Last spring (2018) what seems to be ages ago, I had plans for the summer and everything came different and I ended up buying a tiny wooden boat:
I am the owner of the Caveman Lodge in Zanzibar and the Lodge turns out to run much better than expected. We are booked quite well and the management keeps it well maintained. I am on my way to passive income. Of course it is not passiv but asynchronous as I had put in enormous amounts of work before and keep getting paid even when I am not present.
This was not the first time for me to visit Sahara in Morocco and visiting M‘Hamid lost a bit of the excitement of the first few times. Once I see the first dunes in the distance, it feels more like coming home to friends.
Ever tried to dance tango on your own? Difficult, right?
Not only is it difficult alone, but also when you don’t harmonize with your partner and/or one is trying to lead by pressure.
It is a silent cooperation that is based on a set of agreements. You set some boundaries for your joined experience and then you dance in harmony. It makes sense to decide beforehand if the dance will be polka or tango.
Most coachings are about reaching the next possible goal. Breaking it down in small reachable steps and setting the mindset to get started.
I am not interested in that. I don’t want to get paid for helping my clients to stay ordinary. I am looking for the extraordinary in you. I want to empower you to dream big and turn your dreams into your truth.
In case you have been following my journey to move my boat into the water and start sailing you may be aware that it did not start as planned.
stuck on land
I thought that I would just buy an old boat, work on it, water it and off I sail. Unfortunately that concept of restoring and reusing old stuff does not aline with everybody. It definitely did not resonate with the owner of the marina, where the boat was on dock when I bought it.
I almost turned into a sanding machine myself over the last weeks. Fortunately the sanding came to an end, the underwater ship is painted in 9 layers of primer and copper antifouling, the deck is nice and white again, the cabin top is varnished wood and most of the yellowness turned into nice mahogany color again.
In fact, I went out for a sail. Just for the fun of it. For the very first time in my life I just went sailing… with nothing else in mind than going for a sail.
I knew I want to travel the world. I knew I want to go sailing. I knew I want to go South.
I recently found out that I want to travel as light as possible… even on the water. I was looking for a boat that is as small as possible and still be safe enough to do some serious sailing. After my experience with Emma, our 45 year old Mercedes Camper Van, I knew I want to travel with a boat that is easy to maintain, wherever I am on this planet.
Time changes! All the time!
As one second and one moment always connects to the next one, life feels like a constant flow.
On the one hand it actually is and on the other hand all we have is NOW. Decisions are always taken now. Although you can take the experiences from the past into account it remains the moment of now that you take your decision.
As I am writing this I am sitting on the top of a mountain in northern Ethiopia (3300m). The town nearby is Lalibela and worldwide known for its wonderful churches that were carved out of the mountain. Some carved more than a thousand years ago.
I am in Africa now for more than two month and it is still amazing. The Lodge is ready for the season, we have guests, food is great and people are enjoying their time with us. I set up my work routine, am productive most of the time and go swimming with the dolphins or coral snorkeling every once in while.
Sun is shining every day and life is good.
Nevertheless sometimes it is hard to get up and focus. When every day is about as beautiful as the other it sometimes is very hard to get up and go the extra mile today. What it teaches me, is that it is not about how hard or easy or awesome your circumstances are, but only about what you make of it in your mind.
As I am writing this on Christmas Eve, I am sending you all my best wishes, sunshine and my most positive thoughts. Wherever you are, whatever you do… it is your own decision how you perceive the world.
You decide about your happiness. Keep that in mind and enjoy the season!
This is one of last year participants personal story about the sahara experience. I love it and just in case you want to find out about yourself, let me know.
Ever heart the saying: “Send him to the desert’?” Where that might come from?
When I told my family and friends that I was about to walk through the desert, I was questioned: „Why would anyone walk so far?”, „Isn’t that meaningless?”, “That’s totally dangerous!”. When I added that I was about to go there because of work, they just felt pity for me and I already had the feeling that the trip was going to be worth it.
Actually I did not come back as a better person. I just remained myself.
I spent two of my days in desert on a camels back, riding or whatever you would call it. I think, it’s no difference if you sit in a small dinghy in a storm on the Ocean or suffer completely exhausted on such a desert ship longing for home. It rocks like hell.
