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Please, make yourself uncomfortable (bufr.tumblr.com)
205 points by buf on June 21, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments



Articles like this make me really happy I am who I am. The fact that you need to sell most of your belongings and turn your apartment into a barren wasteland to be happy is no better than feeling like you need to buy things to be happy.


Agreed. Attachment to not owning things is exactly the same issue as attachment to owning things. All you're doing is completing some actions to avoid a certain feeling or outcome.

I went through a phase where I just donated anything I thought was a distraction to charity, solved a lot in the short term, was insignificant in the long term. Addressing the fact I was bored with my career and hadn't had a break in years solved a lot more.


I understand the spirit of what you are saying, I don't think I fully agree with it.

Beyond the self though, I think an attachment to not owning is more beneficial to humanity (I use the term broadly). Less consumption is simply more sustainable for our planet. That simple.


I agree with you on this point. Apart from a handful of items I live fairly lightly anyhow, and less consumption is essential.

I'd just rather see it executed as a rational and dispassionate decision than something motivated by anxiety or internal / social pressure, in those scenarios I often don't feel people can sustain it / they won't substitute with something else.


  > Less consumption is simply more sustainable for our planet.
The best take on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw

What it does even mean, to be sustainable planet? To keep the status quo adapted for current human civilization and its perception of what's right?


Living sustainably simply means to live in a way that does not compromise the future generation’s chance to live.


When thinking of a sustainable system I like the analogy made in Cradle To Cradle[1]: the cherry tree. A cherry tree produces food for animals and any blossoms and fruit that falls on the ground nourishes the soil. It produces more than it takes in, and nourishes it's environment.

When applying this to human civilization you can end up with sustainable factories for example [2].

[1] http://www.mcdonough.com/cradle_to_cradle.htm

[2] http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/mosa-worlds-first-cr...


What it does even mean, to be sustainable planet?

How about just keeping the wild polar bears alive?


This answer is exactly the reason I asked what does it mean. Serious question: why keeping polar bear alive makes planet sustainable? Who kept dinosaurs alive? Or any other species which went extinct before we even were there? I think we vastly overestimate our influence on the earth (just compare total mass of humans to that of bacteria, not to mention plants) and our responsibility for it.

If human brings some alien seeds and the new plant starts to dominate the "locals" we see that human as criminal. Would winter or water do the same it's natural then. We are not the children of nature. We are the part of nature, and the small one. Sure, we have an ability to reflect on our actions and inflict disproportional changes to environment, but still.

Just for some context. Fukushima nuclear disaster: nobody killed, 39 injured. Japan earthquake and tsunami: more than 15 000 killed, more than 5000 injured, more than 7000 missing. The sentiment is still "get rid of nuclear, save the planet". Who is killing whom? Indian Ocean tsunami? Haiti earthquake?

George got it right: no matter what we do planet is here to stay, it is not going anywhere. We cannot in any way affect the sustainability of it. Only of our own lives.


"no matter what we do planet is here to stay, it is not going anywhere. We cannot in any way affect the sustainability of it"

The earth is undergoing one of the largest mass extinctions in its entire history. And it's largely humans' fault.

The eath is undergoing massive climate change. And it's largely humans' fault.

Humans are polluting their environment on an unprecedented scale. We are causing enormous losses in biodiversity. And this does not even begin to address the devastation that a large-scale nuclear war would cause -- something that's still a very real possibility.

Sure, Earth's geology will survive, as its surface is like the rind on an apple and it doesn't matter much to the Earth's interior what happens on the surface.. and we can barely affect the geology of the surface.

But we can and certainly do affect life on Earth. Sure, humans might have a hard time killing off all life, but we're doing a pretty good job killing off a good fraction of it. And yes, humans are a part of nature, but a particularly destructive part.


> How about just keeping the wild polar bears alive?

What makes you think that they're not doing well?

Currently, some populations are increasing while others are decreasing - the overall trend is slightly up. The latter is a bit of a change - we've had times when the trend was down.


