Outside the realm of physical movement, this is my favorite area of expertise. Quality of Life is the undercurrent of what I am about. You may have noticed throughout the site that I speak of physical practices being sustainable- practices that we can practice for a lifetime. I believe all of these mental practices and philosophies below are not only sustainable, but help increase the longevity and overall quality of our lives. For me, the following traits and qualities are what creates my lifestyle. It is my hope that you gain insight or inspiration from them.
Make no mistake, minimalism or our perceived sense of it, is one of the more powerful practices we can offer ourselves. But it’s important to clarify what kind we’re talking about here. I do not mean possessing one fork, one pair jeans, a t-shirt, and calling it a day. Nor am I suggesting you live out of a backpack or using your friends for couch surfing. My brand of minimalism goes hand-in-hand with decluttering your living space and workspace to such a degree, that there’s nothing superfluous and unnecessary left to clutter your brain or sense of space. It’s a philosophy of emptying the space around you rather than filling it.
In my garage for instance, there’s a car, a bike, a place to store all of my motorcycle gear, a trashcan, and a couple storage bins for things I regularly use. That’s it! My bedroom consists of a custom made bed, two night tables, a lamp, two gorgeous chairs, some handstand parallelettes, a big bouncy ball, an Asian screen, a wood-burning fireplace, and a set of AirPlay speakers. Inside my closet you’ll find only what’s supposed to be there: clothes that I think look absolutely fantastic on me, bed linens and nothing more. There are a couple bags for travel, and nothing more. Open any cabinet or drawer, look on any shelf and they are practically empty. No extra stuff just in case, no “I may need this five years from now,” no excess. I’ve discovered over years that if it sits in a drawer or is invisible to the eyes I am probably are not using it and therefore it gets gifted or thrown away.
Now for me it’s a fun practice to be both vibrantly abundant and extremely minimal. My closet is chalk full of clothes. My pantry is full of delicious treats, and I probably Have five types of shower gel depending on my mood. I love having the latest technology- I’ve got an iMac, iPad, iPod and iPhone… But there is nothing that possess that I do not use on a regular basis. There is nothing extra, and nothing that I don’t love and appreciate. That’s another determining factor of whether I’ll keep something or now: when I look at it or use it or wear it do I feel immense pleasure and appreciation? It’s not about trying to ‘survive’ having the bare minimum or only what you ‘need’ to live. In my view of the world, it is having everything you want in any quantity that you want, as long as it’s not cluttering your space, and you’re regularly using, loving, or appreciating it. If the focus was on need, then we could all live in an efficiency with a bed, a mini fridge and a hotplate, and that’s no fun.
My personal taste for lifestyle combines minimalism with luxury that combination affords an extraordinary sense of well-being.
I have never believed that to live luxuriously, you have to buy top shelf items an stay in five star hotels- but that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge from time to time. There are many ways to feel luxurious and elegant without an enormous outlay of cash. That said, an iPad is still $500, and a Tempur-pedic bed is still $4000. You have to start somewhere. I have built up my luxury collection over time, and every time I bring something luxurious in, I usually send something outdated out. A sense of luxury can come from spaciousness, deep breathing, and even the way you carry yourself. A sense of luxury can come from the way you organize a room, and the color scheme you choose. It can be treating yourself to three pairs of pants when you find a style that you absolutely love and adore, but getting rid of three older ones that don’t flatter. I feel the most luxurious inside a large, clean living space with lots of light and high ceilings that has tasteful decor placed in a way that feels welcoming and relaxing.
So I feel that luxury is something that we give ourselves. It cannot be measured by anyone else’s standard nor should it. If you enjoy feeling luxurious and abundant, it’s a nice gift to yourself to do those things fully, without the guilt trip of whether it is wrong or right or if you deserve to indulge or not.
To enjoy a luxurious lifestyle you cannot put your focus exclusively on what you ‘need’ to ‘survive’ and feel luxurious at the same time. It has to be about what you ‘want.’
Admittedly, we live in a world where laziness and doing less reigns supreme. Yet many of us walk around with an uncanny sense that if we want to be valued, or we want to be worthy, that we should regularly be in uncomfortable situations. I used to be told when I was younger for example that if I wanted to get anywhere in life with my business, that I would need to work 60 hour work weeks. That didn’t work out so well for me. My comfort philosophy is as follows: when it comes to goals that I want to achieve or things that I am interested in learning, I believe in pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I believe in taking steps every day that are challenging for me so that I can grow and expand.