I have a job in which a project is chasing the other and my rest periods on the weekends had not been sufficient anymore. While my mind was still in the last project, I already had to deal with the next. Nothing unusual nowadays. I’m already doing this job for quite some years. I changed the company lately. No big deal, I thought, but still it felt so damn wrong. I had the feeling that I’m not happy with my boss and it won’t work out well.
The desert trip, if I stay with this topic, was a way for me, to let all the thoughts that rushed through my mind come and go. I had the time and the space to think a thought from beginning to end and learn to accept. That worked for me.
I thought I need the full five days to deal with myself, but after two days of thinking I had it figured out and then the heat hit me, almost knocked me out. So I spent the next two and a half days learning yet another dimension of the desert on the camels back. I did not expect that to happen. Although I felt much better, I was now separated from the group. Well, it was a strike down by the desert.
It wasn’t before I was back home that I realized how much that small corner of the world had inspired and enriched my life.
There is so much to tell about diversity, experiences with nature and his own body, with people who just show up out of the nowhere and disappear back into the desert, about habits that are important to know, about communication and …
All this is accompanied in the wonderful, personal and professional way of Florian!
The change of the year is only a randomly chosen number or a change of it to be exact. Nevertheless people like to stop at crossroads or signs to look back and think about the route ahead.
Same works with the new year. How did the last year go? What are the goals for the coming? We decide ourself wether our look back is a positive or a negative one. No matter how bad the last year was, it could have been even worse and no matter how good it was, it could have even been better. It is just a question of your point of view.
That lets me focus primarily on the good things of the last year. To be thankful that it happened to me. If I do, all the things that didn’t work out that well appear in a much brighter light and it is easier for me to see them as a hint for the future. What could i do better the next time. Grieve doesn’t help.
For the future I have tons of new ideas and sometimes its hard to me to keep the focus. If you know that, it might help to choose only one important thing to change or to achieve. That will help you to focus and it will increase the chances for success. Most of the times the clear focus on getting one single task done will change a lot of little things around your goal as well you’ll change so much more than you first thought.
So, focus on the positive and plan for one special achievement in 2016. The rest will follow. Good luck and all the best for 2016
Just the other week, I met Jörg, a person who gave me an answer to the question: what it means to do something for the first time. More than 10 years ago he left his good paying job in Germany, got on his bike and hit the road South. I met him on a remote island in South East Africa in an old, long forgotten Portuguese town, many call it a hidden secret in the Indian Ocean.
What, where, why? As you may have read in earlier posts, I am traveling in Africa for a bit. During the Tanzanian elections which could turn out to become a chaotic catastrophe for the country and Zanzibar in special (which is another story to write about), we headed South into Moçambique to get an impression of that beautiful land of hidden mysteries.
While coming from Europe and Morocco already seemed to be out of different time and space but Tanzania is even more so. Surprisingly there is another huge gap to Moçambique. A country which not only had to fight against colonial rule but also against apartheid influences from South Africa and Rhodesia. Those countries were giving its best to destabilize the country which let to decades of civil war. That war didn’t end before the nineties when the devastated country had to be rebuilt from scratch, most of the cities, villages, industry and colonial heritage lying in ruins.
After flying in to Pemba, we stayed for two days, being very surprised that nothing has changed over the last 4 years while decay seemed to be in even further progress now. We left with a local bus which, like all other busses in Mocambique and for no obvious reason had to leave at 4:30 in the morning. Even more frustrating than the need to be at the bus station so early was the fact that the first hours the bus was driving around the town to hopefully pick up some more passengers. Busses in Mocambique go without schedule and if you really need to be somewhere that day you better be there at 4:30 because you never know when they are full and actually leave. What followed was a five hour backcountry overland drive. Half the 120km on a tarmac road, the other half on dirt tracks. Only very few settlements with only few houses each laid on our way, the whole land being dry as a bone, all the trees leafless and no grass to be seen anywhere.
