Make Decisions Easier and Better – 5 Steps to Minimalist Thinking

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Make Decisions Easier and Better –

5 Steps to Minimalistic Thinking

When I was in college, I studied philosophy. A subject matter designed to tie your mind into knots. Very well organized notated knots, but knots nonetheless. So, let me give you the history of western philosophy in 5 steps

1. We have no idea what’s going on.
2. I propose an idea of what is going on.
3. I create a big complex set of texts about why I’m right.
4. Some hotshot comes along and tears my idea to shreds.
5. Repeat

Though philosophy is fascinating to study and can teach you a lot about the way we see the universe, it’s a very specialized technique. Very often when we contemplate our lives we use these complicated techniques to analyze situations that really aren’t all that complicated.

So, since I’m often guilty of this kind of over analysis here are some techniques I’ve discovered to simplify thinking and make better desicions.

5 Steps To Minimalist Thinking Or How To Make Better Faster Choices

1. Preferences –
The first step to thinking more simply is to understand that most decisions are decisions of preference.

There are some choices in life that will really make or break us, but many of them will not. The kind of toothpaste you choose will not dictate your life span, earning potential, or attractiveness. Even most choices at work are not the kind that will make or destroy your career.

The trick is to figure out if the decision is about preference and if it is make a choice and move on. Neither you nor history will remember what choice you made and your brain power would be better used elsewhere.

2. Deliberation –
Ok so once you determined the choice is not one of preference. It’s time to make a deliberation strategy. The key here is to set a time limit. If there is no deadline, your mind will go back and forth forever.

Do this in 3 phases.
1. Set a time limit for each phase –
These can be as long or short as you like, but shorter is better. Most people allocate too long to make a choice and this actually makes it harder to decide.

2. Information gathering –
In this period, gather as much information on each side as is reasonable. Try to spend an equal amount of time getting information unless you already know a lot about one of the choices.

3. Consutation –
Identify two people whose perspectives would be valuable. Call and talk to them about your decision.
The best people are the ones that will ask you good questions about your choice. Pay close attention to what you say because it may reveal your own wisdom or a hidden perspective.

3. The List – Now that you have gathered information and sought counsel, you are ready to decide. Make a list of pros and cons for each option. Only include realistic options for each choice.

Take some time to review the lists carefully. Eliminate unrealistic fears (The zombie apocalypse might happen, but then you’ll have other worries.) and add others things that arise.

Usually one choice has a slight lead now and it’s time to dive in.

4. Taking the Leap
Making a choice is hard and often we end up fighting our fears that we are making a huge mistake. We fear future regret, humilliation, and ridicule. I find that asking myself these three questions helps me take the leap.

  1. What is the best thing that could happen?
  2. What is the worst thing that could happen?
  3. What is the most likely thing that will happen?

This helps reveal my fears and gain some perspective.

5. Tracking and Adjustment
Ok so you’ve made a choice. Now pay attention to what happens. Don’t fret about the choice but observe the results.

Chances are doom will not ensue. And if the choice wasn’t perfect, that’s just more information for next time. After a period of time ask the following questions:

  1. What do I wish I could have known before I decided?
  2. What factors did I not consider during my analysis?
  3. What factors did I consider that didn’t play into the results?

Deciding is hard, but if we stay focused and acknowledge our anxiety, we can learn to be more decisive confident, and minimal in our thinking.


Minimalist Health: 5 Unbelievably Easy Ways To Live Healthier

Minimalist Health: 5 Unbelievably Easy Ways To Live Healthier, minimalist health, eat better, mindful fitness, mindfulness, what is mindfulness, live healthierThere is a deluge of advice out there on how to live a healthier lifestyle. You can eat Paleo, do Crossfit, go vegan, and get a TRX.

But for all the theories and programs, a healthy lifestyle isn’t actually that complicated. And some of these programs do more harm than good.

A Crazy Diet
When I was a high school wrestler, I had to cut weight for matches. So, I tried all sorts of crazy dieting theories.

For several months, I was on a liquid diet of protein shakes. Another time, I ate baked potatoes for almost every meal. I also tried eating meals the size of a soft balls.

Each of these wild plans worked but I’d end up feeling like crap. For example, when I came off the liquid diet it felt like someone dropped a bomb on my body. Other diets left me so tired the feeling of my clothes irritated me.

You Did What?
When I tell people these stories they think I was nuts. Yet, you see this kind of stuff all the time in the diet and fitness world. People will do anything to try to conquer their weight.