Why?


Why not?

(Let's not give flippant answers to flippant comments, that doesn't bode well for the rest of the conversation.)


The answer to why not is because it requires the expenditure of effort. Without a reason to do anything in either direction, not doing something is the logically correct response.


just bring them to antarctica maybe


Attachment to not owning things is exactly the same issue as attachment to owning things.

It sounds as if you don't think that it is possible to genuinely not need certain things.

If I don't own a TV and never even remember the fact that I don't have a TV, is that 'attachment'?


No. You're talking about the neutral case. I own no specialist plumbing tools, but as I'm not a plumber, it doesn't bother me either way.

I'm talking about the two other cases - I must own X to be in state Y, or I must not have X to be in state Y.

People set themselves up all sorts of artificial success milestones with stuff like this that are just as ineffective on either end of the scale.

My own anecdote. I had a TV, I decided it was a distraction and owning it distressed me enough that I gave it away. I now own a TV again, it's dusty and gets used once a month. Nothing inherently different about the TV in this case, I just matured enough to be able to balance and manage my time better, so now there's no particular attachment (in the case of the TV) to having it there or not.


The real question is - would you have been able to detach from your television distraction if you didn't have that time away from it?

Personally, I find that going through periods of scarcity provides unique benefits because it proves, without a reasonable doubt, that it's possible to do so. Once the possibility has been witnessed, it is easier to say no even when the object is directly in front of you.


I am currently trying to cut down my possessions (and sadly stressing a tad about it) so that they all fit reasonably in the back of my station wagon without overloading the suspension (I move once or twice a year). Would you consider that an artificial milestone?


Artificial milestones to proceeding with a plan or taking an action, you're describing a literal milestone of fitting everything in your car due to a practical need.

I was down to the point of it all fitting in the boot of a sedan but had no rhyme or reason to it at all, I was just acting out against a bunch of other stuff because I figured once I was done, I'd be "ready"

_that_ is an artificial milestone.


> If I don't own a TV and never even remember the fact that I don't have a TV, is that 'attachment'?

If you are compelled to blog about it incessantly and preach it as religion, yes. Otherwise, not really. The blog post is aimed at a certain type of people and mentality that personally drives me up the walls. The "minimalism"/paperless craze is one of the biggest at the moment.

This is summarized in a great atheist joke:

"How do you know someone is an atheist?

They tell you."


Just like how not collecting stamps is as much of a hobby as collecting stamps? Ok, I am being silly, but not owning things is not the same as having an attachment to not owning things.


If you keep feeling good because you don't own a stamp collection, if you keep reminding your friends how great it is not to own a stamp collection, then you are attached to stamp collections, just in a reverse way.


I don't see your point. Can you expand on it a bit?

I live like the OP. I barely own anything and I avoid distractions like the plague (There are some I still fight to avoid at certain times... HN). The increased focus is liberating.

I would see needing to buy things as trying to fill a hole and ridding yourself of those things as trying to cure the issue. They may be rooted in the same problem, but are they really the same?


Not the GP, or the author of TFA, but my take on it is pretty simple: the problem is attachment. It's not our things that are the problem, but our attachment to them — the thing has somehow come to define us, or, more correctly: we've come to define ourselves, in however small a way, in terms of the thing. "I have a nice TV, so I'm somehow better", on some imaginary scale of better-ness.

The fact of the matter is, you have a TV. Period. Any notion of better-ness you have is a story you're telling yourself. There's no better or worse here. Stop telling yourself the story, or at least learn to recognize it as a story — let the TV be a TV — and you'll be amazed at how much you can simply enjoy watching TV when that's what you want to do, and walk away from it when you don't.

TFA is right in that experiences are what make us happy, but where he gets it wrong is by defining himself in antithesis to things. That's just as much a story, and just as much an external definition of self as, "I'm an awesome person because I have a really nice car," or, "I'm cool because I'm an Apple fanboi," or any other thing or set of things. He's become attached to, and identifies with, the absence of things; he's over-corrected.