Finally we reached a little place at the ocean or lets say where the ocean was supposed to be. We arrived at low tide and except for water we only saw mangrove forrest, which was crucial for us since we wanted to catch a ferry. That meant to sit down and wait for the water. Our ferry was a local dow that was to be sailed to our destination, together with a motor bike and some other 30 people on board. The sea better be calm, I thought. After another hour on the boat we reached the little island of Ibo, part of the Quirimba island in Quirimba national park in Northern Moçambique. Ibo used to be the Portuguese capital of Northern Moçambique and was an important trading post on the Portuguese spice route. At least until the harbor and Capital was moved to Pemba. Afterward the world forgot about Ibo, I seems. A place full of ancient ruins, forts and houses among those. A sand covered main road, with sidewalks left and right, nonetheless. A piece of lost paradise, if you can find it.
Some of these ancient houses found a loving new owner who built themselves something out of ruins, literally.
And that is how I met Jörg.
Jörg who took his bike 12 years ago together with a friend of his and drove South. Through Balkan, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania to Moçambique, later all the way to South Africa. The tour took them two year of traveling with some time spent at different places. On this route they discovered Ibo and while spending some time here, they saw complete Solar Eclipse and fall in love with this place. They knew they had to come back. Which they did, after completing their tour, having covered more than 12.000km by bike. Another two years later. They bought one of the completely destroyed ruins at the place. The one with the biggest trees around, two of them standing right in front of their house and they called it: Miti Miwiri http://www.mitimiwiri.com/n/ (two trees) or on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Miti-Miwiri-112186838817416/, nowadays one of the finest places in the area. It took them another two years to finally restore the building and have it up and running.
I guess that is how you break with all the conventions and just follow your heart. They didn’t do anything anymore, because they were expected to do so. All they did, they did only because they wanted to do it and on that road they found a passion and love to a place and decided to built something up. Still, friends and family called them nuts, now they go there for vacation. Sure, they had and have their hard times but they followed their heart and live their dream.
I wrote a blog article about creating routines in Zanzibar earlier this year. I wrote about my struggles finding my way back home while I was living in Stone Town for a month. Although I tried my best to take the same routes every single day, I got lost as soon as my mind was absent for a minute. Now I visited Stone Town again:
First thing to do after I got there was to go for a coffee in my favorite Café. It’s called Stone Town Café and is one of the very few places where you can find good fresh ground coffee on Zanzibar. Afterwards I went for the Dalladalla place to get a ride to Kizimkazi in South Zanzibar. That was one of the same routes I used to take in January and guess what. I did not get lost. In between people tried to tie me up in conversations about selling me… whatever… a trip to the moon and I kept on walking without paying attention and made my way without any doubt. At one point I woke up from daydreaming and was not so sure where I was. I decided to just keep walking until something looked familiar. Soon it did and I was exactly on track.
Funny that I would not get lost although I had no idea where I was. Somehow somewhere in my unconsciousness the way home was saved. On full automatic mode so to say.
I read and wrote a lot about creating habits and routines this year, but to experience on my own again how powerful habits can be left me speechless.
Scary on one hand to see that all the negative routines we accumulated throughout our lives are leading us that much. Good to know on the other hand that as soon as we change a routine to a positive one it can be as strong and as automated as the previous negative one.
Just keep in mind, it takes a constant daily routine of acting always the same on the same triggers. Scientists say, it takes from a week or two up to some months, to create enough new connections in your brain to create a new routine. In Stone Town it actually took me almost ten days although I was practicing to memorize the route several times per day. And I didn’t have to rewrite any old behavior.
If you have any behavior/routine that you want to get rid of, make yourself a good plan to manage the change. Remember you can’t just stop it. A routine is always triggered by something:
1. Find the trigger so you know what makes you start your behavior. Then you can become aware of it when the trigger happens. You will be able to foresee the undesired habit even before it happens.
2. Think of a new behavior that you would like to do when the trigger appears.
3. Make sure the desired behavior would be good for yourself and your future self (just ask yourself that question and you should think a very direct YES without any buts)
4. Bring yourself in a situation when the trigger appears and actively act with your new behavior. Test it several times so you know what to do.