However, when it comes to sitting down on my sofa or bed, I am never going to buy some massively uncomfortable piece of contemporary furniture simply because it looks spectacular but feels like cement when I sit on it. With lifestyle items like design around house, my car, bike, or what I wear, I do not sacrifice my physical comfort to look good or have my environment look good.
It is possible to have gorgeous furniture and possessions and look phenomenal in clothing that does not make you feel pain or discomfort when you wear or use them.
It’s an interesting way to live, because I have found that when you expect that you need to be uncomfortable to benefit from a situation, then you’ll attract situations that test your level of comfort. But since I have been living comfortably, I continue to find myself in regularly comfortable situations which I find pleasant. Now most people have a bone to pick with me on this one because they say why do you always need to be comfortable? And what are you going to do when you cannot control your circumstances around you and you are in fact uncomfortable or are out somewhere that has a chair that you dislike? In these cases its perfectly fine to be uncomfortable. It creates this great contrast and reminds me why I enjoy being comfortable and helps me appreciate the times that I am. It’s not a mandate or a total renunciation of physical discomfort, it’s simply a preference that I use when it’s available to me and it makes a world of difference.
I’m a fan of cutting edge high-technology that makes life easier. When Siri was first brought to the iPhone, it truly changed my life and change the way I interact with the world. I dictate nearly all of my emails and text messages, and that has save my fingers and wrists from a great deal of excess use. (Thus keeping me in comfort) I am so unattracted to wires that I have really push the envelope for having a truly wireless house when it comes to music. Now with only a couple taps on my phone or iPad, I can send music to any room of the house without wires. I cannot remember the last time I’ve taken a key in or out of my pocket to lock or unlock my vehicle. The brilliance of the sensor inside of the handle when I enter my car and a pushbutton start makes a world of difference.
I love these things. Are they necessary? No. Few things are. But they increase the quality of my life drastically.
ABUNDANCE AND SPACE
Today, it’s all the rage to try to cram oneself into the tiniest and smallest living quarters possible. Why? It’s not even about what people can afford anymore, with the exception of New York and San Francisco, as there are almost always larger and equally comparable places to enjoy that afford you a great deal more space. Animals have the whole world to move about freely in. Don’t you want to have a little bit of space to move around in, breathe and frankly think without feeling encroached upon by four walls? Personally I do not want my bathroom within earshot of my bedroom and I don’t want my bedroom anywhere near my kitchen. Lately, I have seen 800, 600 and to my shock and amazement, 400 square foot residences, still renting in the thousands mind you, along with people eager to move in. I won’t do it. I need room to think an create.
I find space creates a feeling of abundance which means a lack of scarcity. Lots of space, without a lot of possessions yields a very unique living experience. It actually gives you a playground, it gives you space to be creative. With an abundance of empty space, I don’t need to rent a studio space to do activities like Acro and dance. I don’t need to find a gym to workout in and I don’t need to worry about where people will sit if I have a few friends over. It is my strong belief that a feeling of spaciousness helps eliminate lack out of your life.
Lack of clutter and spaciousness go hand in hand. When I was 20, and living in a spacious apartment in Santa Monica I read a book called, “Clearing your clutter and colon with Feng Shui.” I was living with two Italian roommates and frankly between the three of us we hardly had any possessions at all. Or so I thought. Within days of reading the book I had accumulated 4 large black garbage bags of clothes and STUFF that I just didn’t need or use anymore and I gave it all away to my friends. My room I was renting, which contained all of my possessions at the time, felt amazing to be in. The whole energy changed. And the whole energy changed my life. It was the most liberating experience I ever had, and, within two weeks an opportunity came and I left everything to move to Italy for a year which paved the way to the life I lead now. Since then I have never looked back on letting go of possessions. Tchotchkes, trinkets, kitsch, thingamabobs, knickknacks, whosie-whatsits, doodad, doohickey… look at the horrible names we use to describe the garbage we don’t need. It should just be called crap, and then we wouldn’t have a problem getting rid of it.
I’ll write several articles on this but I cannot speak enough about letting go of stuff you don’t need. Read a book on it, go online, or just start decluttering your environment. For most of us, 80% of what we own is entirely useless and untouched. By law of the 80 / 20 principle it has to be. You simply cannot use, look at and admire every single thing you own in your living space. I have decluttered my space to the point of absurdity and I am forever amazed at how I continue to find things that I own but do not use or need.
By letting go of that which we don’t need, we free ourselves up to endless possibilities of new people, experiences and yes even things coming our way for us to enjoy. There is nothing that any of us want for any reason other than that in the having of it we believe it will make us feel good or feel happier. After a good clearing, choose your possessions wisely and bring consciousness to every single item you bring into your home: bags, receipts, magazines, mail, shopping additions… You’ll immediately notice how good it feels!
