it that a man can want in this life?  What are the core desires? An enjoyable home, a lover, health.  Perhaps travel, a legacy, children, or retirement.  There’s not much else, from person to person.

For some reason, few people have a grasp on just the five things that they truly want.  I focus a lot on love, home, and health, trying to dissect the parts and figure where we fail.  The subject of love is at the root of our relations to children as well.  Then love is the original value.

Most of our life is made up of social, self-preserving, and sexual concerns.  We are strongest at one of these more than all the others, and the others usually suffer for our primary strength.

I’m not satisfied with that.  I’m not satisfied with being imbalanced or inept at a core component.  I want to share what I’m working on or what has worked for me.

SOCIAL REALM:

For introverts, a robust online life can be like a morphine drip.  Great interactions, conversations, friends on boards of interest, and it is somewhat of an illusion.  Getting to know someone online takes a great deal of effort.  Also, nothing beats fresh air and doing something with, rather than conversation.  Relationships in real-life are three-dimensional, interactive.

You may roll your eyes at this point if you are a social person, but your strength is not other’s.  These things have to be emphasized and sold, for those who look down on socializing as a waste of time.  We hate small talk, we hate trends — but socializing gives balance.  Not everything is about what we like.  It helps society for us to concern ourselves with what matters to others to at least some degree.  There is great joy and efficiency in a social life:  Experiences that round us out, joy that lights up our dullest days, and efficiency in developing relationships and a sense of style.

Social standard: Leaving the house to socialize.  Travel at least once a year. Dress nicely.  Navigate the topics of religion, politics, and trends without condescension or disruption – being a part of the whole, and making an effort.  Balance tact with truth, instead of clinging to serving everything straight.

SELF-PRESERVING REALM:

This is our domain.  Saving money, purging, cooking and cleaning.  However, it is easy to go overboard in this realm, in overpurging, overcouponing, or eating too much/dieting all the time.  Everyone knows someone who is counting every penny or is perpetually dieting.  They will say it is because they have to, but is it really, or have we made self-preserving our whole life, our saving and calculating a virtue, instead of as a means to a more meaningful life. 

For me, bare minimal self-preserving is keeping the home clean: Focusing on the kitchen and bathroom every once in a while.  The rest is easy enough with floating minimalism, lint-free towels, and a cordless vacuum.  The second is to make sure I’m eating well for my body type – to figure it out and abide to some degree.  The third is to make sure I get enough sleep no matter what, even if I have to rely on melatonin.  

Self-preserving standard:  Clean home, hygiene, food, enough sleep, and adequate focus on career.  Nothing overboard or underboard.  Budgeting could be another category.

SEXUAL REALM:

The last realm has to do with our closest friendships, our lover, and ourselves.  This is not the same as the social realm because these are the closest ones to us, not acquaintances.

Speaking for introverts, I don’t think there’s much space to have more than five close friends.  So be choosy.  You have heard me wax about forgiveness and understanding and withholding judgment – and I stand by these.  However, when you’re dealing with what you allow to affect you constantly, you have to carefully curate what enters your home.  Unhealthy people and mindsets should be kept with some distance.  You only have five slots or so, so socialize until you can fill those slots with five quality people.

The people I choose are people that are ideally kind and intelligent, as that encourages me where I want to go. So if you have a parent or friend who is filling a spot as one of your top most-called people and they have not cared much for you or themselves, ask yourself why.  Is it because you lack a social life or they’re the closest in proximity?  It doesn’t mean to not help others, but it means to respect yourself.  The more stressed you are, the less you can offer to others in the social realm and your career/family in the self-preserving realm.

The next is to do with love.  Be selective. Vulnerability is a must, and if you can’t feel that way with a lover because you fear them using it against you or thinking less of you, then ask yourself why you don’t value who you are.  An intelligent person should see through to you, and value you for who you are and where you’re headed.  What area of your life have you neglected – your mind, your social life, your appearance – that makes you feel invaluable?  For court reporters, some firms cannot afford the price we have to charge to value the amount of effort we’ve put into our skill.  When this happens, we don’t lower our prices.  We let them walk away because to be a professional is to know your value.

