I’m a person who gets easily addicted. I’m a smoker who tried to quit several times. I can’t count my tries on both hands anymore.
This issue got back into my mind as I started my journey towards minimalism. I asked myself the most fundamental question: What is adding value to my life? Smoking cigarettes obviously does not. Even worse, it goes against everything I stand for. So why do I continue this bad habit?
Because I’m addicted. It’s not the answer I wanted to hear from myself but it’s true. Smoking doesn’t add value to my life. It destroys my health. It ruins my finances as it is not only an unhealthy but also an expensive habit. It controls my routines, my behavior in public, my relationships. It’s the opposite of my minimalist approach to life. It’s not a thing I do deliberately and it’s not a thing I want to continue doing.
And that’s why I’m going to get over my nicotine addiction. Because I have to smoke, I don’t choose to do it anymore. This principle goes for healthy habits as well. Think about a healthy habit like working out everyday. No doubt it’s a good thing to do it but not a good thing to become addicted to it. Everything is so much more enjoyable if you do it because you choose to.
Maybe you have some addictions in your life. Maybe it’s time to shake things up a little and see if you choose to do it or have to do it. The same things might bring you much more pleasure and fulfillment, or you might find out it’s time to let some of them (in my case smoking cigarettes) go. It’s a win-win situation.
One thing I’ve learned over the last years is that relationships don’t just happen: You create them. That means that every relationship – if bad or good – is basically formed by your actions, as well as the other persons’. So I suggest you know what you’re doing so that you have some tools at hand to build the relationships you want. Here are my 10 basic principles by which I try to live and create my own relationships:
- Give without expectations
Did you ever give a gift or did something for someone else and the other person didn’t react like you expected him or her to do? I certainly did (and still do), and it almost always leads to a negative outcome. A lot of my romantic relationships suffered from this. If I cook, I expect the other person to enjoy the food. If I say something nice or make a compliment, I expect some positive reaction, at least a thank you. And I’m terribly miserable if this expectation is not fulfilled. What I’ve learned is that every person has a different kind of showing appreciation. For some it’s a smile, for some it’s words, for others it’s a hug. Try to see the intention, not the action. It’s easy to have your ego scratched if you feel your effort is not as valued as you want it to be. I bet there’s appreciation, it might just not in come in the form you expected.
This is important. One existential key to a long lasting, fulfilling relationship is your ability to forgive. Both the other person AND yourself. No matter how good your relationship is going, the other one is going to make mistakes. And so will you. Lots of them. And you will never be happy in your relationships if you are attached to your past mistakes and the pain you suffered from the other one’s mistakes. Forgive for your own happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there’s no time and space for your negative emotions. If someone treats you bad, you better deal with it and not just take it. Deal with the things that happen, as they happen, and learn to let go. If you mess up, learn from it. If someone else messes up, learn your lesson too. But let the pain go. You will gain a lot of freedom to see the good things, both in other people and yourself, if you detach from the pain you suffered in the past. Don’t let it mess up the present but enjoy it as best as you can.
- Be reflective
This is important as well. I found myself stuck in some really
shitty unfulfilling relationships in the past. The longer my relationships have been going, the less I questioned their value in my life. But this is a question I introduced into my life when I started my journey towards minimalism (more on that in another article): Does this ____ (relationship, thing, gadget, whatever) add value to my life? I think it’s a questions worth asking. Many times we accept things as they are, because they’ve been like this for years. But relationships change, people change. Sometimes both persons change in different directions. This must not be a bad thing for your relationship, but it might. And it’s really important to notice the difference. As I questioned all my relationships, it lead to two possible outcomes: Either I found more appreciation in the relationships I want to keep involing in, or I learned that I need to let go some of those that hold me back from the journey I want to travel.