16 Simple Ways to Clear Your Mind

November 30th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

Mind-clutter is one of the biggest obstacles that I encounter daily on the path to my goals. I imagine you know what I’m talking about, the constant chatterbox that is our human brain.

Brains are useful things, they help you do a lot of incredibly cool stuff. But sometimes they just won’t shut up. There’s a lot going on most of the time, so who can really blame our minds for wanting to over-analyze everything? Except a lot of brain-clutter can be a problem when you’re trying to accomplish anything.

A cluttered mind can keep you from achieving your potential in most situations.

Sometimes brains get stuck on problems. They get into a pattern where they’re constantly trying to imagine what’s going to happen to you next, or worse, they second guess all of your actions.

A healthy mind will help you accomplish goals when you need it to, an unhealthy mind will sabotage you before you even start working.

If you haven’t noticed, I’m a minimalist, and in my opinion excessive thinking is just as problematic as having an excessive amount of things. This is one of the many reasons why I find it important to employ a number of de-cluttering activities with my mind. I try to engage in at least one of these activities a day.

If my mind clutter is too much at any one moment, I will acknowledge that my mind is overwhelmed. When this happens, I immediately turn off whatever I’m doing and begin one of these activities below.

Sometimes I will dedicate an entire day to clearing my mind. I will mark a day off my calendar and simply spend it meditating and rejuvenating my mind. I’ve done this many times, and it can increase my mind’s effectiveness two-fold when I return to normal activities.

A mind is most effective at zero.

The purpose of all of these exercises is to reset your mind to zero. This is a place where there is no conversation.

Part of the mind reset process is first acknowledging that you don’t need the thoughts floating around your head. For some people the constant background noise in their mind is comforting, but none of these exercises will help you of you enjoy the company of a mind that won’t shut up.

The best way to approach getting over the problem of being comforted by a chattering mind is to recognize that there is a huge difference between a conversation with yourself in your brain and actual thinking.

I’ve read a number of books on Buddhist and Yogic philosophy that teach of abolishing the inner conversation with yourself. I believe these authors have it right, the mind must be quiet for actions to come to their full potential.

The preconception that you can think through any activity before you do it is false. While there are important elements of planning, we waste untold hours second guessing ourselves with our own minds.

By training the mind to rest at zero, you will become a far more effective person. A person who deals with obstacles as they happen with a mind that is sharp and effective.

Here are 16 simple ways to clear your mind.