The final is to love yourself.  Why do you overthink some things?  What patterns are you repeating? Recognize behavior, especially daily behavior, and if you’re heading where you want to be going.  Most of what we do every day has little to do with what we want, not toward us being more kind, relaxed, or valuable.  So then why do we do it?   

I accept others for who they are.  Greed or cruelty doesn’t make me think less of a person.  I just know what is not for me.  It has nothing to do with the other person.  They have a right to be the way the are and prioritize whatever they do, and you have a right to not encourage or enjoy that.

Sexual standard:  Balance being yourself with making the closest people feel loved and safe.  Understand their personality as well as you can, as there are only five or so people here, to help and please and to be patient in signs of stress.

Put whatever you want to offer the closest people in your life, and live by it.

In this way of making sure we are doing the bare minimal for a balanced life, we can’t help but end up where we should be.  Change your daily routine, then balance comes.

Most action in life is haphazard.  Intelligent action, as minimalists, is our goal because efficiency is more important than productivity.  So lay it out today, and let us elevate to our ideals.

Honesty

People have opinions on many things, especially on eco-friendliness, politics, religion, diet, parenting, and mating.  We have a social and homebody self, and it’s a shame to me that people are afraid of who they are.  Whatever is normal is familiar, and so it is esteemed the most because we all want to feel like we’re coming home, even if what is normal is not healthy.  We were taught love and virtue by many things and people, but rarely did these definitions come from us. Any opinion that is not normal, we will either hide that opinion, attempt to deliver it with tact, or suffer implied consequences.

I don’t think there is a person who doesn’t have some odd opinion for the society or company in which they find themselves.  Therefore, I think that if honesty is a virtue, then compassion should be esteemed highly.  Mindfulness and minimalism go together well, and so do lovingkindness and honesty.

I find it hard to put myself in the shoes of many people, but the virtue would be in the trying.  Understanding is hard.  Loving people the way they are is not encouraging others to do wrong, but encouraging them to be honest and to feel safe.  Healthy minds would make the best choices.

Gossip, judgment, and condescension are mainstays in society.  But is this the world we want to find ourselves?  We can’t tell a motive or a heart very easily.  People feel afraid — provoked or overly cautious — in speech.

So if a citizen or lover has a hurtful opinion, I want to know it.  My job is to work on letting the truth not affect me in any way that won’t encourage it.

So maybe some things I cannot live with or handle in love, and it is up to me to be vulnerable enough to pour out my fears on the reasons why, even if the vulnerability isn’t received with the same level of compassion.

In an ideal world, being ourselves would be the pleasing — and in a lot of ways it is.  But certain behavior plays on our own fears, our own shortcomings.  There is no perfect human.  To love is to understand fear and to allay it, not just to please by being.

Understanding and vulnerability are my only two roles.  I want to give people the benefit of the doubt.

No friend is independent of each other completely. That’s the beauty of life:  We change the world by changing ourselves.  The best chance we have at being a positive influence is through accepting people as they are, with no expectation.  People can only change so much, so fast, ourselves included.

How can we love others when we can’t love ourselves?  So then what we do at work and how we see ourselves — day to day the majority of us don’t live by our ideals.  We putter around the house and we try to survive —  this comes to be who we are.  When we look in the mirror, do we like what we see?  Are we happy or always looking forward to another day, a better version of ourself?  If we can see past our eyes, to our soul and our motivations, then we can be honest, and not just opinionated.  We move ground when we move ourselves.

Value: Decision-Making

Decisiveness and assertiveness go hand-in-hand. I have not seen a person with just one.  Businesses prize and pay well for both.  Being decisive cuts down time and adds to efficiency and confidence, and confidence is needed for every facet of life.  Skill can only do so much, as what we know only accounts for a part of our happiness and successes in life.  Confidence is a great asset for the rest.

There are two ways to get better at making decisions.

Eliminate.

