Matt Madeiro at Three New Leaves recently released a free ebook called Simpler. It’s a practical, to the point guide on simplifying your life along with plenty of personal anecdotes on how he did it himself.
I met Matt when I emailed him to share my love of coconut related product (coconut oil, coconut water, coconut milk, etc) as a means to get healthier. He was kind enough to remind me not to discount coconut flakes (what was I thinking?), and to talk more about primal fitness, minimalism, and blogging as a whole. He also knows how nervous I was about blogging and just being honest and speaking the real truth about who I am.
Until recently, I thought being vulnerable was overrated, now I know it’s the opposite. It was largely his complete openness about anything I wanted to ask and his thoughtful responses that pushed me along to the next steps in my journey. Now that initial anxiety seems so incidental.
Those experiences showed Matt and his resource Simpler are good case studies of leading by example. See for yourself by checking out his post on how he got in the best shape of his life eating simpler. And while eating bacon and butter and loads of other stuff. Fair warning, it will annoy you if you’re leading a low-fat, low-carb, high cardio work-out lifestyle.
One of the things I admire about Matt as both a person and a writer is his overall approach. You get the feeling he’d stay up with you all night and talk about your annoying problems over some beers (or coconut milk) and never admit that you’re boring him to tears. His approach, like his ebook, is simple but that’s not to say there aren’t some complex strategies in there. Like ditching conventional wisdom about eating at the door.
Fat isn’t necessarily bad, nor does it necessarily make you fat. You can get ripped without a gym membership or hour-long workouts. Fasting can be extremely beneficial when done correctly. We can eat simpler and work out simpler and have a rocking bod. For those who aren’t all that interested in the simpler approaches to fitness and health, Simpler has plenty of actionable steps to immediately take regarding your piles of crap lying around. Or how to make more time and make the time you’re using, especially online, meaningful and useful.
Along with the fitness and health sections, the part that resonated with me the most is how to negotiate your memories. I am the kind of person who has a very detailed memory with an immediately accessible reserve of moments in my life. As a result, it is sometimes hard for me to let go of the tangible goods that remind me of such moments. Especially when I remember them in such precise detail. Simpler has steps for that too, including how to process what those memories really mean and saving a snapshot with your tangible memory so you’ll always have it handy in your digital world. So now I have no excuses. Guess I need to finally face the keepsake boxes.
I asked Matt a few questions on his book and philosophies and was kind enough to share some answers with us: You talk about getting robbed in Simpler. Was this the catalyst to living a simpler, more minimalistic life? Or was there a series of incidences that made you think you were through with surrounding yourself with stuff? The robbery was the chief catalyst, I think.
I’d moved apartments a few times before that, come to think of it, and had always complained about the sheer quantity of crap that I had to cart with me, but I don’t think I had a full picture of just how much stuff I owned until it was all scattered and messy on the floor. It just seemed silly, you know? I’d been collecting this stuff for years, spending money on things I rarely used or needed, and suddenly the great big mess of it all was staring me back in the face.
I knew things had to change. I didn’t realize, then, that it would lead me into the fuller, simpler life I’m living now, but I did have a feeling of “opening a door” from the first moment I started donating and selling most of my crap.
Health and fitness are obviously important parts of your simple-living philosophy. While most people let the gym and a complex diet overwhelm their efforts, you’ve simplified it to the point of needing very little to wildly succeed. If you could only recommend changing one thing in both your diet and fitness regime, what would it be? Just one thing? That’s tough!
Here’s an idea: start thinking. Start reading, even. I’d still be eating low-fat, heavily-processed frankenfoods in an attempt to lose weight if I hadn’t decided to go online and do a little research about health and nutrition. My body — my health and my routine — are the direct result of taking an interest in how we eat, exercise, etc., and applying the lessons I found online in my own life. The results have been nothing short of incredible.
It’s a little weird, in retrospect, that I read my burgeoning six-pack into existence, but that’s the truth: the information for strong, vibrant health is out there. You just have to find it, and you have to be willing to do a lot more thinking about a subject that most people are more comfortable leaving in the hands of their doctors and other health-care providers.
What would you say the biggest impact minimalism has made on your life so far? The biggest impact, I think, is in cultivating a sense of freedom. I’m not speaking about some ethereal concept, either — I’m talking about the practical ability to direct my life in the exact way I want to. I’ve unchained myself from (most!) commercial desires, meaning I need far less money to live a life that I can enjoy.
I’ve unchained myself from the conventional American diet (let alone the three meals a day mentality!), meaning I can focus on healthy, natural foods without ever needing to count calories, step on a scale, or generally downgrade food from its rightful place: a flavorful, incredible, simple part of life. Practically speaking, I feel free. Free to do what I want, live where I want, and spend my time the way I should: helping other people. Minimalism has stripped away all the layers of fluff and excess that tend to cloud that one goal.
What are your plans for the future and how do you see simple-living fitting into it all? I want to live in as many cities as possible, cultivate as many friendships as possible, and genuinely try to help people in whatever form that takes. The simplicity of my needs — let alone my perspective on life, I guess! — allows me to do this in an easier (and far more economical) way, I think, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping it’ll all work out. I do need to start making some kind of money, though.
Can’t say I need much, but some is better than none when you’re trying to wander from place to place. 🙂 That said, at the end of the day I guess I’m not too worried. Why? Because I know I’ll be happy. It doesn’t matter where I am, who I’m with, or whether I’m completely broke — so long as I’m living a simple, meaningful life, then I think I’ll be able to face each day with a smile. **************** It will be interesting to see how much simple living can impact our lives.
Just don’t confuse ‘Simple’ with ‘Small’. Because what Simpler offers is nothing less than an opportunity to exponentially change your life. It’s big. Very big.