  1. Sit in silence. Place a pillow on the ground somewhere in a private place, turn off the lights, and just sit for 15 minutes. Listen to the chatter in your mind, but don’t try to interact with it. Just observe your thought patterns, eventually they will begin to subside. Try sitting for a longer time when you can.
  2. Take a walk. Meditation while walking is one of the best ways to calm a mind. There’s something about the repetition of moving one foot in front of the next that is so relaxing. Go for a 30-minute walk with no destination. You will return with a calmed mind.
  3. Write it down. Take your thought processes out of your pre-frontal cortex and onto the page. Open a notebook, take a pen, and begin engaging in writing flow until you find that the waves of thought have subsided.
  4. Laugh it off. Sometimes life is just silly, so have a sense of humor and embrace the insanity. Laugh at the thoughts in your head, with any luck you’ll recognize by laughing at the thoughts in your head, you’ll be able to realize just how silly they are and your mind will relax.
  5. Take deep breathes. This is one of my all time favorites, I do this regularly before and after any situation that may happen. Take 10 deep inhales and exhales. Make each breath slow and deliberate. Your mind will be quiet by the end of the tenth exhale.
  6. Move slower. Make every action deliberate. Like a zen master makes tea, you will do everything that you need to do slower. Notice every motion you make from start to finish, every action from beginning to end. This will focus your mind on the task at hand, and quiet the internal babbling.
  7. Talk to someone. Sometimes the best way to quiet a mind is to talk over your thinking with another person. Don’t vent your frustrations to them, because that’s just going to lead to another frustrated person. Simply tell them what is going on in your mind, and maybe both of you can come up with a solution.
  8. Throw away your to-do list. Once in awhile the lists get too long, they become overwhelming. There are so many steps or actions that you need to take in day-to-day life that you may never see the end. Why not just abandon whatever it is you’re doing? One of the best skills that anyone can master is the ability to learn how to quit, when the time is right to do so. Take this moment to quit, and your mind won’t have anything to worry about anymore.
  9. Lie on the floor. Nothing can beat a good lie on the floor. Wherever you are, just stop doing what you’re doing and fall backwards. Though, be sure to take look behind you to make sure there is nothing you will hit. Then stay on the floor for 15 minutes and just breathe.
  10. Make a sandwich. The action of deliberately preparing the bread, spreading hummus, cutting greens, and slicing meat can be a great way to clear your mind. Be sure to take as much time as possible making the sandwich, do not rush. By the time you take the first bite, your mind will be silent.
  11. Do the dishes. Buddhist teachers love doing their dishes, and with good reason. The act of slowly cleaning one dish, washing, and drying it, is a powerful way to focus and calm the mind. The advent of dish-washing machines really has robbed us of a ritual we all can use to our advantage.
  12. Take a shower. Step into a steaming hot shower and just bathe in the warmth. This can be a powerful mind-clearer. Don’t rush the shower, just let the water flow over your hair and down your body. A hot shower, particularly before going to bed, can calm even the most active mind.
  13. Light a candle. The flicker of candle light can be a powerful way to calm your thoughts. Set the candle in a place near where you can sit comfortably. Take a match, strike it, and watch the wax melt.
  14. Listen to relaxing music. There’s nothing like calming music to quiet your brain. Turn on some soft music, ideally without lyrics, and observe your mind as the thoughts fade away.
  15. Do a yoga inversion. Another one of the best ways to calm a mind is to turn yourself upside down. My favorite way to do this quickly, is to slide into Sarvangasana, or shoulder stand. In this yoga pose you support your lower back with your hands and lift your feet over your head. This pose changes the blood flow through the body in order to promote a healthy quiet mind.
  16. Let go of the problem. In certain cases you may be plagued by something that you just can’t handle, you won’t be able to find a solution, you won’t be able to achieve everything you ever wanted. Tell yourself that can’t do this. That’s okay, you tried. Make space for the next ambitious goal, and let this one go.

Breathing in, I calm body & mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know that this is the only moment. –Thich Nhat Hanh

What is your favorite way to clear your mind? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

If you enjoyed reading this story, please share it with someone who it could benefit. Thank you.

How Being Less Productive Can Generate Big Ideas

November 27th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Productivity is such a popular concept. Everyone is trying to streamline their lives so they can get more and more done during their 40-60 hour workweek.

Funny, that, because being productive is the exact opposite of what everyone needs to be doing to get ahead in the modern workplace.

Productivity is a trap.

You’ve bought into this idea of a safe productive workplace, where everyone does their part and the company gets ahead, and so you get a raise, right?

Doing 60 hours a week of mundane productive work is useful, if you’re a cubicle-bound widget pusher. Large industrialized corporations reward workers for how many ticks they tock in the collective board every day.

I know, I’ve been to cubicle-nation. It ain’t pretty.

If you work in a cubicle, take a moment and think about the last person who got a promotion at your company. Was it a widget pushing productivity master? Probably not. I bet it was someone who either:

  1. Had a big idea.
  2. Brought in a lot of money because of a big idea.

I bet you want to know what the secret to having big ideas is… it’s simple really.

Let me propose a minimalist way of working: be less productive.

Big ideas don’t drop into your head for no apparent reason, you have to take time to cultivate them. Just as you can’t grow an avocado tree in a desert, you can’t grow big ideas in a brain that is dumbly moving from one mundane task to the next as fast as possible.

Big ideas need a lot of space to grow up in, they need vast open fertile fields in which to frolic. You need a minimalist mindset towards your brain in order to start thinking big.

If you make space in your brain for big ideas to form:

  1. You will be respected by your peers
  2. You will rise to the top of your organization
  3. You will have more spare time for yourself, your friends, and your family.
  4. You will make more money

If you’re not making time for big ideas to form, it’s time to start now.

Be careful though, many cubicle nations aren’t happy when their lower-level employees stop pushing widgets and start dreaming. Big idea generation is like hunting for wild game in the forest, you need to be quiet in order to discover them –before your boss finds out you’re thinking and sends you packing!