No matter what way you look at it, decision-making is tedious and takes  precious energy.  Eliminate possessions, cleaners, errands, and chores as much as possible.  Especially focus on the small, regular things during elimination.  Being mindful will lead to efficiency and a harmony while getting ready or tidying a house , as very few things will give difficulty. Necessary activities will remain unfamiliar.  Unfamiliarity leads to a lack of productivity because anything unfamiliar or complex takes the most energy.

Practice.

In court reporting school, we trained our fingers to sustain 3-4 strokes a second accurately.  There were big dreams that hinged on our ability to force our strokes from choppy hesitancy to fluid competency.  It seems impossible to learn a language and speak it fluently in as little as a year, but perhaps we don’t give our brain enough credit.  I pushed myself sometimes to the verge of tears, and there were many things sacrificed for dreams.   Holidays and health, there was almost no price that I would not pay, to be able to practice. Some weeks, there was no progress to show for the intensity.  Some days, I could see a step back.  But I knew that with consistency and attention, the desired result would come around for me.  Intensity in practice will lead you to where you want to go.  Where you think you are pushing yourself hard enough, we find that the mind can still go on, where the body gives out.   This is not to say to kill yourself to make a quick decision, but that pushing yourself on tasks you’d like to improve eventually leads to effortlessness.

Intuition.

When deciding on what to buy big and small, who to hang out with, where your passion lies, trust intuition more.  We overthink too much.  We calculate, as if everything can be quantified in dollars or joy.  Value goes beyond obvious price.  We can’t calculate accurately, no matter how sharp our minds are, as there are too many arenas to consider: effort, compatibility, price, quality.  So then be pragmatic and trust intuition more:  Your thoughts and feelings, all your experiences up to now, can produce a quick and favorable result.  Good enough is more than what we call it; where energy and time is saved, good enough can elevate to the best decision, even after extensive considerations.  For the 10% more in possible improvement in a chore, maybe we exert an expensive 30% extra effort and time.  To settle for the 90% good enough then is not settling, but it is finding balance.  We have to trust ourselves and others more.

The next time you shop or declutter, take these moments as the opportunities they are, to sharpen the ability and speed to identifying importance.  Being in touch with feelings (values) and intuition makes the world we all love.

Though the business world primarily rewards analysis, feelings give us a world to work for.  Feelings sustain relationships and make us come alive.

Feelings, thought, and experience combine to give us intuition, which if we are attentive to, can perform instantaneously and accurately, appearing magical until examined.  Intuition is simply a heightened awareness of everything we’ve gathered up to this point and and a habitual consideration of the future in decision-making.  Therefore, intuition is forward-thinking and valuable, and it’s something worth the effort to trust and to find.

 

Minimalism and Organization: An Oxymoron?

Some say that if you minimize enough, then organization is not necessary.  I think that organization products become less necessary, but that organization makes sense for all that value efficiency.  Organization is really layout, where to place things.

Though not all personalities value efficiency, efficiency can help all.  How efficient you want or require depends on you.

I often think about how to efficiently organize.  Over the years, I’ve decided that it is indeed more efficient in almost all cases to make things easier to put back than to take out (because the putting back is the part we slack off on more than the taking out).  If we downsize enough, nothing should be too hard to get out anyway.  With a lot of bakeware or pens, for instance, finding or pulling something out can be cumbersome.  So that brought me to my first rule of organization:

1. Downsize, so that things are easy to pull out and so that you need few organizers.

 

Beyond that, keeping things all together in one area makes cleaning very simple because you can pile things in your hand and head to one area to disperse.  If storage locations are spread out, putting things away and taking things out is cumbersome.

2. Keep things in one area, whenever possible.  Putting things away easily is the goal.  Two to three drawers per room is the ideal.

 

Keeping things in one area is easier if you’re a minimalist, because one drawer can hold a lot greater percentage of your possessions.

I have followed these two rules for the past few years, and I question, especially where the kitchen is concerned, where I can improve.  Minimalism for me serves efficiency because I’m an INTJ:  So function above all else. Eco-friendliness has to serve efficiency, which in many cases, it does.

Minimizing more, especially where furniture is concerned, helps to minimize cleaning time and allows you to fit eventually more comfortably in a smaller space.  Minimizing more where oddball thing are concerned — papers, light bulbs, batteries, stamps, gift wrap, art supplies — allows us to fit everything in 2-3 drawers, instead of seven.