Once you get over attachment, you can have things, or not have things, or whatever else you might want to do with them, without having some kind of complex about it — without that external thing somehow becoming definitive of who you are as a person. You realize that they're just things, and like everything else in this life, they're transient.

Now, be careful, and don't make the novice mistake of conflating "attachment" and "liking". I like my TV and my car and my computers and my books and all the rest of the crap I schlep along with me through this life quite a bit; I wouldn't have bought them if I didn't. But if I lost them tomorrow, it wouldn't change my identity — it wouldn't change me — a whit. I'm still exactly and only me, whatever that happens to be. It's life, and my experiences therein, that change me, and that can happen with or without things.


That "imaginary scale of better-ness" that you speak of is called happiness. At least, that's the scale on which I would find a difference between pushing around a $500 beat-to-shit Dodge Neon and cruising in a brand new BMW.

If you're driving a nice car, you worry less about it breaking down at an inconvenient time. You're probably also safer; as an extreme example, I believe one is less likely to be injured in an accident doing 120 in a Ferrari Enzo and wrapping it around a tree than doing the same at half the speed in a budget car. Having a nice AWD car affords you the opportunity to drive up to Tahoe for a snowboarding weekend without worrying about whether you will get stuck in the snow. If you've got a nice home with plenty of extra sleeping space, you have the opportunity to invite a bunch of friends to fly out for a weekend to party and have an awesome time. In all of these cases, the material things serve as tools by opening doors for you to have experiences. And aren't experiences the root of happiness?

Nice things are not better than average things because they are more expensive, they are better because they offer more opportunities for experiences. The ownership of things is not an end in and of itself, but a means to an end.

That said, I totally agree with your thesis: "the problem is attachment". I think the OP's article can be summed up in a sentence: He had unhealthy compulsions resulting from a factor, got rid of that factor, and was happier. That factor, for the author, being material possessions. Broadly presuming that everyone has the same unhealthy relationship to possessions is where his article fell apart for me.


If you're not already, it sounds like you'd be interested in the Buddhist philosophy which, at it's core, states that attachment is suffering and that removing said attachment is the path to liberation.


Sure, the point is that either way (either by compulsively buying things, or needing to purge down to the absolute bare necessities) you're allowing consumer goods to control you. Those of us who don't feel consumed by goods would gain nothing by purging of everything. I own all the things that the OP purged off in his need to cleanse, but, none of those ever get in the way of me going out.

My point is simply this: I read things like this all the time, and it makes me very happy that I don't feel compelled to control my belongings to be able to live a happy life.


"Paraplegics are often unhappy, but they are not unhappy all the time because they spend most of the time experiencing and thinking about other things than their disability. When we think of what it is like to be a paraplegic, or blind, or a lottery winner, or a resident of California we focus on the distinctive aspects of each of these conditions. The mismatch in the allocation of attention between thinking about a life condition and actually living it is the cause of the focusing illusion."

http://edge.org/response-detail/1703/what-scientific-concept...

In other words, when you're reading how someone improved their life by paring down possessions, it may sound like they define themselves by compulsively purging possessions, but they probably don't. It just seems that way because all you're seeing while reading their writing is one aspect of their life. You are focusing your attention on only one of hundreds, if not thousands, of the author's opinions and life decisions.


There are two differences:

One, stuff is a positive number. If your goal is to have less stuff to be happy, you can't get less than zero stuff. It's self-limiting. If your goal is to have more stuff, there is no limit. It's always possible to have more stuff.

Second, the OP seems to indicate that having stuff wasn't actually making him happy, which is an important distinction. Actually being happy is totally distinct from feeling like you will be happy if you buy more things.

If you are actually happy because you own things, then obviously you should stick with what works for you.


I totally agree with you.


'Now when people ask, “Hey Buf, happy hour? A bunch of us are going out to Bloodhound,” I don’t have to spend my night at home watching Battlestar Gallactica in my boxers eating cheetos off my fat naked belly.'