Remember, you are on your own. I cannot be held responsible for big thinkers who blow their cover before they have a good idea to defend themselves with. Be sure to ‘look busy’ whenever your manager is looking over your shoulder.

How to be less productive and think of big ideas.

  1. Be less productive. Take inventory of everything that you have to do in a given day, write down a list. Chances are that you’re trying to spread out the work you do over an 8-hour day, because you feel that you’re supposed to work that way. Organize your day into specific sections. For instance: TPS reports get done between 1:00-1:30pm, sales calls between 9:00-11:00am. Stick to a schedule and don’t let tasks bleed over into non-scheduled blocks. The idea here is to get work done so you can have time to think of bigger things.
  2. Use communication consciously. A lot of people roll into the office (or out of bed!) and check their email immediately. This is a bad policy, as you’re going to be immediately inundated with multiple tasks that ‘need to be done now!!!’. You probably have more important things to do than reply to email emergencies that happen in the morning. Finish one important task in the morning, before you check email. When you get emails from colleagues requesting that you put out fires, wait 30-45 minutes before replying. Fires have a way of going out by themselves if you don’t step in to save people. Go a step further: only check communications devices at set intervals daily.
  3. Delegate stupid repetitive tasks. Do you have a lot of unengaging work assignments that has to be done every day? Find a way to get these out of your domain. There are three places stupid mindless work should go: 1, send it to someone who works under you, like an intern or an assistant; 2, make a computer do it; 3, don’t do the task at all. Just stop doing the task and see if the company falls apart, did it? No probably not.
  4. Firewall your time. Once you’ve delegated stupid tasks and started completing important work quickly, don’t let anyone suck you away from your big idea generating time. Lock your office door, put on the headphones if you work in a cubicle. Go for regular breaks outside and enjoy the morning air. But DON’T let people pull your attention away for mundane reasons. Tell people you are very busy, there are vast deadlines that are approaching. “Sorry, I wish I could help you, but I’m swamped with work right now.” Even if you’re simply generating big ideas, this is an effective response.
  5. Stop going to meetings. These gatherings are often fruitless wastes of time. They’re fine once a month to make sure everyone is on the same page, but hours of endless unproductive meetings are a sign of weak management. When people insist on hosting meetings for nonsense reasons, there are a few strategies for avoiding them. First try telling your colleagues that you have too much work to do, you can’t fit in the meeting. If that doesn’t work, ‘accidentally’ forget about the meeting. Ask forgiveness later, use the time wisely to generate big ideas.
  6. Don’t listen to anyone. There are always people at work who will try and squash big ideas. These are the people who are negative about everything, who have worked in cubicle nation for so long they don’t know there’s a world outside their cardboard walls. You can identify these people easily, they cluster around the water cooler and complain about their sad lives and gossip about other employees. Don’t engage in these types, get as far away from them as possible. They will drag you and your big ideas down. Don’t believe me? As a test try asking any of their opinions about your big idea. Chances are they will reply with ‘oh, that’ll never work.’ or ‘That’d be great if it was a perfect world.’ or something similarly not-helpful.
  7. Go home early. The best way to make big idea thinking time is to get out of the office as quickly as possible. Don’t stay a minute past 5pm, have your bag ready and get the hell out of cubicle-nation. Don’t take work home with you. When I was working a desk, commonly I would receive the biggest requests of the day at 4:59pm, which was insane. Do what I did, tell these people the work will get done tomorrow, and go home. Work has a way of filling up as much time as you give it, if you tell your work day that it will only exist for 8 hours a day, you will only have to work that much.

Please keep in mind that the above suggestions are for people who want to dedicate their spare time to generating big ideas. Not for people who want an excuse to be lazy.

Generating and executing big ideas will get you promoted, being lazy will get you fired. These suggestions will have very different results for people who want an excuse to slack off.

For more on this subject, you should check out Hugh McLeod’s book Ignore Everybody. It’s an excellent collection of short ideas about being creative and avoiding cubicle nation by a man who spent a lot of time in advertising. You can also check out Hugh’s blog, Gaping Void.