This is a principle that I have used most of my life but has really come to light when training in Thai Massage. The idea is that while you are doing something like helping another, exercising, driving, massaging… to not put yourself in a position that compromises your own physical comfort in your body. The idea probably strikes most as selfish. When we give to someone, shouldn’t we sacrifice our own comfort, for the comfort of others? Shouldn’t we suffer, so that someone else can feel good? And in non life threatening situations, the answer is a resounding no! We are actually at our highest capacity to give when we are the most comfortable. I don’t know about you but when I see people who are really sick, weak, stressed or run down – they have very little to give. When I come across vital, healthy people who put their well being first, I am amazed at how inspired I am by their endless capacity to help.
Or say I’m sitting on a hardwood floor and my toes are scrunched up beneath me causing excruciating pain, but I am trying to give the person I am touching an amazing and relaxing experience, how can I possibly give them everything I’ve got when I am in pain? How can I not telegraph right through my fingers and my whole energy field actually that I am not comfortable and leave them feeling uncomfortable? And think about it, do you really want to receive pleasure from someone who is enduring great pain for you to feel good? Maybe for masochists, but the general consensus is no.
It’s a fine line to play between not inconveniencing oneself to help another which unattractive on all levels and not putting yourself in physically uncomfortable situations while helping or giving to someone else. This is very different than stepping outside your comfort zone or choosing to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation for personal growth. To keep it simple, I have discovered that when I feel good, I want others to feel good with me and am inspired to help. When I’m shining, and my body feels at its best, I want to inspire and share it with others. Try it out for yourself next time you can. You’ll feel a difference.
How we dress has a measurable influence on our life and can influence how we feel. I understand fashion is not for everyone. But in my own life, even though I am confident on the inside, I have always appreciated the extra little pop or burst of confidence that comes from feeling like I look great in the clothes I’m wearing. Believe me, my heart is in the right place for those of you who dream of a world where the way we look doesn’t matter, and what we wear is irrelevant. I get it. At the same time, we are here on this planet and we do have to wear clothes. Why not make it fun? Why not make it exquisite? Sweats are great for sure, but I also recently discovered a pair of pants that allows me to actually do acrobatics and work out in them but I can dress them up as well and they look as though I’m wearing a pair of high-fashion Prada couture slacks!
It’s important to know which types of clothing respond best to your body type and skin tone and personality. I think it’s life-changing to know which colors look great on you. Can you pull off stripes and checkers and plaids or are you more of an earth tones person? I’ve discovered about myself that I will always choose a V-neck over a standard collar. I know that I look better in custom tailored clothing rather than loose and baggy. And I have also discovered that I cannot do brown or loud colors like orange or lime green (Nor would I want to!). If you’re a man, and you’re not sure where to get started, a great thing to do is solicit the help of a woman you find attractive or whose opinion you respect, or even asking more than one of the girls who’s working in the store your shopping in.
Nothing brings a living environment together better than the right colors. Lately I’ve been into silver sage, sea foam greens, tropical ocean blues, sunsets, oceans, butter yellows and anything else that. Classy, timeless colors never go out of style and always feel good when you look at them.
CLASS & CHARM
In to everything that I touch, say or do, I try to bring an element of class, charm, grace and elegance. This one is generally unspoken but I think it’s best described as a way of carrying yourself that makes you feel great.
WIT & BANTER
Witty banter is the rallying back-and-forth of intelligent, sometimes sensual, and often warlike but playful words with another. It involves wit, charm, and being a cunning linguist. It calls into question your deepest vocabulary, and your ability to intricately blend words in a way that makes your partner say, cock an eyebrow. It engages the brain, heightens the senses, and builds excitement and tension between two people. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the movie Dangerous Liaisons will leave you speechless. It is the best example of witty banter that I can think of.
Witty banter happen spontaneously and out of nowhere. Sometimes it briefly comes out between two friends, or sometimes I’ll meet someone new and it’s just pours out. But it is something that I always appreciate when it becomes active in me. I think it has to do with my love for words and languages. I speak English, Spanish, and Italian, and am aiming to learn French and Russian. I’ve always had a strong adoration of words. I can remember as early as the fifth grade when I would hear friends use the same words like good, bad, awesome, and gross to describe everything. I was mortified by the fact that all my peers only had a four word vocabulary to solicit their emotions. Languages are rich, and intricate, and full of ways for us to express ourself, and I am a big advocate of carefully selecting each of our words, as though you were plucking fine chocolate truffles off a six tier dessert tray, selectively and cautiously contemplating each one before making a selection.