3. Minimize furniture and rarely used items.

 

Recently, I’ve stopped using stamps and letters.  I mailed out one or two letters this year, out of necessity.   Though we may not be able to cut some things out altogether, where we can cut back on using materials should always be considered. I also stopped gift wrapping.  This is not practical for more social families or for families with children, but I’d rather buy bags for items or, if they’re for an adult, just give items straight.   Buying bags is more expensive to do, but it eliminates a good portion of my oddball drawer — a portion that I was reaching for only three times a year — so it made sense for me and my priorities.

I am on the lookout for new ways to be more efficient or on the lookout for quality because I enjoy this, but minimalism does not have to be this way for you.  In the same way of credit cards, we are to use minimalism, but if we become indebted or go too far with it, we can begin to serve it.

Finding balance and being mindful are tied to minimalism very closely, and there is a balance to our possessions.  Only you know the personalities that live in your house and what balance and joy is.  Use this inside information to craft the life of your dreams.

Easy Eco

There are many reasons to go eco-friendly.

Here my favorites:

1. Reduces costs long-term

2. Reduces shopping trips

3. Reduces putting away items when coming back from the store

4. Makes shopping trips efficient

5. Reduces waste from boxes through disposables coming through the mail

6. Reduces having to write disposables on a list every time they run out

7. Saves the planet

Truly, getting disposables down is one of the biggest things you can do, other than streamlining food, for maximum efficiency and effortless living.

Disposables Remaining:

toilet paper 
Note: I love mega rolls!  Less cardboard waste, less time spent stacking rolls and less changing out.
paper towels 
Q-tips
Note: I always stick with name brand for cotton swabs.
light bulbs – Target
Note: I never buy LED because LED is less restful to the eyes.
organic pads
pink earplugs (for small ears)
tan earplugs (for normal ears)
Note: I use the pink earplugs.
————————————–

Eco-friendly Items:

reusable paper towels
reusable cotton rounds (Etsy)
Note: They discolor.

glass straws
Note: Recommended to rinse straw out after drinking smoothies.
water pitcher (small, the one I use)
water pitcher (family)
Amazon mini snack bags (that don’t leak)
Blue Avocado reusable clear bags

Envirosax reusable blue shopping bags
Planet Wise makeup bags 
titanium spork

Amazon battery charger
Amazon AA eight batteries
Amazon AAA four batteries
AA to C adapters (for Luminara candles)
AA to D adapters
Note: I don’t own any D batteries.

Anything You Can Imagine

Anything we can imagine, that is a worthy dream, we should try to build it from the ground up.  Press your imagination on especially the small things.  I know what it’s like to come from nothing.  On welfare from the day I was born, living off food banks, and never a vacation until 23, I know what it’s like to struggle.  I see it in the homeless – people with dreams and felonies and mental illness – utilizing all they can to survive, especially in the winter.  It is part of the reason I put off having children, to live with a little breathing room.  I have found happiness in plenty and in lack, I have found emptiness in scarcity and self-indulgence.  Life is what you make it, what we focus on.  Don’t underestimate yourself.  If I have to make decisions, I will make them using intuition, imagination, and objectivity.  Advice is welcomed, but we have to prove out all advice, that it fits with us.  The proving comes before the believing.

We elevate our thoughts when we think beyond all that has been written by authors before us.  Tap into intuition – your greatest gift – because no author and no speaker knows you better than you.  You live with yourself every day.  The ideas for how you can make each motion more efficient can become apparent with imagination and mindfulness.  Our mission in life is to find what is true for us.

Small Improvements Are Life:

I remember the feeling of getting down to two pencils in college — granted, no kids are walking off with my pencils haha.  Ever since that day, I’ve had the same two pencils.  It’s hard to lose even the small things with few things.  I’m not an extreme minimalist, but even a moderate minimalist can clean a house in 30 minutes or less, no matter the kitchen mess.