5 Simple Reasons to be Thankful for Being Minimalist

November 26th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

There are a lot of reasons to be thankful for living a simple minimalist life. Here are the five that came to my mind just now.

I’m thankful for…

  1. Having peace of mind. I love that all of my important stuff fits in a bag that I can carry anywhere with me. I can be anywhere, and not have to worry about anything bad happening to my stuff. There’s no need to worry about overdue project deadlines, as I have the time to do them immediately. Peace of mind is beautiful. How being minimalist can lead to peace of mind.
  2. Being able to focus on the important. To me, being minimalist is about time management. The world is overflowing with distractions, and it’s easy to get sucked into doing things that you’re not really interested in. Being able to opt out of that chaos, and focus on what you really want to achieve is incredibly important. How to stop doing the unimportant.
  3. That there is no clutter in my life. Once in awhile someone will ask me ‘should I keep this tiny bit of broken plastic in a drawer somewhere?’ and I say ‘no, recycle it, you don’t need it.’ and they think I’m crazy and save it anyway. Isn’t saving broken things in drawers silly? A lot of people will think you’re weird for being minimalist, but the funny thing is, the joke is on them. Minimalists are going on vacation five times a year (or working from a beach all year), and the clutterers are spending all of that time sorting through drawers full of broken crap. How to unclutter your life.
  4. Having the time to focus on eating right. I always have time to prepare meals for myself that are made out of healthy ingredients that come from real food (like vegetables!) Processed foods are so bad for you, especially corn in a can. High fructose corn syrup is just insane, why do so many people drink refined grains? The ability to eat food that’s made out of food is definitely worth being thankful for. How to eat real food.
  5. Attaining freedom from location. I’m incredibly thankful for being able to actually be in Chicago for thanksgiving this year. In previous years I was always tied to a job that would only give me Thursday off, so it was impossible to fly home. In a week I’ll be working from my girlfriend’s apartment back in Brooklyn, then I’ll fly back to Chicago and spend New Years at a lodge in Wisconsin. Achieving freedom from location is not easy, but the benefits are endless. How to achieve location independence.


What are you thankful for?

An Interview with Colin Wright: The Freedom of Working From Anywhere in Sexy Shoes

November 25th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Every Wednesday on Far Beyond The Stars I interview an important person on the subject of being minimalist.

Last week we visited with David Damron of A Minimalist Path, he spoke about plastic bag usage in the US and how to make your life more minimal.

Next week I’m excited to speak with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Mnmlist. Be sure to sign up for free updates so you don’t miss the interview!


For today’s interview, I spoke with Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle. Colin writes about location independent lifestyle design, and just published an outstanding free e-book on How to be Remarkable.

We talked about the challenge of moving to new countries every four months, minimizing possessions, working exclusively online, and his sexy shoes.

Check out the interview below!

Everett Bogue: You’ve set a goal of moving every four months to another country, which I imagine means that you’ve had to really streamline your possessions. What are the essential possessions that you take on on the road for a project like yours?

Colin Wright: Oh man, did I ever streamline. I went from having a two-story townhouse full of stuff (5 computers, a room-sized closet full of clothing, a car AND a scooter AND a bike, etc) to owning only what will fit in a single carry-on bag.

It’s been a major shift, but a really liberating one.

My essentials right now include:

  • Macbook Pro – this allows me to work from anywhere in the world
  • iPod Touch – for music and movies while traveling, but also to read books (I go through 6-8 per month), since I’ve gone paperless (except for toilet paper and business cards) and only read ebooks these days
  • Sexy shoes – they don’t necessarily have to be sexy, but they do have to be comfortable and versatile…the pair I got are Diesel’s that work well with a t-shirt and jeans, or to go clubbing equally well
  • One really awesome pair of jeans – mine are from Paper, Denim and Cloth. I’m not usually a $300 pair of jeans guy, but when you’re going to be wearing the same pair for good portion of your week, you want something sturdy, reliable and good-looking
  • Unlocked RAZR – I sold my iPhone when I left LA, and intentionally purchased the worst mobile phone I could find. I snagged a sweet deal on a refurbished and unlocked RAZR so that as I travel I can pop in local SIM cards.
  • Slim Slimmy Wallet – This is kind of a niche item, but in a lot of countries pick-pocketing is a lot worse than in the US, and Argentina is no exception. A good way to avoid having to worry about this is to get a super-slim, super-minimalist front-pocket wallet, which not only forces you to reduce the number of cards and such that you carry, but also keeps people from ganking your cash in a crowd
  • Panasonic LX3 Camera – I went with the LX3 instead of the Canon G10 because the processor is bigger and because it shoots HD-quality video