Hate to break it to you, Buf, but you didn't have to spend your night like that. You had a choice, and it may make sense for you to restrict your options for future decision making by getting rid of your material things, but it's sort of presumptuous to assume that most people are just as bad at making decisions.

Edit: Maybe I'm in the minority here, how many of you also feel totally and uncontrollably compelled to sit at home and interact with your material possessions when offered a choice between that and an opportunity to go out and interact with friends?


I did this once... about 4 years ago. I found that I became a very uninteresting person. I worked and had no hobbies.

Now I have more stuff, but not so much stuff that it restricts me from hanging out with friends. I think it's more important to not buy stuff that will take away your time, or increase your obligations.


I think it's more important to not buy stuff that will take away your time, or increase your obligations.

Heh... maybe I better not get a dog after all.


Everyone has their own balance. I sold my car 4 years ago (biking feels better), I never bought a TV, etc...

On the other hand, I like inviting people over for drinks, potlucks, etc... So, owning decent cookware and some living room furniture adds a lot to my life. The important thing seems to be to step outside automatic assumptions and actually figure what makes you happier (and what drains your energy).


> owning decent cookware and some living room furniture adds a lot to my life

Yes. The debate between "having things" and "not having things" seems wrong-headed and the OP sounds a bit like a thing-vegan. "I gave up things and now I'm sooo much healthier".

Things are tools. You should own things in order to do something with them, not because merely having them makes you happy (or because not having them makes you look cool (you think)).

Also, you find that good tools are often old tools, because you know them well; since you know their flaws they slow you much less than having to learn the workings of a shiny new version. (Joel Spolsky talks about this somewhere when he says he's still using Corel Draw).

My motorbike is 14 years old. I'd find it hard to live without a motorbike, but I certainly don't need to buy a new one when the current one is still running.


I think your "stuff" should be a reflection of your present goals/way of thinking. I dont believe in minimalism per se because it can get in the way of achieving things you want. For eg: if you want to get good at a sport, your going to have a lot of sports gear - (the better you are the less you usually need but as a beginner you need much more stuff).

I do however think that minimalism is useful as a tool to get to the right amount of stuff for people who presently have huge amounts of stuff. Get rid of all your stuff and then afterwards buy back what you realize that you need. This will be a much faster way than trying to decide one-by-one which of pieces of stuff you should keep.

What usually happens is that "stuff" accumulates - it doesnt disappear on its own. You have to put in extra effort to get rid of it.

Having old and useless crap around you does distract the mind - a lot. Also you worry about it and there is also the associated guilt of not having taken the time to get rid of it. That is the problem with having too much stuff. It deadens you without you realizing.

I have recently gotten rid of a lot of my stuff for a cross country move. And I basically got rid of anything that I didnt use in the last 2 years. Books were actually the hardest to get rid of.

In the end what I discovered was, that without any stuff, my _real_ problems became abundantly clear. Clear as daylight. And I could focus on solving only them.


I don't find owning lots of stuff distracting at all. It's just all there should I need any of it.

For instance, if I need some super-glue, it's there. Should I need a certain color marker, it's there. If I decide to go camping, I'm not going to have to buy all sorts of camping gear (from sleeping bags to tents and everything in between) because I've already got it. Etc..

However, I do admit that owning lots of stuff has some serious disadvantages. In particular, it makes moving from place to place a huge pain in the butt, and makes it that much less likely that you'll move at all.

Without many possessions, you are much more easily able to just pick up and go wherever you feel like going on a moment's notice... and that is a real gift.


Unless you've lived with less stuff, youd never know how much of a difference it makes. It's very freeing.

Also I'm talking about stuff u haven't used in 2 years.


Agreed on all points except the selling off of the wardrobe.

Like it or not, the world rewards well-dressed, well-manicured people in a pretty absurdly extreme way.