5. If you fail when the trigger appears in real life, make sure you know you failed, go back to point 3.
6. Actively work on it for at least some weeks.
7. Do it daily!
Good luck and enjoy the better version of yourself.
One of the most inspiring people blogging about simplicity and minimalism is Joshua Becker from Arizona. He recently published some statistics for the US that might be interesting for European readers as well since we have the same tendency. I am posting an excerpt of Joshuas list that was originally posted here.
There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (The Telegraph).
3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).
The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually (Forbes).
While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).
American homes have more television sets than people. And those television sets are turned on for more than a third of the day—eight hours, 14 minutes (USA Today).
Some reports indicate we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago (The Story of Stuff).
Currently, the 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe account for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent (Worldwatch Institute).
Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today).
Shopping malls outnumber high schools. And 93% of teenage girls rank shopping as their favorite pastime (Affluenza).
Women will spend more than eight years of their lives shopping (The Daily Mail).
Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items.The research found we lose up to nine items every day—or 198,743 in a lifetime. Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork top the list (The Daily Mail).
Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal).
That I owned so much stuff over the last years is one part of the story, that I owned so much stuff I didn’t really need is the other. What about you?
I love to own things. In my past I always wanted to own everything that somehow seemed interesting to me. I sometimes still have the tendency to do that. Most of the times I nowadays realize that it is not important to me to own stuff, but to actually use stuff.
So more and more often, before buying I ask myself the following question: Do I have any other possibility to use what I am aiming to buy other actually buying it. Often I come up with an idea of trying it out for a few times and then letting go again. Sometimes it works just fine to share stuff with somebody else. Sometimes I buy already used stuff because, it will be used the same the minute I unbox it.
I also buy things that I now I will hand on to somebody else and/or I am going to resell. That would even be better when I already bought it used. That’s almost like sharing.
Sharing is the new owning!
But, you know… sometimes there are these things that I just want to have. I am sure I am going to use it every day. For me those things have to be according to the BUD principle.
BUD: beautiful – useful – durable
I love beautiful things. I want my things to be beautiful. If resources are used and people put their time into producing something that I will spend my money on it shall be worth the effort and be something beautiful.
I also don’t want to carry a burden with me either. Stuff I own has to be useful. There are definitely many beautiful things that are not useful to me. They might be useful to somebody else. If I can’t find a reason why they are useful to me, they are meant for somebody else.
I want it to be durable. Why? If something is not durable and basically produced for the trashcan I don’t I want to buy it. I don’t want to own garbage.
the simplicity of happiness on swiss trails
A free day to me is a day in nature, in the mountains, on meadows, on my own feet with a rucksack on my back and depending on the season with trail or snowshoes on my feet and sticks in my hands.
Already days before, I think about that day. Where I will go, which mountain peak I am going to explore and which trail am I going to show my shoes that day. The anticipation is big and that very day my feet tingle in the morning… soon I will be up and running.
The scenery especially if there is good sight is breathtaking. The pure view enlightening and every change of perspective offers something new and thrilling for my eyes to see and my heart is yelling: I want to see this mountaintop and want to walk on that meadow.
Infinite freedom. Starting at the threshold of my home trails are passing and they lead me to others trail and those to even more.The trail network spans thousands of kilometers passing lakes and going along huge mountainranges. Unlimited possibilities for small trailruns, bigger trailruns, extensive hikes, and soo much more…
A paradise to me! And so simple – not much equipment needed, no big deal… but lots of space and time for me and us.
It can be so simple to find out, what makes you happy, but way too often, it’s just so difficult.
I just spent my last week in Sahara with the members of „sahara experience III“. My intention was and is to show others how different life can be. Even I forget, that everything I do in my life, I do by free choice. In almost every case I have the choice to do something different or to not do it at all. I just have to live with the consequences.
I focus on all the little things me and others keep complaining about. Situations that we would so much like to be different. I try to remind myself that it is still my own choice to react the way I want to.
What I keep forgetting though, is how much we managed to keep our world in its boundaries in the western world. We can barely imagine a power cut, not to talk about anything severe. In my everyday life, the worst thinghappening to me is that I lose my internet connection. I rarely think about other people on this planet, who don’t live in such a technological world and how they have to deal with the powers of nature.