Downsizing kitchenware was the most rewarding.  It’s great because you can keep your pots and pans in one area, your utensils in one other area.  If you are putting things away or preparing for a meal, only 3-4 cabinets/drawers ever need to be opened.  Putting my meal napkins next to my utensils was my most recent improvement, and perhaps I will find a way to keep the plates nearby my place mats as well, for ultimate efficiency.  I’m sure we’ll find more ways together.

Getting furniture down to the basics and elevating as much as possible made cleaning so much easier.  Armed with only one cleaner, even dreamy intuitive me could keep up with the weekly tasks for once.

Perhaps the biggest benefits of buying less are having to put almost nothing away after shopping, no more returns, and no more regular donations.  Most things now can be purchased online, and even more will be added to Amazon in the next 10 years.  Getting groceries delivered to our door is not that far off.  Great efficiency through the use of drones is on its way.  Perhaps wages will continue to stall because of this, but we will get by, because we are minimalists and we have overcome everything that has come our way.  Whatever needs to be done, we will rise to the occasion as it comes, as our ancestors did before us.  Minimalism builds optimism, courage, and resourcefulness.  We will make it!

Letting Go:

Here are some other things I’ve learned to let go of over the years, in keeping with the minimalist mindset.  The physical realm is very small compared to the mental state and energy/errands saved:
1. Avoid great stress.  I stopped trying to recover money from anything that can’t sell for $50.  Your limit can be $20, but at least set a limit.  Don’t try to sell everything, unless you are passionate about selling things online.  Follow passion, where you will shine.

2. Signing up for cards for money, whether at a store or from a major credit card company.  One card, 2%.  You can add a few more cards if you need for business or if you travel enough to justify the 5% gas or air rewards, but it is a nice load off not to have to keep track of rotating categories.

3. Using checks to pay for taxes.  I’ve used two checks this past year — a great savings in stamps, letters, and checks themselves. You can pay quarterlies online and make money back using your 2% card.  The 1.89% fee is a write-off, and you can make .10% cashback on thousands of tax dollars.

4.  Using physical coupons.  I only use email ones, because they take up no space and require minimal energy.  Besides, I am particular on what I purchase and do not want to be dissuaded or strategic.

5. Trying to take advantage of sales, going to multiple stores or buying sizes or quantities larger than I would normally.

I do not spend more than the average family, no matter clothes or vacations, and this is because I put my money where it matters for me.  So long as we buy quality and put money in our retirement, at the end of the day, all is well.

 

Love is Essence

You are told in life that love is actions, not words.  Love is more than actions.  There are many unhappy wealthy housewives that do not feel love at all, though there are enough actions to justify their spouse’s love, and vice-versa.

Words can be manipulated, and we see politicians do this all the time.  Actions can be postured, as we see with companies that have poor practices: They will donate to a green cause or donate to the community for PR.

But love is not formulaic, and there are no excuses for not being able to feel love.  Love is an essence.

Online, when someone says, “I do not hate ____, but I need to say this,”  the words that they are about to line up cannot say more than their tone.  Their essence tells the group or person they are discussing what they need to know.  The essence is all intuitives want to see.  It is the soul of a person.

We cannot know intentions; we don’t understand most actions.  But we can feel the energy of a person, their personality and what is true to them.  For Peter, in the Bible, he resorted to violence after years of listening to a peacemaker, and he did this for a good cause.  He had every right to be angry and to defend, but good intentions are not good enough.  Actions and spirit matter far more.  We can still give people the benefit of the doubt, that they had good intent — this is all I can do — but what we need more from ourselves and those closet to us is a loving essence.

Love is not just a feeling, of course, but when the essence is right, actions line up naturally.

Love is something that you feel on the dark days, on days where you disappoint yourself.  Love takes many forms: a warm touch, a sacrifice, a personalized surprise.  It warms the heart, protects, and lights up children’s eyes. In the presence of a loving essence, truth and health make sense because there is no fear.  There is no condition.  Even in silence, true love can be felt, and it heals all of our shortcomings and the shortcomings that we encounter all of our lives.

Be the loving essence that makes people feel like they’ve come home.  Like water, flow to the lowest points and restore.

