Monday, October 12, 2015

Insights on routine

I spent three days in a Buddhist monastery last week. The time was nourishing and healing to me. I breathed, walked, ate, worked, slept. I was.

Returning to Berlin I could see my thoughts and behaviors with incredible clarity. What I noticed right away was, that my everyday life is full of little decisions. What will I eat today? Will I clean the apartment when I return home or rather go to the gym instead? Will I read or listen to music on the subway? What music will I listen to? Or maybe will I prefer to enjoy doing nothing?

Monks and nuns (in any religion) do not seem to face these "problems". For me it helped a lot to know  what's going to happen and just be present to the moment. This shed a whole new light on my opinion about routine. I can see now how it is possible to be free and happy in any circumstances. I can also see how my lack of routine reveals that I haven't quite figured out the direction of my career yet. The more rigid your schedule the more you go into a certain direction on a straight line. If you know what you are heading for that's perfectly fine, almost necessary. But if you feel that you are on the wrong path, you should stop.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Seven months in an office

In February this year I moved to Berlin. My goal was to put all the ideas in my head into practice and have as much impact as possible. I thought the right place to go was a start up company, because I wanted to learn how a real business works first before creating my own one. Although that's probably not a bad idea if you want to learn fast and take on responsibility in a short period of time, for me it did not feel right from the beginning. The biggest problem was, it did not feel wrong either. I was given interesting tasks, my colleagues were friendly and my boss gave in to my wish to only work 25 hours a week. But apart from that I felt like an alien. And I did not feel like I was living the minimalist lifestyle at all anymore.

First of all I found it extremely difficult to get used to sitting 5 hours a day and staring at a screen. Moreover I was not as engaged as I thought I would be. Maybe I was just being in the wrong industry: a flash sales business for luxury hotels. As a frugal camper and hitchhiker that does not get me excited at all. But I think that I realized right from the start that if I was going to be an entrepreneur, it would have to be something real. No pure online business, no office with nothing but computers in it. I longed for music, movement and laughter. Just the fact that you are your own boss doesn't turn an office into paradise. It took me months to realize this and eventually leave.

So now I am looking forward to finally living the long-dreamed dream to study music. And it feels DAMN right. To the people who read this: may my experience in the start up world be an inspiration to really do what you want to do. Even if it means to leave something that's quite comfortable. If it does not fill you with excitement, then you are meant to do something else. Don't let yourself be lulled into a place of comfort and detachment. Life is waiting for you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


It's been a time, that seems endless to me, since I wrote here the last time. I moved from Mainz to Berlin and I somehow needed to rearrange my whole life. It's completely different:
  • I used to cycle everywhere, now I take the subway - but I read on my way
  • I used to take naps several times a day, now I work in an office where I can't do that
  • I used to write this blog in the mornings at home, now I take pen and paper to a cafe and write to write my first book
  • I used to have a busy social life, now I have a busy working schedule
  • I used to have singing lessons three times a week, now I only sing when alone at home
  • I used to teach guitar, now I don't even have one
A lot of things changed. And I'm beginning to understand, that what enabled me to life my "old life" was precious. My bike, my freelance jobs, the projects I was involved in, my friends, my free time activities, my stuff. Yet I was longing for a fresh start. Now I need to build all these things anew. But I have the freedom to choose.

I think this is, what fascinates people about minimalism - the emptiness, the non-determination. What I'm experiencing right now is, that we need determination just as we need freedom. We need the daily grind, we need stuff. But we must not hold on to it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Decluttering for beginners

My situation changes at the moment and I you want to let you know that I'm going to write less frequently here from now on. I want to focus on writing my book and an internship that starts soon. About once a week I will write a longer post on this blog. I hope you're as excited as I am about the book and that you'll stay tuned!

Minimalist living is like fixing a broken roof when it's raining. You can be busy carrying out water in buckets while the rain still keeps coming in. So what you've got to do first is to change your consumption behavior. My suggestion is: Do not buy anything except food and services until you've finished decluttering.

Since I first came up with the idea for my zero-thing-challenge I have been doing exactly that. I did not purchase a single thing. And I've got to admit that it's quite comfortable. Why should I pay money for something when I'm giving away my stuff anyway? What's interesting about it is that one might as well view life in general that way. We only own things for a lifetime. That seems long, but it's finite.

Anyways, after having stopped the inlet we need to take care of the clutter itself. I'd suggest you to minimize the effort and just watch out for opportunities:

"I like that dress you're wearing."
"It should be your size, you can have it."

I promise, it's going to be fun. You can also do that with CDs and books, it works really well:

"Do you know that song? It's The Doors, I love them."
"I've got L.A. Woman and Strange Days on CD, do you want them?"

"What are you reading at the moment?"
"I just finished Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda."
"I've heard Steve Jobs talk about that book. It was one of his favorites."
"It's great! Take it if you want to."

In a third step (after stopping to buy and seizing opportunities) you can occasionally sell stuff on ebay. I did that whenever I felt something was in my way and just taking up space. But then I did it right away. For me this worked better than trying to get rid of everything at once.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

I love minimalist living

After a lot of fiddling around with politics and other topics, here is a classical minimalism post.

Pick up every single item you own and ask yourself: Can I be happy without it? If the answer is yes and you want to be happy, then why do you own it? Remember that happiness is not a destination. You can travel to Rome by plane, but you might as well go there by foot (if you live in Europe). There is no reason not to take a vehicle that gets you there faster. But with happiness it's an entirely different situation. It's not a goal. Certain things don't get you "closer" to happiness. So if you don't need them to be happy, then owning them is completely irrelevant in this regard.

So what it comes down to is clothing, food and a roof over one's head. Sorry, it's as simple as that.We may need special items to carry out our work, which in turn provides the above. But all the fancy stuff we keep in our houses are basically toys. It's not wrong to have them per se. Yet we should keep in mind that we don't need them.

The reason for doing this is that you create space (in your mind and in your place) for what truly makes you happy. Among a lot of virtues that differ from person to person, it's essentially just one: Love.

Friday, January 30, 2015


We breathe in, we breathe out.
We eat, we digest.
We take, we give.
We spawn, we lessen.
We hold on, we let go.
We move, we rest.

In a world that tries to ignore one side of the coin, striving for balance seems radical. They call it minimalism.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Property and justice

Exploitation can be avoided by not buying stuff that was produced under exploitative conditions. But what about stuff that you have bought already? If it has been unfairly traded that just means that you paid less money then you should have paid. Or you got more stuff than you should have gotten for a certain amount of money. Whatever angle you view it from, protecting your possessions is like reaffirming the justifiableness of their trading. The social gap widens as the poor are underpaid and the rich achieve returns. If my bike gets stolen by somebody who works on low wages, why bother? It's poetic justice in a way.