After we arrived in M’Hamid, a week ago, the sun was still shining and then the weather turned slowly into a heavy sandstorm that day. I still thought that this was a one day sandstorm that will disappear again after some hours and well, fortunately it did.
Unfortunately it came back every day with one big difference. From the following morning on we were in the desert and headed directly into the direction the wind (and all the sand) came from. I had a feeling that I normally don’t have. I was helpless. I hated the sand in my eyes, I hated the sand in my nose, I hated the sand in my lungs. All I wanted to do was hide from it, but I couldn’t. I had to move against it. Resting didn’t really help either. Preparing food was like playing in the sand. In the night the sandstorm slowed down, to come back every now and then leaving loads of sand in my sleeping bag. Even when I woke up, I was chewing on sand. Nothing helped but to become stoic. Just keep on moving and hope for the storm to settle down. On the evening of the third day it settled down. The sky cleared up and we had the first night with stars shining. In the end, we had a remarkable experience and could enjoy the clear nights with music around the fire even more. We knew that it wasn’t for granted.
I suppose this is the way the world goes round. It’s not always and everywhere sunshine. Sometimes problems occur and you have to go through hard times. It doesn’t help to hide from your problems. That won’t make them better. The only way to deal with them is to face them and work your way through. Once they lie behind you, it is even nicer to enjoy the smooth times. You deserve it because you made it through and that feels good.
If you manage to think about that, you will live a happier life.
I hope, that, when everything runs smooth for me, I will always remember not to take that for granted and that I’ll always be thankful for the moment.
Now I am enjoying Taghazout in Morocco for one week. No sandstorm and nowhere to walk. Just time to relax, organize, plan ahead and write.
I am thankful to be here.
Inspired by one of the most popular writers on the topic of simplicity, Leo Babauta I decided to keep it like him concerning copyright. Whatever I write, I write it because I want it to be read. All the words I am using are not my own anyway. I didn’t make them up, they are your words as well. Somewhere I’ve heart them before. I just put them into another compilation. So go ahead and use them.
I hereby release my copyright on my content.
You won’t need to contact me, if you want to use my words. Use it however you want! Email it, share it, reprint it with or without credit. Change it around if you like and publish it. That’s OK. Credit and payment
While you are under no obligation to do so, I would appreciate it, if you give me credit for any work of mine that you use, and ideally, link back to the original. If you feel like spreading a copy of content you needed to pay for, I’d appreciate payment. I’d prefer to get paid for my work but if you want to share it with friends, you have every right to do so. Why I’m releasing copyright
I’m not a big fan of copyright laws anyway, especially as they’re being applied these days by corporations, used to crack down on the little guys so they can continue their large profits.
Copyrights are often touted as protecting the artist, but in most cases the artist gets very little while the corporations make most of the money.
I think, in most cases, the protectionism that is touted by “anti-piracy” campaigns and lawsuits and lobbying actually hurts the artist. Limiting distribution to protect profits isn’t a good thing.
The lack of copyright never hurt Leonardo da Vinci when it comes to images such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, or the Vitruvian Man. It’s never hurt Shakespeare. It might have never really hurt any artist, although I don’t know for sure.
And while I’m no da Vinci or Shakespeare, I don’t know if that is going to work for me. If someone feels like sharing my content on their blog, or in any other form for that matter, that seems like a good thing for me. If someone wanted to share my work with 100 friends, I feel like that is a good thing to me.
And if someone wants to take my work and improve upon it, as artists have been doing for centuries, I think that’s a wonderful thing. If they can take my favorite posts and make something funny or inspiring or thought-provoking or even sad … I say more power to them.
The creative community only benefits from derivations and inspirations.
This isn’t a new concept though. Of course, and I’m freely ripping ideas off here. Well, that’s what this post is about, right?
And yes, I have heard the following argument before: But … but … they’re stealing from you! **
And I can only tell you:
**You can’t steal what is given freely. I call this sharing, not piracy.
Inspirations: Zen Habits by Leo Babauta, Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig; and GNU by Richard Stallman
Honey and bees are such a nice metaphor. Bees dedicate their whole life to the best for the community. Bees in the summer collect nectar for honey, so their successors in the wintertime won’t starve. Only if every part of the bee community fulfills its own mission the hive can survive and thrive.