You can pack a pretty good wardrobe with a few items. One nice suit jacket, a pair of jeans, a couple ties and a couple shirts. The shirts and ties you pick colors carefully so the mix, it will look like you're wearing a different suit everyday. Jeans for casual events, or mix with the jacket. All thats really missing is a pair of dress shoes and a pair of walking shoes.

With a little thinking you can mostly fit your life in carry on.


Agreed, was more referring to the "just pants and tech t-shirts" thing... it's passable, particularly in our industry, but one might be surprised at how many doors open (and how many open doors fall into your lap) when you just happen to be well-dressed.


Ask HN: Where can a nerdy hacker go to find out what sort of casual clothes are in style and look pretty good?

I'm thinking specifically of dates, where you won't be wearing a suit or anything terribly formal, but still want to give off the impression of being successful, stylish, handsome, and hip without being overbearing. I have no intention of actually becoming well-dressed, but I figure it'd be nice to have a couple of outfits that show that I do, in fact, clean up pretty nicely.


Gilt's manual, a continuous lean, the sartorialist, hickorees, selectism (and related sites), hypebeast, styleforum, and so on. Go to those sites and there will be links to loads more similar sites. There was a lot less cognitive fashion overhead required for males when everyone just wore the same suit every day.

That said, if you bought all your clothes from j.crew and maybe some hoodies and t-shirts from american apparel, you'd be covered for 98% of north american dating and office working situations. (losing out on dates with extreme hipsters, goths, gutter punks, fashion plates, ravers, nudists, hell's angels, and the amish)


The Male Fashion Advice subreddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice) has some interesting discussion and advice. Check the sidebar on the right for specific issues.

Bear in mind that like any community it has certain strong personalities that set the tone for everyone else. If your instincts say "following this advice will make me look ridiculous" then you're probably right.


http://putthison.com/, the series and blog are both nice, and the accompanying "Sites we Like" sidebar is everything the other commenter mentioned and then some.

In my experience, having a female friend you can get rapid feedback from is invaluable, too.


Where can a nerdy hacker go to find out what sort of casual clothes are in style and look pretty good

A decent clothes store. Most people working there will be more than happy to give you tips and pointers. If you want a more complete package, many stores will let you book a time where one of their stylists will give you their undivided attention and work with you to put together a complete wardrobe.


I just go to Zara and imitate the mannequin...


What do you mean by "well-dressed"? A suit? Sports jacket, shirt and slacks? Polo shirt and jeans?

I think I am pretty familiar with what it means to be badly dressed, but well dressed such that it might induce the opening of doors is hard to pin down.


What about the day when it's time to wash that pair of jeans?


Here they have some cool tips about denim. http://vimeo.com/7391362


I'd recommend wearing the suit that day, but if you're less modest than I there are other solutions.


Excellent point. There is definitely a suit and tie in my wardrobe, and even a pair of dress shoes. By no means did I mean to imply that we should all lose our basic hygiene standards. I buy new clothes when the others get old, and the turnover is pretty high.

What I meant to imply was that choosing what to wear is a tedious task. Clothing piles up. If you haven't worn something in 6 months (unless it's seasonal), you probably won't.


I wasn't really talking about suit and tie though - sure, there are functions where everyone dresses up, even the most die-hard of UNIX greybeards. I also wasn't talking about making sure everything is clean (though it should be!)

I was talking about maintaining a more fashionable wardrobe (and there are many definitions of this, but t-shirt/jeans doesn't qualify under any of them) for everyday life. It doesn't have to be big, or extensive, but spending brain-cycles on dressing yourself is more often than not worth it.

Sometimes all it takes to open a door you never thought would open is well-fitted jeans, a well-cut collared shirt, and a broad smile. Or hell, sometimes opening doors is a flannel shirt, vintage t-shirt, and Converse sneakers. The standard geek ensemble, I've noticed, doesn't do much. Your mode of attire is a form of communication, whether we like it or not.


Isn't that why Steve Jobs wears the same thing every day?


Steve Jobs wears the same thing every day because he's Steve Jobs. All doors are opened for him regardless.


