Sooooo, I’m reading this book ‘The Rhythm of Life’ by Matthew Kelly and it has been a wonderful source for encouraging introspection. In an endless variety of ways I am a walking contradiction. What I just realized was that I had been suffering from grandiose mediocrity. Reading about mediocrity and minimalism, I realized that I was living a minimalist of life.
Externally, me as a minimalist is absolutely false. I own more outfit tailored socks than I do actual outfits (and I own quite a few outfits). I own multiple shoes that I can only wear with one ensemble; hell, I own shoes I don’t even wear. Having these things aren’t bad, they just aren’t good.
Materialism is typically what is addressed when the topic of minimalism is discussed. Minimalism, in this sense, makes a lot of sense. Minimalism encourages having only what you need to survive, just enough. This mentality and lifestyle frees us from the social pressures to look a certain way, live in a certain place, or have certain things. It allows us to own things rather than have our things own us.
The fact that I would lay in bed and just order shoes and socks for the sole purpose of not having to wear the same things very often is the epitome of materialism and grandiosity. Materialism and grandiosity are apparent but the mediocrity is what has become apparent to me. My external self means nothing. Dressing up the outside does nothing good for my authentic person, the only version of self warranting that degree of focused attention. It is actually damning because my self-worth becomes dependent on my external presentation. “Your character is your destiny.” Meaning the person I am and the things I value will dictate my future. This misallocation of focus and value has kept me authentically mediocre.
The minimalist lifestyle I’ve been living has been mental, internal, and behavioral. In comfortably dishonest I touched on how society has set the goal at getting to a point where their needs are met. This is a necessary thing but that was me in all aspects of my life. A great example would be work. I’ve been in the service industry for roughly fourteen years and I’m a pretty darn good server. If I had any aspirations for management, I had the knowledge and experience to pursue it. It would mean my taking on more responsibilities that were beyond the scope of mere tableside service; more time and more work. The benefit, however, would be a predictable and consistent income regardless of business, more stability. But I have stayed a server because it allowed me maintain the life I knew. This is not pursuing the best version of myself, my purpose.
This minimalist mentality leaked it’s way into everything I did, do just enough. Do just enough to keep the job, pay just enough child support to keep me out of jail (most times), do just enough to get the girl, you get it. What I didn’t consider, let alone do, was more than enough to advance in the job, not have to worry about going to jail, or grow the relationship. I’ve been catching up with someone and asked “So what are you up to these days?” Discontented, they’d state their job followed by “...but it pays the bills.”
“Low self-esteem is not the result of failure, but the consequence of not even trying. The minimalist doesn’t strive to excel; they strive to survive.”- Matthew Kelly
For a myriad of reasons/excuses I have not tried to be the best version of myself. I set the bar just high enough to where I didn’t have to strive to reach it. I did this so often, in so many areas of my life, for so long, that self-imposed limitations were accepted and interpreted as my reality. What reality is is debatable but what it means is inarguable. Reality, simply means fact. I have the ability to change my reality. Will Smith has a quote from ‘Livin’ the Dream’ where he says, “Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity.” What that means to me, accepting what is in front of me, without even attempting to change it, cements me in whatever circumstance as it is. Because I am human, I have the power to choose and an infinite capacity for growth. So, anywhere, in any way I feel “stuck” is a choice...welcome to mediocrity.
I don’t know any mediocre people but I do know many people, like myself, living a minimalist life. I don’t have to live in limitation anymore. I never did, but now I choose to exercise effort.
No Days Off is now my motto, mantra, creto, pick one. What that means is that I don’t have a day where I don’t make an effort to facilitate growth. “If we want our lives to change, we must first examine and alter our mind habits.” I have a job (for now) that I’m obligated to on evenings. I can’t change this because I have to earn to provide for my life (dem socks and shoes ain’t gonna buy themselves ;-) ) Minimalist Ben says, “I have the day to relax, catch up on my netflix series, and mentally prepare myself for work tonight.” Best version of myself says, “What can I do with this ‘free’ time to improve my self/situation.”
I started by making a list of things I wanted and needed to do to attend to my complete self: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Everything from when I woke, called my kid before school, prayer/meditation, shower, eat, meetings, reading, writing, blog improvement and other things like that. I set times to start and complete these activities that occupy my day from 6am to 3pm, when it’s time to head home and get ready for work. In order to do this I had to change my bedtime, but what I’m foregoing in night-tivities is far less important and less beneficial to my growth. Growth which is essential to altering my reality, raising the bar, and rising above minimalism and mediocrity.
I challenge you all to adopt a No Days Off, anti-minimalist, above mediocrity mindset for one week. See if, where, and how growth, fulfillment, and purpose feels.
We only have this one life (that we know of), thus making time the most crucial thing we have at our disposal. When all is said and done, I don’t want it to be said that I just got by. We all have dreams, talents, and potential specific to only us. To chase those is to live a life full of adventure, enlightenment, growth, and value. To not, is hardly life at all. In all of our Perfectly Imperfect glory, let’s eradicate minimalism and mediocrity within and pursue the best version of ourselves.