Mental Minimalism

I have a couple of short observations to share during my little post-oatmeal, pre- ‘studying the digestive system for hours for anatomy 2’ break.

First, over the weekend I wandered into our local Bed Bath & Beyond with my son, looking for an air-popper for popcorn. We have one in our student lounge and it reminded me that air-poppers exist (plus, we buy a lot of that delicious Herbs & Spices organic popcorn from Trader Joe’s, and it is awesome, but costs $2 a bag for maybe 4 cups of popped corn. We’d do a lot better if we popped and spiced our own). My takeaways from that are, one, I am old, since my 16-year-old son had no idea what I was talking about and referred to the little devices as relics from the 1980’s. Two, I’m really starting to develop a sensitivity to all of the consumerist clutter and bullshit in a big-box environment like Bed Bath & Beyond. All I could see for miles was walls fully covered in plastic gee-gaws, and I didn’t like it. I’ve always been one to go for the more expensive but well-made and long lasting product over the cheaper, crappier pieces, but I think I’m coming to a point where I no longer even want the well made product; instead, I want nothing at all, and in fact want to get rid of or sell some of the stuff we already have (which is probably a surprising amount, considering we live in maybe an 800 square foot apartment). I want to put all of our money toward a happy future and spend only on absolute essentials. I like this feeling. It’s liberating.

On the same note, we’ve been trying to minimize the auditory and mental clutter around our home. We’re pretty mellow in general, but my husband is a little bit of a news addict (which is putting it euphemistically in kind of the same way that you might say Lucille Bluth has a little bit of a taste for vodka). Anyway, for years it’s been NPR this and CNN that and never really any silent non-media saturated moments – we’ve sped home early from beach and camping trips because WE HAVE TO MAKE IT HOME BY 7 FOR 60 MINUTES, you know, that kind of thing. So for the past week he’s been trying a no-news, or at least minimal news, experiment, and I’ve got to say it’s been lovely. There’s not so much noise, he’s not so distracted, we can all talk and engage and enjoy life without worrying that we’re interrupting the IMPORTANT UPDATE of the moment, and there’s no underlying sense of chaos and anxiety, which is what I think the 24-hour cable news cycle serves to generate and perpetuate. The no-news experiment seems to be clearing out mental clutter and showing how we can create mental space for things that are more important.  This is unexpected and I love it (almost as much as I love studying the 4 tissue layers of the gastrointestinal tract… oh, wait, I don’t love that. Never mind).

OK, break over. Back to work.


6 thoughts on “Mental Minimalism

  1. I agree. The 24-hour cable news does seem to cause chaos and anxiety. I know some folks who could stand to cut back on that, and I wish for their good they would. But I’m afraid it won’t happen. But we do need to more careful of what we allow to occupy our mental space. Great thoughts!

  2. I love my clunky old popcorn maker, my husband is a severe news addict, I agree with all the stuff you said about consumerism and frugality and I love Arrested Development. So this post is a winner for me!

    • Ha, thanks! He’s getting better… limiting it to the PBS Newhour only… but for Father’s Day he wants to buy one (always news related, natch) e-book ’cause that’s his favorite thing. OK, then.

      • My husband loves PBS Newshour too, but he’s not usually home in time for it. (I think they play it around 5 o’clock here) And he’s addicted to independent news websites!

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