Subtract stuff, add questions

The key element of minimalism is not (for me, at least) to have as little stuff as possible.  It’s to have as much time as possible for more important things.  Minimalism or simple living is about priority, not possessions.

Since I stopped being so concerned with buying new stuff for the sake of having cool stuff, I’ve been able to learn more about myself and the world around me.  I have been learning about diet, and exercise, and healing, and more.

Where I used to have a non-stick pan because it was easier and because it’s what’s in the stores, I now have a cast-iron pan without the potentially toxic fumes that Teflon contains.  I have had to learn how to use it, but that’s a small price to pay for safer food consumption.

Where I used to eat eggs and toast every morning for breakfast, now I have a blender and I eat a handful of spinach in a smoothie to get more greens, because I know how important they are.  Do I still eat eggs? Yes!  Do I still eat toast? Sadly, no, because I learned about my body and its reactions to gluten.  Is it easier to just eat bread? You betcha.  But I can’t.  Now that I know better, I cannot continue to consume things that I know don’t work with my body.

It’s the same with learning about health and wellness.  I used to take pain medication for headaches.  Now, I barely get them because I am eating better and staying hydrated.  When I do get a bad headache, I can lay in a dark room with a cool washcloth on my forehead and it helps soothe the pain… without any ill effects on my liver.  Is it easier to pop a couple Tylenol? Of course.  But easier doesn’t mean better.

No matter what the issue at hand, you should take the time to research it until you are 100% committed either way.  Absorbing information from the media is not the way to truth and knowledge.  If you do not have the time to research the decisions you make – make the time.  Your health, safety, wellness, and peace of mind are at stake, and you should know exactly what you are doing and why.  Some topics people might research to learn more about include:

  • Dietary restrictions (by choice or by medical necessity)
  • Environmentalism (carbon emissions, recycling, shopping local, water waste, and more)
  • Food choices (organic vs. conventional, GMOs, local foods, general nutrition)
  • Medical decisions (researching side effects of medications, natural interventions instead of drugs, vaccination, etc.)
  • Parenting methods (“cry it out” method, attachment parenting, etc.)

Doing something because “that’s how it’s done” or because that’s what someone told you – even if it’s someone like your Doctor, your mother, or the President of the United States – is not good enough.

Examine your day – every single part of it – and discover something you don’t know about.  Google the ingredients in your toothpaste.  Research your favorite brand of cereal.  Read the list of side effects for your medication.  Find out where your food comes from.

If you learn something you don’t like, take steps to change it.  Ignorance is not bliss, and knowledge is power.  Never, ever let someone tell you that you cannot change something in your life – if you want to, and if you take the time and energy to learn, you can change.

5 thoughts on “Subtract stuff, add questions

  1. I just read this after reading about the premature birth of a baby, so my mind is still on birthing as I read this. I can recall a time I did what I assumed was normal, my first baby was a boy and it was expected that he would be circumcised at birth. I never questioned it. Then my second child was born and circumcision was no longer considered the thing to do and insurances were refusing to pay for it. It was only then that I asked myself why I hadn’t questioned the practice in the beginning.

    There are too many things in life that we do, just because it’s the way it was always done without questioning it.

    As for headaches, my grandfather taught me to tie a bandana tightly around my head where the pain was and lay down for a bit. The pressure helped me to relax and in no time I was fine. I never figured out if it was just relaxing that helped it to pass or if the pressure did the trick but either way it was better than taking something for the pain.

    1. I didn’t even think about circumcision with this… I’m opposed to it, but it was only recently that I began questioning it! I think only good things can come from questions and learning more about things as we go through life.

      I was talking with my mom today about the fact that her doctor told her to formula feed instead of breastfeed all her children – she never even tried breastfeeding, because it was never presented as a valid option. So disappointing 😦

      Thanks for the top on the headaches… that sounds effective!

      1. I completely understand your mothers experience, it seems only recently that the view has begun to sway back to feeding our babies naturally. My boys were born in 1984 an 1987, I was insistent that I would breast feed my children. In my view if I had to take a pill to dry up my milk there must be a reason for that milk to not want to go away, plus I didn’t want any pills in my body after having a natural childbirth. Everyone from my doctor to family and friends told me I was crazy, that formula could be made better than what our bodies could do. Only one person stood up for me and that was my grandfather who believed strongly that a woman’s breasts were there for the sole reason to nourish babies. I so wish I had had the support from others the way women do today.

        Now if only the way babies are born today would go back to a more natural approach.

        Oh and you are welcome. If you try it let me know how it works.

  2. Thanks for your well structured, thought provoking piece. I used to live the ignorance is bliss lifestyle, and have found that minimalism has helped me to question everything.

    A little note: I heard recently, via the Freakonomics podcast, that buying local food isn’t necessarily better for the environment. It seems counterintuitive, but its some food for thought (excuse the pun)

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