There are three things without which essentialism is not possible and if you want to become an essentialist you have to dial in to these three foundational pillars of essentialism. First is individual choice, second is the prevalence of noise, and third is the reality of trade-offs.
Even though it may sound very obvious people don’t actually use this pillar in their life very often which is about making choices. We can choose how to spend our energy and time, without choice there is no point in talking about the third pillar which is the trade-offs. First you have to understand that you always have a choice. If you feel that you don’t have a choice you are simply experiencing a phenomena called as learned helplessness
We have to understand that individual choice is something that we are not practicing enough. It is common for people to think that “oh, of course it is obvious that i have choice to every single thing” but it may be obvious at mental level but if you really think about it, when you think about it in your experience, you will find that you don’t actually practice the freedom of choosing.
Prevalence of noise
Almost everything is noise and very few things are exceptionally valuable. We are caught up in day-to-day lives which is simply not the kind of life we want to live. We are living a very mechanical, very robotic life. We are working the jobs we don’t want to work in, we are doing the things we don’t like just to please people, and we aren’t even aware of this “we are not aware of the things that we are not aware of – so this is a perfect blind spot blind spot in which we live.” And it is just betraying the gift of life that an individual possesses because everyone has the ability to contribute in this world, make this world a better place, be proud of themselves and just be of some value to this planet. In order to do that we have to take some time off and we have to really think about what are our strengths, why are we over here, what do we like to do, what do we don’t like to do, we have to become aware of all these things! Socrates says know thyself but to know yourself you have to put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort. To explore yourself – this is the justification, for taking time to figure out what is most important because some things are so much more important the effort in finding those things is worth it. People don’t put that effort and that is why they just float in the sea of shallow mediocrity.
It is not just about the noise from the world it is also about the noise that you have internally. I have realized that our mind is a fantastic noise generating machine even if you are in the quietest room your mind will be very noisy. A few days ago my fan stopped working completely and I was laying in my bed at night and trying to go to sleep. It was silent, i had never experienced that kind of silence in my at least past few years, and for a few moments i was able to savor that silence but later on to my realization i came to experience that even though the room is extremely quiet my mind was extremely noisy. i had all sorts of thoughts about work, about past about relationships, about career, etc. etc. so it came to my realization that no matter how quietly you are living maybe you’re living in mountains where nobody is there even then your mind will be with you and if the mind is noisy how can you do the most important things in your life?
Essentialism is about removing that noise. The noise is packed with all sorts of non-essential things. Personally my financial freedom is very important to me that is my essential right now. My strategy is passive income. I learned this from playing the game of cash flow which was designed by robert kiyosaki of rich dad and poor dad. The concept is that without working even a single minute if you can earn more than your expenses then you have quit the rat race. so i’m working on that and it has become my essential in life, that is the first priority and the only priority. When i face such situations where the fan is not working and my mind is all noisy i start to question again that if my essential is to create financial freedom then why am i having all this noise? so it is not only about cutting yourself from the world with the non-essential things but also with your mind. if you don’t get clear on what you want in life what you are willing to trade off in your life for that particular thing then you cannot simply practice essentialism.
Reality of trade-offs
We can’t have it all or do it all, all the time. If we could, there would be no reason to evaluate or eliminate options. Choice by default means saying NO to other than what you choose. So if i give you two pills red pill and a blue pill if you choose blue pill you are by default saying no and rejecting the red pill. this is the nature of choice so you have to understand that if you are aiming to become an essentialist, if you want to practice essentialism then by default you will be rejecting a lot of things because you will be choosing only the things that matter the most. Just be aware of this or two-sided nature of choices once we accept the reality of trade-offs we stop asking how can i make it all work and start asking the more honest questions “which problem do i want to solve?”
This will be the situation in every single event in your life. Every single choice you make and once you really understand this idea you will stop thinking traditionally in a non essential way which is “how can i make it all” “how can i do it all” “how can i squeeze into opportunities” “how can i shoot two birds with one arrow.” You will stop asking such ridiculous questions and you will start becoming more honest with yourself because you understand that you will be choosing one or the other and rejecting one or other so what is the point in rejecting the things that truly matter to you? Choosing the things that don’t matter to you or is coming out of your social conditioning and programming so at that point you really start to question yourself with honesty “what problem do i want to solve” “what is it that i want to accomplish” “what is it that matters to me the most” only when we understand these realities then we begin to think like an essentialist.