Too often, this means making yourself miserable just to lose a few pounds. The problem is being miserable isn’t sustainable. The pursuit of health needs to be part of the pursuit of happiness. Otherwise, you’re not on the right track.

Listen to Your Body
When I came back to athletics as an adult I realized that when I lived healthier I felt healthier. I could have ice cream for breakfast but I felt bloated and sleepy. I could eat a salad for every meal, but I’d feel weak and be prone to sickness.

If I paid attention, my body would tell me if I was on the right track. I still worked out hard and sometimes I felt sore. But when I pursued a balanced path, I looked and felt much better.

Being healthy and happy doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact it shouldn’t be. The idea at the core of Mindful Fitness is that healthy, happy living is about simplicity and balance.

So here are 5 Unbelievably Simple Things You Can Do To Improve Your Health

1. Move Bad Food Further Away
The closer you are to food the more likely you are to eat it. So, move food out of your office and into a break room. Don’t bring food into your bedroom unless it’s for a meal. Only take half of what you normally would for dinner and leave the extra in the kitchen.

Best of all don’t buy food you don’t want to eat. If you have to move to get it, you have to think about it. This one step will increase you awareness of everything you eat.

2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Between every meal, eat a piece of fruit. Make half of each dinner plate some type of non-starchy vegetable. I tell all of my clients to eat more veggies. I tell myself the same thing.

Like Snacking? Eat fruit. You will get more vitamins, eat fewer calories, and feel better.

3. Never Go More Than 2 Days without Exercise
This doesn’t mean you have to lift weights or run a mile everyday. It just means you should do some intentional activity every other day. Even if it’s a 5 min walk around the office.

The habit of exercise is the first step to being active. Make it small. Make it doable. Make it happen.

4. Spend 10 Minutes a Day in Intentional Silence
Turn the radio off when doing the dishes. Turn the radio off when you pick your kids up from school. Take a 10 min walk in silence.

Listen to the sounds around you. Focus on your breath. Silence is the most nourishing practice for our minds. This habit is a key to mindful living.

5. Stretch
Whether you are training for an Iron man or mostly sedentary, flexibility is essential. It prevents injury and helps your body be happy. Stretch every other day. Even if it’s just getting out of bed and spending five minutes bending this way and that.

Even better take a yoga class. Look around and you’ll discover many options to choose from. Take something simple and take it easy. Your body and mind will thank you.

The most amazing wisdom is usually the simplest. Being healthy isn’t complicated. Just start small and stick to it. Remember that radical change is gradual change.


Review of The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta

Ever since living at a monastery I have moved towards living a minimalist lifestyle. But I have struggled from time to time to know where to start and how to continue on the path of less.

Then I found The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta. Leo Babauta writes a very popular blog, There are a lot of great things that I could say about his book but to keep things minimal here are 3 reasons this book rocks.

1. Actionable
Many books on minimalism have long lists about simplifying a huge house. These books don’t apply to my lifestyle as an early thirties, unmarried, unreproduced man. Other books on the subject are so sparse and conceptual that they don’t give you a concrete place to start.

The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life was walks the middle path. The concepts that Leo Babauta introduces are as useful for a family of four as they are for my life. He gives just enough direction to get you started, without creating an inflexible road map. He does this by sharing from his personal experience and giving readers the first few steps he took on the path to living a simpler life. All you have to do as a reader is take the first few steps with him.

2. Comprehensive.
The majority of books and articles I have read on minimalism address how to deal with stuff. The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life does give you tips on dealing with physical items, but it also talks about how minimalism is a value you carry into every aspect of your life. The book covers everything from a having a minimalist home to minimalist fitness.

One of my favorite chapters is on a minimalist computer. I used the tips inside this chapter to make my computer a simple beautiful seamless part of my life. I have tried 1000 different filing and to do list systems and his is the only one that has worked thus far. You may not find this chapter as useful as I did, but you are sure to find at least one chapter that will dramatically simplify your life.

3. Wisdom
Probably the best factor about this book is that it offers more than a set of rules and procedures. It has more than just a minimalist philosophy or style. Instead this book contains bits of true wisdom. The words have a pure, sparse, power. They reflect more than Leo Babauta’s knowledge of the subject; they are an embodiment of his deep practice of mindful living. In an age where words are cheap the wisdom in this book is of the highest quality.

I would recommend The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta to anyone who wants to know more about minimalism, anyone who needs more ease in his or her life, or anyone who is looking for simple book about how to simplify. It’s a book I have read more than once and refer to regularly. Thanks to Leo Babauta for writing such a lovely text.

You can buy this book here:
And Leo Babauta’s blog can be found here: