Bad Habits and Minimalism

Around June this year, the Foolish Bubbul was hopelessly addicted to a mobile game called Battle Cats. As soon as he got stuck with doing anything remotely difficult, the desire to colonize and plunder the world of Battle Cats would surface and his hand would dart to my phone out of pure instinct. Soon he realized that it was taking time away from more important things in my life and it had to be cut off. But it was hard. At one point he even downloaded a screen time app on my phone and asked friends and family to verify that his screen time goals were met everyday. Eventually, he did manage to break this habit, but the strange way it happened will definitely shock you!

What’s up guys it’s me Foolish Bubbul, here to present another stream of thought that I had recently. Hopefully this one makes sense, but I did come to realize that most of my thoughts don’t really come to any sort of conclusion. It’s still pretty hard for me to format these thoughts into a coherent blog post. Anyways.

Despite the dramatic cliffhanger, what happened really was quite simple: my screen broke. The data on my old phone couldn’t be carried over to my new phone, and I wasn’t willing to restart my entire campaign, so I just stopped playing it. I was pleasantly surprised at how little I missed the game as well. I thought I would be devastated, but I just felt a bit sad for 10 minutes then got back on with my life. What the heck? What other things do I spend my time on that could be easily dropped just like that?

Porn? 

Yea, definitely. I’ve lived a happy 16 years without watching that.

My phone? My computer?

This would be hard, but I probably could honestly. I tend to forget to bring my phone around with me from time to time anyways. There was also a week where I had to fix my computer screen and I had to borrow the computers in the library to do work. I actually felt way more productive, since it basically meant that I didn’t watch YouTube, anime, or Netflix.

My car? My bike? 

Well it would be inconvenient if I lose those, but I can still take public transportation everywhere. 

My left index finger? My mother’s life?

Uh… I mean I can probably learn to live with those after I adjust for a while?

Wait. I can technically not live with anything, but that just speaks to the adaptability and resilience of human nature. What I want to find is what stupid things am I spending time on now that I can live without, so I should first figure out what kinds of things I want to prioritize in my life, and then identify the things I spend time doing that are not related to those priorities.

This eventually led me to think about minimalism. It’s a small but growing movement that seems to be the antagonist of our capitalist consumer culture. Basically, as the name implies, people who practice minimalism try to minimize the amount of material possessions they own, so they can discover what things they truly care about, and spend more time on those. Some people decide to box everything up and move them out of the boxes only when they need them, then throw away everything left in the boxes at the end of a week. Others commit to throwing away one item everyday until they only have ten things left. 

I heard of this movement a while ago, and it did sound like a great way to cut through the bullshit and discover what you prioritize, but I never put it into practice because there was this tone to this movement that always put me off a bit. This time around, as I browsed around and discovered the luxurious minimalist home decor, I began to realize what was bugging me. It seems like this minimalist movement is only advertised towards people who are decently well off. Only a small percentage of people in the world can afford to throw away their stuff one by one, then walk around the street telling people how mindful of a life they live because they sold their house, moved in a trailer, and wear the same T-shirt everyday. 

I realized something interesting while I was thinking about my priorities, and that’s that it changes based on how long and how well I think I’m going to live. For example, if I am only going to live for one more minute, I might settle on hedonism and decide to snort a fat stack of cocaine (like that girl in the book Project Hail Mary). But if I am going to live for 50 more years, the cons that come with snorting cocaine now are going to greatly outweigh the benefits, so I might decide to prioritize something else. So if I want to find priorities for myself that are not self destructive, I have to first truly believe that I am going to live a nice long life. In the same way, the confidence and self assurance to be able to throw away one’s possessions is a requirement for one to make good value judgments about their values and priorities.

I am fortunate enough that I don’t have to worry about my finances. But for someone who does, minimalism might seem like just another new toy that the wealthy upper class came up with to distinguish themselves from the rest of the people. Why would you start throwing things away in your life when you are trying to save money to afford a better lifestyle?

But even after saying all that, I don’t think minimalism is a bad idea. I actually think everyone should try to embrace the minimalist mindset. Even if it is not practical for some people to throw away their possessions one by one, everyone can be more mindful of their priorities and orient their lives to reflect that. Also, priorities change all the time based on circumstances, so it will be ideal to check in with yourself from time to time and reestablish those priorities. If the minimalism movement was branded this way, I think I would be more ok with it.

But once you figure out habits that you do that don’t align with your priorities at the moment, how do you go about changing that? Seems like from my Battle Cats story that there might be very easy and scientific ways to go about this. Anyways, this post is getting a bit too long, so I’ll do a bit more research and then present my findings and thoughts in another future post. Stay tuned!

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