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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why decluttering one's life, one day at the time, could be the most important thing you will ever do - Part 2. Minimalist living - How this shapes my life every day (#5.-6.)

In the previous post of this Minimalism series, I explained how long-term shopping, meaningful spending, decluttering and downsizing add value to my life, one day at the time.
Here you can find two further elements that define what minimalist living is for me:

#5. Eating nurturing food of good quality on a daily basis. 
Whole foods, paleo diet, low carb, high carb, ketogenic diet, traditional cuisine, halal, kosher, your grandmother's recipes book...

The mileage may vary depending on someone's age, physical and health conditions, geographical area, blood type, religious or spiritual belief system.
In my opinion, every person should go for food that helps them to feel happy, fit and able to deal with their activities and with their lives in the best way possible. What works for someone could not work for someone else.

[Saisonal, fresh and tasty ingredients, 
perfect for a yummy salad bowl
Image credit: ISO Republic]

To me, this means:

- vegan gluten-free food all the time, green smoothies and raw food most of the time;
- homemade food most of the time, if I decide to cook or bake something;
- homemade salty popcorn and nuts as a snack;
- sugar and junk food only on rare occasions.
- water, green tea, homemade ginger tea, homemade turmeric tea and herbal infusions are my drinks of choice;
- no coffee;
- no alcohol.
If I am at a bar or at a party, I could order a Club Mate or a very girly vegan alcohol-free cocktail.

The new trend is to call these eating habits "clean eating" and clean eating restaurants are booming on both sides of the Atlantic. It doesn't really matter, to me, how people label this lifestyle. I know that it serves me well and that it makes me feel good.

German philosopher and anthropologist Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach famously said that we are what we eat; modern nutrition and body-hacking experts point out that this is only partially true: we are what we can actually digest, out of what we eat.

Die Speisen werden zu Blut, das Blut zu Herz und Hirn, zu Gedanken und Gesinnungsstoff.
Menschliche Kost ist die Grundlage menschlicher Bildung und Gesinnung. 
Wollt ihr das Volk bessern, so gebt ihm, statt Deklamationen gegen die Sünde, bessere Speisen. 
Der Mensch ist, was er isst.

(The doctrine of foods is of great ethical and political significance. 
Food becomes blood, blood becomes heart and brain, thoughts and mind stuff. 
Human fare is the foundation of human culture and thought. 
Would you improve a nation? Give it, instead of declamations against sin, better food. 
Man is what he eats)
Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach [1804-1872]
Die Naturwissenschaft und die Revolution
[Über: Lehre der Nahrungsmittel. Für das Volk. Von J. Moleschott]

In any case, what we eat become part of our bodies and eating lots of products that needed GMO-fodders, antibiotics, pesticides, and growth hormones to be produced means to me that those things too would become part of my body, since they don't magically disappear.

Dans la nature rien ne se crée, rien ne se perd, tout change.
(In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes)
Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier [1743-1794]

[What's in your fridge?
I hope it is something your grandparents 
would have had a name for, like these veggies]

I am going to have only one body for my whole life and I will have to carry it with me and to deal with it for many years to come, it is pivotal to me to use good quality "nutrition bricks" for my body.

Probably some of you could think that eating whole foods is going to be more expensive, and in the short run, you are right. Still, investing in good quality food is way less expensive than getting sick and being not able to provide for yourself any longer because of the poor quality of your diet, in the long run. I had to learn it the hard way, over ten years ago.
Again, thinking long-term here and opting for healthy food is an investment in my present and my future, and often an underestimated way to have an impact on society.

In the book "Toxic Food : Enquête sur les secrets de la nouvelle malbouffe" (2009), French investigative journalist William Reymond speaks up about the economic, environmental, social, and medical consequences and burdens of obesity, formally recognized as a global epidemic by the World Health Organization exactly twenty years ago, in 1997.

[Obesity, fast food extravaganza, lack of physical activity,
and last but not least being a smombie...
This is the future (the present?), as portrayed in
WALL-E (2008) by Andrew Stanton almost ten years ago]

Eating less and paying attention to the quality of the food we consume every day is not only a personal choice but also a very political decision.

#6. Knowing the difference between "wants" and "needs", and living accordingly.
On one hand, some things are a must have and are mandatory for survival, like water, food, shelter, sleep. Just think about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, here.
On top of it, while being part of a socially organized human group, other items are needed, like groceries, clothes, shoes, a bed (or whatever works for you when you want to get some rest), toothpaste and other toiletries, etc.
Still, you actually need only the basic version of these things, they don't have to be "deluxe". You need to brush your teeth, but you don't need an 8€ flavored toothpaste for that.

[Steampunk Azio's Retro classic,
Vintage typewriter mechanical keyboard in rose gold? 
Something I could want, sure thing, but I definitely don't need]

On the other hand, a number of things way bigger than what we tend to think are just nice to have.
Practicing mindfulness and learning how to know the difference between them and focusing on what really matters requires patience, consistency, guts, and effort and it is very liberating and empowering, over time.
This way, I can concentrate on the things and experiences I truly, absolutely need and that I see as a priority in my life, while freeing up money, energy and time for them, and this makes me treasuring and appreciating them even more, because I handpicked each of them and because I know that I consciously chose each of them over many other options available.

Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity. Luxury is the opposite of status. It is the ability to make a living by being oneself. It is the freedom to refuse to live by habit. Luxury is liberty. Luxury is elegance.
Coco Chanel

Sometimes, I can also get something that is nice to have, but that doesn't really change the game, as a matter of life and death: special vegan ice cream, a pair of elegant shoes like the ones you can see here, my favorite perfume, etc.

Owning fewer things, of great quality (no instant-fashion clothes, no fifty pairs of shoes any longer, no knick-knack and books en masse, just because I can) and learning day by day how to take good care of them and extend their life cycle helps me to stay focused, to save money in the long run and to enjoy a decluttered space and a clearer mind. Planned obsolescence is not cool, just wasteful.
As a nice reminder, you can think here about the five R of frugality:

#1. Refuse (to buy stuff in the first place)
#2. Reduce (the amount of stuff you use and "need")
#3. Reuse (what you already own)
#4. Recycle (what you already own, while either finding another purpose for it or giving it away or discarding it in an environmentally friendly way)
#5. Rot (what can't be used any longer, as the ultimate option, when nothing else works)


[Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Repair,
Re-gift, Recover, Recycle...
Powerful habits for rethinking your consumerism 
and, over time, your whole life]

Thanks for reading so far. I really appreciate you for this and I hope that you found it inspiring.
There are still two very important practical aspects of minimalist living, and the third part of this blog post is going to be dedicated to them. See you then!


Tags: Minimalism, Minimalism life, Minimalist principles, Alternative lifestyle, Decluttering

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