As it is such a fragile system the bees live in and it is similar in the world where they find their food. In their direct surrounding they need to find flowers that produce nectar and pollen. If it is too cold, the bees can’t fly, if it is too rainy flowers might not open and the bees can’t fly. If it becomes to hot the flowers may wither. Even in an all natural world it seems as a wonder that bees survive throughout the years.
As it happened to be I started to keep bees on myself in 2003. It fascinated me from the first moment I opened a beehive. What I had to learn while keeping bees is that nowadays life became even harder for bees. When you have the possibility to look into such a fragile structure as a bee hive, you have a direct mirror for what is going on around you.
Farmers are growing only one crop so bees starve once this crop has no more flowers. Since every part of the countryside was turned into farmland. Crops are heavily treated with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. No other plant than the desired crops are growing anymore.
Furthermore the applied chemicals can be found in wax and honey. If you are truly concerned about collecting a clean and precious bee products you have to worry about nature as well. On top of these problems, scientists imported a bee mite from Asia in the last century. This mite is decimating bees around the globe and industrial beekeepers started to implement chemical pharma products until the mites became resistant 10 years ago.
This shows me that it might not be healthy to engineer and to try to improve nature. Concerning the bees it might be the best, to reduce stress for them as much as possible and give them time to adapt to the mites, which means less honey for us. Bees in Asia are coping with it as well. The more we give our bees the right to reproduce as they like the more we might give them the chance to survive. I try to leave as much honey as possible to my bees and let them on their own for most of the year. That reduces the amount of honey I can collect per year but I believe this adds up to its superior quality.
These principles might apply to nature in general as much as for dealing with people especially our kids as well.
After my last post I received an email from one of my (now former) subscribers of the newsletter. He wrote, that he feels very sorry, but that I was fundamentally wrong with my approach of simplicity. What matters is „the one true essential“ in life. The question that I should ask is “what matters most in life? But I ask myself: Is there only „one way“ of living life the right way to be happy?
Just in case you are wondering because it might seem as if I am preaching the ‚one way to happiness‘… I am not. I am only suggesting potential ways. I tried many ways for myself and want to share what I experienced. I heard through others about their approach to happiness and found much truth in what they said. I saw that the struggles they had, applied to my life as well. So I tried different ideas from different people and I am creating my own mixture for happiness now. And you can witness it while happening.
At the moment I can say: I have never been as much in peace with myself as I am now.
And still I know it’s still a long way to go.
It is remarkable that I heard about these concepts long ago in my teens when I tried to find what life is all about. But I did not want to listen. I thought there is so much more in the world. I didn’t want to be in peace with just myself. I thought, whenever I reach the point that I can do everything in the world I could ever dream of, I am free and then I will be in peace with myself.
And while I grew up more and more (material things) showed up in my life. I wanted to have them all.
Today I understand that it is not enough to read about these ideas. They have to grow from the inside. From your own understanding. That is why my ideas are just offerings.
One day frustration hit me. To put it simple: More stuff didn’t mean more happiness to me.
So I tried to focus on the basics of life, but I couldn’t focus on what I really wanted. There were just too many options. My life was pure procrastination.
To find the basic meaning in my life does not stand in contrast to living ‚simplicity‘ and to declutter my stuff.
The more I gave up, the more:
I discovered in my life.
We are human beings not machines. We are able to perform, create and manage but above all we have a soul and feelings. The more we focus on doing, producing and functioning the more we lose our inner nature, the interaction with others and we end up suffering.
For example, after I have given away a lot of my possessions and started traveling intensively I deeply understood how connected everything on earth is. It made me realize that I don’t want to live on more resources than can be reproduced during my lifetime. I understood that all I am consuming is just borrowed from the next generation and shared with present generations. I have the desire to focus on more spirit and less stuff.
To sum this up, it is not about the right way to live a happy life. It is about showing ways to declutter your life so much than you can discover the essential in your life.