Mindset

There are many injustices in the world and many salespeople.  People vacillate between realism and hype, and we have to decide, what is the right mindset to have.  A forced, loud MLM optimism has minimal appeal to most people, as incessant pessimism has no utility for many others.   There are many things that weigh down on reality.  A lot of what weighs down reality is how we focus. I don’t think it is productive to live with the focus on what lacks, though it comes naturally for me: to focus on what needs improvement, or on what is missing.

I think that the mindset that people are good in the world, even though there is good and bad in all of us, and that the future is going to be bright is the only one that adds to health and productivity, which are two goals that add to brighter tomorrows.  There are injustices in this world, toward women, toward minorities, toward the planet, toward animals and children, but I cannot help but live like all is right in the world.  I don’t know how much I can change in myself, but I have to live like I could change everything.  Let reality decide at the end what I could have and not have.

If I live in fear or anxiety, with constant awareness of all that is lacking, of all the news of the day and the fears of others, then I would be making the world more of the same because fear and anxiety of my own would manifest.  A misplaced focus will not make for a healthy individual, ready to rise to each occasion with a level head.  If there is something I can do, some way I can spend, something I can say, then let it be.  But a mind should be free and healthy, until each opportunity presents itself.

The best way to deal with reality is with the two things that make reality better: optimism and action.  It is not wrong to be a dreamer, when you are a dreamer that implements dreams.

We cannot help but to put out what we are.  A healthy individual will make the world a healthier place.  A realist will keep the status quo.  It is not wrong to dream, when we put people before ideas, and when we move our dreams into the physical realm.  In this way, reality can begin to resemble more of a symphony, than a collision.

Our thoughts design reality.  Our actions and possessions are extensions of what we can dream and do.  It is not foolhardy to reject reality, to tell it to try again, to adjust it to a useful and pleasant state.

Anger and anxiety come from a place of fear.  Sometimes reality makes us afraid, and in those instances, it is better to focus on any optimistic strand we can grab.  To cling to optimism is not cowardly or naive; it is the only way through, toward a reality on the end worth holding.

 

 

 

Identifying Behavior

Probably the best thing we can ever do in this life, is to identify our own pattern of behavior.  We can do this by examining our daily routines, noting time wasters/mood drains, and taking the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs test.  Knowing more about yourself is crucial, because figuring out how to help yourself is the best way that you can figure out how to help others.  If we join to others in unhealthy states, we will inadvertently cause problems.

1.  Daily routine.

Mathematically, the best way to improve life is to examine our daily routine, because everything happens day-to-day.  We like big changes, sudden results.  Humans are impatient.  But life is about the small things, in every way.  Life happens slowly enough that we get to feel all of our consequences, all of our choices, so it is best to carefully consider what we are actually doing day-to-day.  Mindfulness is a beautiful thing.  Intentionality is crucial to engineering.  Is every step something we want to be doing?  Are we going after a certain career or idea for reasons deep in our heart, or because someone made it sound like a great idea, whether a book or people?  Live YOUR dream.  Live YOUR experiments.  Find out what you’ve always wanted to find.  Don’t live in the footsteps of another.  In this way, you will never have regret or feel resentment.

2. House layout.  

The next thing to do is examine the layout of your house.  Is everything in the place that makes the most sense?  Are all of the things to prepare lunch (including place mats) near each other?  Is there a way you can get all your kitchenware into one or two drawers, so you’re wasting less time putting things back and taking things out?  Consider every step you make physically, thoroughly.  You only have to do this once per house, if done properly.

3.  Time drains.

The next thing to do in the center of your notebook is to consider time wasters.  For me, these are ways I get easily sucked in: browsing YouTube videos (especially music videos), taking part on psychology boards, planning too much.  If you can catch yourself as you’re falling into these, you can pull yourself immediately out.  Of course, you don’t have to, if you have a free day.  But if you need to be productive, it is crucial to identify the traps we fall into.  They’re different for each person.  Especially look at the traps in mood.  What brings you down?  How can you avoid it?  What steps are you going to take to pull yourself out, as you’re sinking lower?  What things in life do you love most, that make your day?