I'm somewhat like the OP, but my intentions were nothing like his.

I got rid of 95% of my stuff, not because it was distracting, but because I never used most of it. I also move a lot and I hate lugging inessentials around from place to place.

To this day, I can basically live out of a duffel bag (minus my desktop computer and guitar). I like to travel a lot, so that works for me. Is it right for everyone? Absolutely not.

One commenter pointed out below that after getting rid of everything he felt "uninteresting". I can relate to that because that's exactly how I felt when I got rid of most of my stuff. However, I now believe the opposite to be true. Personally, I put a lot of who I was into all the cool toys and records I had amassed, but when that is gone, either due to intention or accident (such as a fire), what are you left with? A big gaping hole, that's what. Filling that hole can be difficult, but I've found it to be a very rewarding experience for my own personal growth.

In the end, I kept the things that allow me to create and ditched most of the things I simply consumed. I'm not at all anti-owning-stuff, I just believe that if I buy something it needs to be something I'll use over and over again.

Really, how much you want to own is nothing more than a personal choice based on how you want to live your life and where you want to allocate your resources.

Not that controversial a topic in my opinion.


Many of the comments here debate materialism vs. minimalism, in terms of which provides a truer path to happiness. But the author of the post wasn't trying to be happy - his goal is to become "uncomfortable", in order to work more productively.

The main issue is not how much stuff the author has or doesn't have, but rather his spiritual and cultural impoverishment.

He insists that progress in life is driven by unhappiness, and that comfortableness begets complacency. This simplistic argument says a lot about his personal failings and very little about the human psyche in general. Yes, some great things are born of discontent. But this dude is a computer programmer, not Ghandi. It apparently has not occurred to him to nurture a sense of sustained excitement over the creative process, to channel the joy and endless amusement of a life spent problem-solving and pushing intellectual boundaries, or to get happily enthused about developing his own original ideas.

If drooling over video games and giggling at Reddit memes is your default 'comfortable' behaviour, then yes, by all means, take drastic measures to suppress your immaturity. (I'd personally keep very quiet about it.)


Video games are immature? I thought the average gamer was in his mid 30s (I can look up the source if you'd like).



Just because someone's in his mid 30s doesn't mean he's mature.

Many adults constantly act like children, particularly if they're in the political profession.


Let me start by stating that I think I understand the point of this article. As a student, for example, I often opt to study in the library in lieu of getting work done in my own domicile because I know that the relative discomfort combined with the silence and isolation will help me do the needful.

I understand selling the TV and all that, but I don't understand why OP would sell a bicycle or see not cooking as an expression of a minimalistic lifestyle. I mean, I suppose that if you rode your bicycle so infrequently that it was actually just sitting around and taking up space, it would be good to sell it, but a bicycle seems like one of those things that isn't really a distraction and sometimes comes in quite handy.

Similarly, I don't understand why I've met and heard about so many people that take this strange sort of pride in not cooking for themselves. Cooking is one of these things like taking regular exercise that it seems important to make time for, because by not knowing how or making time to cook, you are exposing yourself to a waste of money and generally worse nutrition than you would be able to achieve in your own kitchen.


There is also a "I don't cook" worst case scenario which occasionally hits people hard, social unrest. Try going to a restaurant when the streets are in full riot mode. I had a conversation with a guy who found himself in this exact situation. He spent three days hungry because it wasn't safe to go outside and he had no food in his house. This situation happens a lot and can happen suddenly, and has happened at least once almost everywhere.


Living in an architect designed minimalist space is one thing, but having an empty "regular" apartment can put a strain on interpersonal relationships. It's a turn off to a lot of people if your apartment looks like a temporary crack den and there's no place to sit down.


Aside from interpersonal considerations... why would you make your home an uncomfortable place to be?


To disincentivize being there. If you have an office, being at home is actually a pretty crappy place to be. You’re neither out meeting people and having fun nor working; lose the video games and go do some improv or skydiving I say.