I stumbled upon this concept about 1 1/2 years ago. I was questioning myself and life in general and thought about what I would really like to do. I came up with my adventure idea: Sahara by foot. Special about walking is that you have to carry all of your stuff yourself. Since there are certain limits, I had to focus on what was really necessary.
During that research I found out about other people living the concept of minimalism/simplicity. I liked it, because they were so much happier than ever before. It seemed so simple. Just get rid of all the stuff you don’t need and minimize your stress. Only later I had to find out that most of the things are connected to beliefs and it became really hard to let go of things I actually didn’t need.
After I came back from a three weeks trip in the desert I was overwhelmed with all the stuff I had a home. At that time I decided to take this approach seriously. Since I just moved to my girlfriend I decided to bring only the stuff I really needed. All the things I touched were questioned: When did I use them the last time? Did I miss them at any time?
In most cases the answer was quite simple: NO.
I had two or three eBay auctions running at all times and I gave away the rest for free.
One of the websites that I discovered at that time and which posts I am always reading are the minimalists and they describe their 21 days journey towards minimalism:
Here is a quote out of their journey. Have a look as well:
It is amazing to realize that we often don’t need the things we think we need. And it’s equally amazing to think about what the true cost of these things are. The dishwasher from yesterday is one example. But everything we buy has extra costs associated with them, not just the price on the price tag. They cost you money, which cost you time to earn. They cost you more time to take care of (e.g., wash your car, clean your furniture, etc.). They take up extra space in your house or apartment, which costs you more money because you need to procure extra square footage just to hold all of your shit.
The things we think we need…
That electronic gadget you wanted so bad six months ago? You know, the one you don’t ever use. What’s that? It’s in a junk drawer or a closet? Really?
Or how about that shirt you just “had to have” last season? How’s that working out for you? Couldn’t live without it, right?
That new car? Great, huh? How many more payments left? Oh, really? Just 42 more? At least it has leather seats that warm your ass on your long drive home from your eleven hour workday, the workday you’re forced to return to tomorrow so you can continue to make those car payments.
The bottom line? It’s all just stuff. And you don’t need it.
But because you have it doesn’t make you a bad person; it just means that your priorities are out of whack. Believe me, we know; our priorities have been out of whack for quite some time. But our journey into minimalism has helped us re-prioritize; it has helped us focus on what’s important. That pair of shoes you put on layaway just isn’t important.
Sometimes I make plans and everything turns out to different.
I left Germany yesterday and expected to be in Sahara today. Well, what I did not expect was so much rain. All routes going south are closed. No busses are driving at the moment. I met some Germans that were lost. Helped them to find their Hotel. Over closed roads and broken bridges, went to a small surfers village north of Agadir, met somebody whom I will help with his website for his hostel and therefor can stay free of charge. I will proceed to the desert when the road are open again. My lesson once again: take it easy and it will turn out good.
I am on my way into the desert again. After the heaviest rainfall in southern Morocco that people can remember it seems as if the desert is not only green, but as if I will be able to go for swim. The situation will be something absolutely new and I am excited what I will learn out of this trip.
Traveling by foot in Sahara is an act of meditation and focus on the easiness of life. When waking up, you can neither go to the kitchen nor to the next bakery. If you want a coffee you have to make fire first.
When you walk, there is no distraction. Landscape changes only as fast as you walk. That will be about the fastest movement you will see during the whole trip, unless you try to catch a wild donkey, which I tried last time. I tell you. They are way faster than you expect.
All you do in the evenings is stare in the fire or to the stars. And you can tell or listen to stories. Last time we heard the following question one night: How do you put a giraffe into fridge in three steps? Do you have an idea? Write the answer in the comments.
As this trip is relying so much on simplicity I tried to to realize the most simple packing list I ever travelled with. I am carrying the following with me:
My plan is to fly directly to Tansania after the Saharatour and travel through east Africa for two week. After that I will stay on the Islands of Sansibar for Christmas, New Years and my birthday. I want to live simple, run a lot and find my time for writing. All of that under the African sky and in front of the Indian Ocean. It is a test I will write about…
Why oh why did we choose Emma? We had two good paying jobs in Berlin. A really nice apartment in Kreuzberg that was not only good situated but also calm, with a southside balcony, a view over Schlesischer Busch and Treptower Park. We were able to combine all good sides of city live. Everything in walking distance with an idyllic view. Organic and regional supermarkets with international restaurants. Friends with lots of activity possibilities. Why would somebody give that up?
