Happiness… this idea of lifelong contentment has convinced avid lifestyle gurus, and people like myself to start purging their extra junk, stress, and dated consumerist values. A very public example of this quest for happiness is Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus. The two faces of The Minimalists travel around the globe sharing their stories of minimalism and inspiring others to pursue a more meaningful life. Their quest for happiness was completed by choosing to focus on their human ‘needs’ and reconnecting with the world around them. Surprisingly, our happiness doesn’t just turn up when we start getting rid of excess stuff, but resurfaces when we reconnect with the land and others around us too. This philosophy is known as ‘Human connection’ and ‘Tri Hitta Karana’ in Bali -- capturing the connection between us (and God), others, and nature.
After talking to Belinda, a Green School mum and founder of Wild Fitness, the idea of focussing on what we already have in the present seemed to have a direct link to our connection with our individuality, and understanding of self. Belinda told me about her love for fitness, and the simplicity in caring for our bodies. We don’t need to superfood drinks, protein bars wrapped in plastic nor thousand-dollar equipment to exercise with when we have natural tools around us. Making use of tree stumps on the field, bamboo from the side of the road, and a simple, balanced diet from our local farms as part of our fitness routines, we can take care of bodies just as well as any other Hollywood fitness craze says it can.
By being aware of our bodily needs and acting on those is already a sign of a connection with our body and self. And to much surprise, our bodies don’t usually ‘need’ expensive health drinks nor fancy workout equipment to exercise on.
Starting off my minimalist lifestyle was a struggle. I felt this tingling anxiety about the fact I might accidentally buy something that wasn’t essential nor added joy to my life. But mistakes had to be made to reach my goals -- as cheesy as it may sound. After some slip-ups in purchase choices, I’m still a minimalist, and so these mistakes are just part of my learning journey.
Those two questions: does it bring me joy? Is it essential to survival? Have what helped me eliminate and assess any additional things to my pile of possessions. Owning things that either hold immense joy and value or are necessary for survival has completely eliminated my original habit of hoarding objects that distracted me from my happiness and connection with others. The space that used to be accommodated by invaluable crap is now open for my relationships, and my connection to the people around me.
What blocks my focus in finding happiness is, simply, wanting -- whether it be a cleaner pair of converse, more wardrobe choice, or a sneaky Magnum ice cream. Unable to sit in the present and be grateful for what I already have inevitably cancels gratefulness and appreciation for the moment, and many things that add value to my life. There’s nothing wrong with my worn shoes nor the variety of clothes I already love and wear constantly!
Growing your own food, getting your hands in the soil, meditating outside -- perhaps the intention of human existence to be a part of nature, is proven to reduce stress and increase spirituality. In these times, too often society disconnects our lives with nature. Once we realise we are connected with the land, we are caring for ourselves and the Earth with conscious intention.
So, my advice: Find your connection to your self, others surrounding you, and Mother nature. The philosophy of Tri Hitta Karana can be manifested just by sitting outside, amongst the trees and grass, meditating, being in the present, and finding something to be thankful for everyday. Happiness is always found when you connect with the moment, and realise just how much goodness already surrounds you.