I'm one of those classical introverts who needs a lot of downtime to recharge. If I were to do improv on Tuesday, it effectively guarantees that I'll be staying in on Wednesday and reading a book, or writing some code, or doing something that I find enjoyable.


If you have an office, this might not affect you so much.

I think my gf might be the only person that has ever been to my apartment. Plenty of friends and acquaintances have chilled at my office, however.


I've got one: Don't have a computer/video-console/television at home (I admit I am writing this from work). Basically by not having a computer at home, I don't have a bottom-well of comfort called 'reddit' around, so I might go over some other humps to get to another well of comfort, at the moment that is Hofstadters "Godel, Escher, Bach". Also, books are above watching television but below working in effort. Get some. They are great. Also, about 30% of the university educated population maintains a rule, that I myself follow; If you don't have decent books lying around, I won't sleep with you... books are an indicator of what you accept as relaxing, beautiful and comforting. I am sorry to say, that even the most intelligent people who relax using the internet, probably have something like reddit or hacker news as their comfort zone.


What's so special about "decent books"? What if you prefer to use an Ereader?

And what's wrong with Hacker News? Through HN I've found TED and KhanAcademy. I'll put Hacker News, TED, and KhanAcademy up against your "decent book" library for comfort and see no reason why someone would discriminate based on that. Interesting criteria you have. I'm highly skeptical of your 30% statistic.


What is special about them is that I can judge their covers and thus judge the person reading them. If your e-reader permanently displays everybook you have read or showed a vague interest in at some point on your wall without seeming like its immodest bragging, then your e-reader may woo me into bed (starup idea!).

I am skeptical of my 30% statistic myself, otherwise I might have had more sex.


If you've got them back to your apartment to view your books you're 75% of the way there (not true for house parties, etc, but you get my point). I really don't think many people are going to bail at that point due to a lack of displayed books.


As Eckermann recorded Goethe saying, on Friday 1831-03-25:

Goethe showed me an elegant green elbow-chair, which he had lately bought at an auction.

"However," said he, "I shall use it but little, or not at all; for all kinds of commodiousness are against my nature. You see in my chamber no sofa; I always sit in my old wooden chair, and never till a few weeks ago have I had a leaning-place put for my head. If surrounded by convenient tasteful furniture, my thoughts are absorbed, and I am placed in an agreeable but passive state. Unless we are accustomed to them from early youth, splendid chambers and elegant furniture are for people who neither have nor can have any thoughts."

http://www.hxa.name/books/ecog/Eckermann-ConversationsOfGoet...


> I don’t have things to hang on the walls. I rarely visit the kitchen. My apartment is a barren place. I dislike spending long hours there.

That part sounds stupid. Why are you making your home an uncomfortable environment? That's not minimalism, that's self-flagellation. Is he spending all of his time at work?


The idea is that you're a working machine. You think the terminator hangs photos in his house? Trick question, the terminator doesn't have a home. I bet this guy wouldn't either if he didn't need to. He lives to work


Kahm with me eef you vant to code.


This post reminds me of the adage "Americans Live to Work".


First I thought this was satire. Then I got the idea that he might be serious. Then I was convinced it was satire. Now I just don't know anymore.


How about practicing self control? I have an Xbox one meter away from where I work, but don't use it unless I have friends over and we have fun. Something probably unknown to a person that sold his bike because he dislikes comfort.


Mild discomfiture can be a great motivator to spur yourself to change.

The trick, I have been learning, is to make sure you don't grow to accept the discomfiture. You can totally get used to things like sleeping on the floor or eating bland food, but really you gain nothing from it, and it's just kind of sad. (spoken as a guy who has done this before)


This post should have been called "having ADD sucks."


Balancing materialism and minimalism would be the best thing to do IMO. At either extremes you will always have people who have switched over from the other extreme, thinking the grass is greener on the other side. You will also have people arguing religiously about how their respective extreme is good. But at the center there's balance, low entropy and equilibrium.


I'm exactly the opposite. If I'm not comfortable, I will spend all my time and money working towards being comfortable. Once I'm comfortable, then I can actually get other stuff done.