There’s not really much else…I have a half-dozen shirts, a few other pairs of pants, a newsie-style hat, 2 jackets (1 super-casual, 1 much nicer), a messenger bag, a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes and some flip-flops. Most of these things are expendable, though, and I could definitely live without them or easily exchange/replace them.

BE: What was the hardest thing to leave behind when you left the country?

CW: Haha, well, one answer is ‘my friends,’ but I imagine you’re looking for something tangible, so definitely my iPhone. I became a bit dependent on it, always checking the GPS or my email or using it to take notes. It was crazy handy to have with me, but I didn’t want to depend on it while traveling and miss out on the confusion and learning experiences I would have without it.

So bye-bye iPhone. I miss you.

EB: When I relocate to a new place, one of the biggest struggles is finding semi-permanent place to live. Could you briefly outline the steps that you took to obtaining your current living situation?

CW: I actually tried really hard to challenge myself with this one. I know that I’ll be moving to a lot of different places, and I won’t always have connections or the ability to reserve a place ahead of time, so I decided to give myself two days in a hotel once I arrived in Buenos Aires in which to find an apartment.

In those two days I must have walked 40 miles, going from place to place looking for an apartment in my price range to rent. Eventually I found an agency that helps people from out of town rent furnished apartments longer term. I had to figure out ways around the system (the ATMs here only let you take out a certain amount of cash per day, this agency doesn’t take plastic, and I had to pay everything up front!), but I’ve found that in most cases, people will help you out if they can, even if it means breaking the rules a little.

EB: I’ve noticed that you’re attempting to engage in the post geo-graphical world by taking your business online. What is the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome in finding clients that will work with someone who they can’t meet in person?

CW: To be perfectly honest, most of what I’ve done for a long time has taken place online. I still do print design from time to time, but a lot of my work now is either web design and development or consultations; both are easy to do via email or Skype.

Some of my clients that are a little more old school initially had issues with it. However, after going back and forth a bit and showing them that working with them online from Buenos Aires isn’t much different from working with them online in Los Angeles, their concerns are largely assuaged.

EB: What is the most rewarding aspect of taking yourself and your business completely mobile?

CW: It’s amazing how not having a home can remove so much stress. All of a sudden I can travel without worrying about where my car is parked or if there are termites in my apartment or if I left the oven on…everything that I own in the world is right here with me.

Being able to travel to far-flung places has been great for building my network, too. I’ve met some absolutely AMAZING people here in Buenos Aires, and a lot of them also just happen to be great business connections. I’m going to do my best to help them, they’ll do their best to help me, and hopefully I can continue to build my network throughout the rest of the world.

EB: What is the number one way that you are pursuing income automation and how much success with it have you had so far?

CW: I’ve tried a number of different tactics – ads, affiliates, outsourcing, etc – and have found that none of the major existing methods of automating income is really my cup of tea. I care too much about my reputation and the design of my sites to inundate them with banners, I don’t want to risk losing my legitimacy by pitching too many products, and on and on.

At this point I’m basically planning on using Exile Lifestyle as a launch pad for businesses forking off in a few different directions.

My endgame for writing is to get a book published, and in pursuit of this I’m creating a lot of written content, making an effort to get out into the world and do interesting things and make connections that could lead to that kind of deal. I’m also looking at options related to creating video content, educational modules and even clothing (I’ve done illustrations and graphics for many t-shirts over the years).

My main focus is providing value, building a solid community and upping my numbers so that if and when an opportunity comes around to make use of the brand I’m building, I’ll be ready for it.

Check out Exile Lifestyle, and definitely read Colin’s free e-book on How to be Remarkable.


Are you interested in being interviewed about being minimalist? Drop me a note on Twitter.

