After an interesting little chat in the chatroom, I thought I'd create this as a topic for discussion - a few of us all came to realise as we talked that we all were quite minimalist in out outlooks, namely that we didn't really value "possessions" for their own sake, but rather tended to own only things that we really needed or gave real value to our lives in some ways.
For those of you who aren't sure, minimalism is not necessarily about living like a monk and having no possessions, nor is it about being cheap. It's simply about only owning stuff that has real value in your life. So I have a laptop, a tablet and a good smartphone (all the latest model when I bought them except the smartphone which was the latest model minus one - but none of them upgraded even though newer models have come out) because I use it all for work and I get a lot of value out of it personally (Netflix instead of having a TV, Kindle instead of buying books etc) and although they're expensive products, I use them a lot and they provide a lot to my life. On the other hand, I don't own many clothes and I'm actually looking to get rid of some clothes rather than buy more - once again I'm keeping the stuff that looks really good on me and throwing the rest out. Although I love reading, I'm actually getting rid of all of my books (already gone down from over a thousand to about 100) - books that I really want to keep I'm rebuying on Kindle, since I still love reading, I just don't want to have to carry around hundreds of books in my life.
The point I raised in chat, which the two people agreed with, was that in this community one of the things we do is question the social explanations we're given - e.g. conventional wisdom suggests buying dinners, taking women on dates etc as a means to getting laid/starting a relationship. On this forum we test these assumptions and find that there are much better ways of doing things. This means that we're actually fairly unique in the world, because there are people who follow all sorts of social conventions without ever questioning them. I believe that by questioning and achieving in one area of our lives, we tend to question in others as well (either getting good at PUA makes us question other stuff OR by being a questioning type we find PUA). The rampant consumerism that affects a lot our world pushes a STUFF = HAPPINESS mindset which is obviously designed to make more money for corporations and the people who own them. But is it necessarily best for us?
One interesting exercise is to make a list of the ten most expensive things you own, then make a list of the ten things you own that give you the most joy in your life. Then check how many things are on both lists. The idea is that the unexamined life will have little-to-no crossover between those lists. I.E. that expensive car you just bought gives you a temporary boost in happiness but then as you get used to it, it fades until you're at your original level of happiness.
Here's a little comedy bit by George Carlin about stuff, which some of you may have seen before, but I really enjoy:
Anyone else a minimalist or at least in some way opposed to consumerism (and by opposed I don't mean just says it, but actually lives it)? I'm not trying to convert anyone here, by the way, I just found it interesting that this subject, to the best of my knowledge, has never been discussed here, yet three different members of this community (which as previously stated is about questioning assumptions) have questioned assumptions in other areas of their lives and come to the same conclusions. Is there a certain type of person here (someone who values happiness and/or freedom more than anything else, perhaps?) that you just don't get in 'normal' society - someone who wants demonstrable results rather than useless, but feel-good, advice?
What other ways are people examining their lives and coming to radically different conclusions? Although I didn't really talk about this much, I read http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com - the guy who writes there, Ramit Sethi, is essentially the PUA of the personal finance world - shuns the traditional feel-good advice and gets to the real results through merciless testing of empirical data - which sounds exactly like what Blackdragon did with his online dating stuff. It seems that questioning one set of assumptions (e.g. women) also leads to questioning others (e.g. money, possession, happiness). I guess I'm trying to work out if it's a) the sort of person you are or b) getting results in one area sparks you to try others.