4.  Enneagram test.

The last thing to do is take the Enneagram test and examine the cons to your own personality.  Every personality has its cons.  Nothing in this life is all upsides.  Therefore, it is up to us to highlight our strengths, while eliminating or accepting our weaknesses.   We first need to know what those strengths and weaknesses are. You get to decide which weaknesses are important to your identity, your comfort, and which you’d rather not take forward.

In this century, it is the time to live life on our terms.  We cannot control all things, but we must live as if we can.  Let life sort out what we could not grab a hold of at the last.  For now, start small, build at the easiest starting point, and create the reality that fits your personality.  Live everything that you are inside, and everyone in your life benefits from the effortlessness and joy that follows.

 

 

 

Minimalist Kitchen Guidelines

These are the general rules I abide by, and these tips help to keep the kitchen as streamlined and enjoyable to cook in as possible.  Not only do these tips help to save money, but they also save you in time spent cooking.  Living like this adds to health and peace, and you can pick and choose the guidelines you want to live by, and personalize everything to your liking.

1. Soups are a splurge.

Soups take a lot to heat, to prepare and a lot of specialty ingredients or herbs.  Bone broths have naturally occurring MSG which can lead to migraines, as with a dairy base.  My life improved tremendously after I eliminated making soup at home for the most part, even though nobody loves dipping bread in soup more than me!  No microwave is necessary when my side is always rice. I still have a soup from time to time, but it’s as often as I bake: about once a month.

2. Crackers over bread.

It’s easy to overeat because sandwiches come in a specific size.  Crackers encourage you to eat until you’re full.  That’s what I love about eating at home: It encourages to listen to your body.  No predetermined amount.  Crackers are also better than bread because they don’t weigh on energy nearly as much and also store significantly longer and more compactly.  They don’t require a toaster either!

3. Water over everything else.

Filtered water, no beans, no sugar, no flavor, no ice, no lemon.  Wow, what a beautiful thing!  So simple.  So pure.  No more lugging in drinks for soups and with extra sugar that we don’t need.  In fact, sugar is linked to two of the biggest killers in the US currently: heart disease and cancer.   Better for our health, wallet, and most of all, storage space. Tea is the next minimalist drink after water because leaves store compactly.

4. Keep smoothies simple.

Can you get all smoothies down to 3-5 ingredients?  It’s worth a try.

5. Condense recipe cards.

I’d rather have 5-10 amazing recipes with one simple side like rice than many cookbooks that will collect dust and grease.  When you cook similar recipes again and again, the recipe card instructions can shrink.  Condensing cards makes preparing, shopping for ingredients, and drawing up shopping lists easy. When the food is high quality, you barely miss the variety. Most of us eat out of the house at least once a week, so we will still have novelty where it comes to food.

6. Baking, to a minimum.

I don’t eat bacon at home anymore, which I always fried in the oven to avoid splatters.  Pork in general wasn’t worth it for me, but if it is for you, not a big deal.  However, baked goods definitely weigh on mood and weight.  People that suffer from depression are often told to watch sugars and carbohydrates.  No sooner way to bring down mood and energy in a cubicle than to have bread at lunch.

Why not buy baked goods out if you must have them, instead of make them?  I cannot tell you how great it is to never have to clean the oven, to not store many ingredients only required to bake bread.  Microwaves and ovens barely used means efficient meal prep, quick cleaning, and very little kitchenware required. Baking requires so many ingredients and kitchenware.

7. Freezer goods, to a minimum.

Leftovers and mixed veg kept to a minimum is very nice. A clean freezer and fridge makes sure that nothing goes to waste. Fewer condiments mean greater health. The only thing I keep in the freezer are ingredients for smoothies and protein.  Jamming the freezer full will mean a lot of freezer clean-out; things will be forgotten and containers will warp.  Disregard this tip if you never have waste in the freezer or if you can already see everything easily.

By keeping ingredients few though, I don’t have to label everything:  Everything gets used in a reasonable time.

Simplicity rewards in surprising ways.  The closer we get to the core, the more meaningful and healthy life becomes. I call this effortless living.