It’s a Minimalist Christmas! How to Give (what matters) This Holiday Season

November 24th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

Uh oh, it’s almost Black Friday.

Hopefully the idea of running out to consume, after you’ve consumed all of that turkey, gives the shudders. It certainly gives them to me. The idea of people cramming half-off things into shopping cards actually makes me want to lock myself in the cellar and reemerge after the holidays are over.

Nothing is sadder than running around a store frantically trying to buy useless things at a discount, then pawning them off on some poor friend or family member who has to deal with that object until they can safely throw it away without you noticing.

Stop buying stupid stuff, especially for other people. Please!

The whole idea behind Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate is giving right? Let’s take a moment to think about what giving actually means.

You can give by:

  • Helping someone live a better life.
  • Making someone smile.
  • Helping someone achieve something.
  • Making someone feel good.
  • Giving someone an opportunity that they would otherwise have.

Nowhere that definition can I see ‘giving is another useless plastic object they can put in the closet.’

Most of us have everything that we will ever need already. I only have 97 things, and I still think that’s way too much. I don’t need anything else.

To be honest, if I received anything that I couldn’t immediately benefit me every single day of the year, I’d ask that the person who gave it to me to return it.

I challenge you to give a gift that actually means something to every person you know this Christmas.

Five minimalist Christmas gifts:

  1. Dinner. I love cooking for people, this is a great way to show to someone that you appreciate them. One way to do this is to give someone a small card inviting them to dinner. If you’re a terrible cook, take them out for dinner.
  2. Wine. You can share it and it makes you tipsy. Not Yellowtail or Two Buck Chuck. Good wine, the kind that comes in a bottle and costs a little more than average. A good place to start is a bottle that you’ve personally enjoyed.
  3. Knowledge. Buy someone a book that they may read, but MAKE SURE it’s a good one. There are a lot of crappy books out there, and no one wants a book from the sale rack. Stick with the bestseller lists, or books that you’ve personally learned a great deal from. If this confuses you, a gift card to a bookstore will do.
  4. Money. It’s usable for a lot of things, such as paying down student loan debt or buying groceries.
  5. Opportunities. Get someone an interview somewhere. Give them a recommendation. Expose a person to the right environment or ideas.

Think about it, and look at that list again. You want all of those things, don’t you? Maybe not the Wine, but you can supplement that with a fine beverage that suits you or chocolate.

If you give plastic crap you will get plastic crap.

If you give what you want, you will get what you want.

It’s really that simple.


If you want to, send this story to everyone on your Christmas card list. I promise you will get three more bottles of wine than you did last Christmas.

The Revolution Will NOT Be Televised: How to Destroy Your TV

November 23rd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

I just read a story over at Get Rich Slowly about a frugal man who is trying to live a minimalist life, but was being made fun of by his peers for not owning a TV.

“My colleagues at work tell me that I live a miserable life, and I don’t give my family “materialistic life pleasures”. Those sort of words hurt me a lot. We don’t have a TV at our house and my colleague makes fun of this thing all the time.”

Am I the only one who thinks that’s silly?

J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly had a little to say about the situation:

“…I don’t see how the lack of television is something to mock. If anything, it ought to be praised. The most productive, least materialistic people I know are those who watch little or no television. This site would never have been built if I were a TV-watcher.”


The most productive people I know don’t watch TV.

Think about it. Television is by nature an all consuming direct form of marketing. It’s supported by advertisements trying to get you to buy the next biggest thing, the shows on it are filled with product placement and supported by ad revenue.

Companies are spending billions of dollars on psychologists and ad companies trying to get you to buy buy buy. The television shows are complacent in this scheme. — Obviously PBS is an exception, but when was the last time you watched PBS?

98% of TV is crap.

Basically, if you have a TV, you spent a lot of money on a machine that is poisoning your life. You might also be spending tons of money on cable TV, because if you think if you do that you’ll get more quality.

The average American household spends $60 on cable a month. That’s $720 a year.

Add on any On Demand movies, and that can quickly shoot past $1000. It’s so easy to order a $5 movie now, humans are stupid when they’re tired and want to watch a movie, so we just hit ‘buy’. Instead of waiting for the Netflix, or going to the library. Or maybe just reading a book?