This goes for home (play vs side projects) and work (fixing my working environment to remove pain points) and pretty much everything I do.


Am I the only one who thought this was sarcasm? I mean, seriously:

> I don’t have things to hang on the walls. I rarely visit the kitchen. My apartment is a barren place. I dislike spending long hours there.

> I even stand all day to make sure I don’t get too sleepy in my comfortable chair.

> There was this guy at work that loved to talk, and he frequently came by my desk just to chat. I tried everything from asking him to leave to closing the door in his face. The motherfucker simply wouldn’t shut up. The solution was to kill him (explain to him that he’s distracting me). Unrelated note: There’s an opening for a front end engineer at Eventbrite.

It's pretty clear to me that entire thing is a joke (and not only the last thing I quoted).. no one can seriously be that detached from reality... right?


It's pretty clear to me that entire thing is a joke

No it's not ... these things you quoted do not seem extreme to me.

I'm living alone now. I have no idea why someone would hang stuff on walls. I wouldn't stand all day, but I don't spend all day at home and my chair is a cheap wooden one from IKEA. Between work, lifting weights/doing martial arts and some extra studies I'm doing, I don't have that much time to spend at home anyway, other than sleeping.

I spend time in the kitchen because I prefer to cook my food, but I only have the most basic stuff and I spend as little time in the kitchen as possible - i.e. cook enough for several days so I don't have to worry about that every day.

And I do hate small useless talk too. Don't get me wrong, it's fine to have a short conversation about the weekend plans or something like that. But, indeed, there are people that just don't know when to stop or don't understand when they go from polite to annoying. I totally understand where the author is coming from.

Of course, when I start living with someone else again that will change, but for now that's how it is.


Spiritual masters have been declaring these truths for millennia.

More recently, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krsna states (paraphrase): "That which is nectar in the beginning becomes poison in the end/ That which is poison in the beginning becomes nectar in the end"

Your experiences seem to verify this.


There are some technical solutions for the problem of distraction online. Some of these are addons for browsers while others affect the whole computer. :)

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/leechblock/

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gpdgmmdbbbchchonpf...

http://anti-social.cc/

http://blog.binaryswitch.com/2010/02/binaryswitch-eclipse.ht...


This reminds me of a less developed version of the advice Leo Babauta gives in his short book, "Focus":

http://focusmanifesto.com/

I highly recommend it. It takes maybe a couple of hours to read, and it's very dense with good ideas, suggestions and observations about how we interact with distractions. He doesn't go the extreme route of destroying them like this article's author; instead, he acknowledges that distraction can be fun and even a necessity to inspiration, but that we need the tools to quash it when we need to focus.


I have trouble taking someone seriously when they pepper what could have been an insightful post with reddit meme references.


These days, I find myself doing the things I’ve always wanted to do, like being amazing. And when I’m tired of being amazing, I take a nap and be amazing again.

Losing your attachment to "things" could help you be more amazing too - and how!


I don't think I'm on board with all of his suggestions (who would want to make their home uninviting?), but he makes a couple good points in a pleasantly amusing way.


I own very few possessions. I have done this to make myself far more comfortable than it is supposed to be possible for me to be. I have a serious medical condition and getting rid of things has also gotten rid of germs and dust and such. My brain also works better because I'm not so sick, thus concentration and the like have improved. Clearly, I have a strong personal bias, but I read this and can't help but wonder if he feels better and gets more done and all that for the same reason I feel better and get more done and all that: He's simply healthier.


Unfortunately, I think the author is actually making himself comfortable. He is uncomfortable with his current state rather than his future state..


I kept thinking of Fight Club while I was reading this blog post. More or less the same minimalism, just without the ass kicking.


The last paragraph is a Chuck Palahnuik quote! Seems like you got the mindset the author was coming from. :->


The takeaway I got from this is that I need to handle my sofa issue. Only then will I be happy.


Bad advice, bad writer




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