Well, I can tell you at least why we gave that up almost a year ago. Both of us love traveling and we have already seen a bit of the world. We like Berlin and we enjoyed our life there. But we had one feeling in common. The more we saw of the world, the more we had the feeling that most of it remained unseen. It became obvious to us that we wanted more. Life is so extraordinary and has so many variations around the world that sticking to one place for rest of our lifes felt like a limitation.
Life is a journey. It’s about travelling, it’s about moving forward. Time doesn’t stand still. Time is always now, but a twink of an eye later it is past and the future lies ahead and everything is changing. The thought to preserve a status quo is an illusion. Time moves on. The moment that you truly don’t move on anymore as a person you are dead. We are not yet and want to decide about our life, not fitting into a system because others may think that it should be like that.
This massive wish for personal freedom made us want to break free and enjoy as much freedom as possible. Freedom means to be as less dependent on others as possible. Most people I know (including me) are dependent on certain financial situations. Made commitments in the past and have to deliver nowadays. Having ongoing contracts, be it with your landlord, your telephone company, your employer is also limiting your personal free choice.
Therefore we took four decisions:
1. Quit ongoing contracts (apartment, telephone, internet) and switched to an RV and prepaid contracts
2. Quit our jobs respectively changed to a halftime
3. bought a historic (analog) car without IT systems, so we could repair everything independently
4. We started travelling and worked on the road
It was incredible to experience how much time I had after leaving my comfort zone. So much of the stuff we do during a day was dominated by routines. Although I thought that I was even quite flexible before it but found it amazing how much you win when you have less stuff to care about.
With a lack of distraction it becomes obvious to me what I dislike. Much of that I left behind. With little left to disagree with my mind focused more and more on what I really love, really value.
Having this in mind I keep thinking about to achieve more of this for myself in the future.
The more I see, the more I know how little I know.
If you believe that the big things matter most go on a long journey with an old car. I believe that the little things define the quality of our life. When we bought our car to go live on the road and travel a lot, we thought a lot about what car to buy, but once on the road, other things became important to us.
Looking back I have to admit that I had absolutely no clue about cars when we bought Emma. I could test whether it is running or not. Once we were on the road much more mattered.
How fast does it go?.
How much gas does it use at which speed?
How loud is it inside at which speed?
It did not only matter anymore if everything was running when we started. Now it mattered:
How often do they have to be replaced?
How easy is it to buy spare parts?
How easy are they to change on the road?
We wanted to have water in our RV to be more independent, but on the road it was important:
How much water do we use per day?
How much water fits in the car?
How do we get new water when traveling?
How easy is it to fill up the water?
You see, that list can go on for ever. More important than these question concerning our car and our travel became the details. The big decisions in our life mark the direction we move, but as written before the details define the quality. I use these questions over and over in my coachings. Often it is not so important what you do but how you do it. What are the things you love doing. If you like conversation, does it mean in person, in meetings, in presentations, on the phone, written? Do you prefer that people come towards you or do you want to start the conversation? Do you prefer to listen more or talk?
Similar to these questions you can try to find out the details about every aspect in your life, private and professional. It might help you to examine why exactly you like some situations and others not.
When you try to remember a situation that you want to examine, try to rebuild it in your memory and then focus on the details. You rebuild it with remembering and paying attention all your 6 senses.
What do you see? Anything else? Black/white or color? Which color? Bright or soft? Anything else…?
What do you hear? Anything else? Loud or soft? Continuing or repeating? Anything else?
What do you smell? Anything else? Sweet? Fruity? Anything else?
What do you taste? Bitter? Sour? Anything else?
What do you feel? Where do you feel it? Warm or cold? Pulsating or steady? Anything else?
Now you, have everything at hand to change the details for future situation. Pay attention to it. It is not only important what job you have or what vacation you do. It is always about HOW you do it
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