Also, think about how many things you’ve purchased because you saw them on TV?

If you’re not outraged, I don’t know what else to tell you.

We’re being taken advantage of by the big companies marketing us products, the television companies, and the cable companies. They want us to buy and keep paying for a product that costs too much and isn’t adding anything to our lives.

In the past we had no options, but the internet has changed everything. You can now stream your favorite TV shows directly from Hulu.com and other sources. I watch The Office once a week online, it’s easy and free.

You also have free access to real information about many topics that add value to your life. Why spend an hour sitting in front of the tube when you can spend an hour conveying a revolutionary idea to an audience?

This is a call to arms. It’s time to get rid of that TV.

If you had no TV you’d be:

  • Smarter
  • Slimmer
  • Happier
  • More productive
  • Richer because you’re not paying your cable bill
  • Richer because you sold your TV and didn’t buy a new one
  • Richer because you’re getting more work done

It’s like a win-win situation, that TV has to go.

In fact, I challenge you to get rid of it now.

How to get rid of or destroy your TV.

  1. Sell your TV. Take a picture of it, fire up craigslist, and post a listing offering your TV for less than you bought it for. Try searching for your TV’s model and make on Ebay to get an approximate offering price. If you have a high quality plasma screen, you should be able to sell it in no time. If you can’t sell it within a week, reduce the price by 25%. Still nothing? Half off.
  2. Give your TV to someone who needs it. If you can’t sell your TV for money, find someone who needs a TV. Maybe a homeless shelter, or school? Donate that TV!
  3. If you can’t sell your TV, destroy it. You can do this with a sledgehammer, tying it to the back of a car, or dropping it from a five story building into a dumpster. Don’t drop it on someone, that would be bad. *Be careful, there can be residual charge on the back of the inside of screen, this can be dangerous!
  4. Turn your TV into a work of art. A painter friend of mine in New York painted the screens of three televisions we had sitting around our house. When you turned them on they did that static thing that TVs do, and we had illuminated art work. We eventually got tired of this and resorted to the sledgehammer technique.

Also, to reader Rob over at Get Rich Slowly:  Get new friends, those guys who were making fun of you for not having a television are not going anywhere in life. They’re losers.

Surround yourself with people who are intelligent, productive, and don’t watch television. You’ll be surprised how your life will change for the better. By ridding yourself of your TV you will get more done, be happier, slimmer, healthier, and have bigger ideas.


Think I’m crazy? Let me know on Twitter.

Destroyed your TV? Post a picture somewhere and leave the link in the comments.

The True Food Diet: 7 Rules for Eating Right

November 21st, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

As I write this I’m sitting in the lounge car of the Empire Builder Express, cruising through the middle of rural Montana. It’s pretty sweet.

Everyone I told that I was taking a train from Portland to Chicago had either this reaction “wow, that’s awesome!” or “you’re insane.”

I must be in the camp that feels it’s awesome.

There’s no cellphone connection in the middle of nowhere, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to upload this. (note, finally posted after I got to Chicago.)


I’ve been reading An Omnivore’s Dilemma, and though I’m not even half way through the book, I can say for certain that it’s definitely a book worth reading. Michael Pollan, like he did in In Defense of Food, dives into the problems facing our country’s food system head-on.

The first stop: Cornucopia.

You might not realize just how much corn you’re consuming in your average diet, but the quantity is astounding. A full quarter of the products in the supermarket have some form of corn in them. Coke and Pepsi is basically reduced corn juice (high fructose corn syrup). Most common-denominator meat consists of cows that are force-fed corn, which they aren’t able to digest properly, making them sick and depressed.

This makes me sad.

Reading about this subject reminded me of the dramatic change I’ve made in the way that I eat. Over the last six months, since I read Pollan’s In Defense of Food, I took his advice and started eating real food.

True food, if you will. Food that is made out of food.

There is a startling amount of “food” in the supermarket that didn’t exist fifty years ago. Most of this food exists in the isles in the middle of the grocery store filled with boxes and in freezers.

I stopped eating anything that came in a package, anything that had been processed, anything that won’t spoil. This includes veggie supplements such as soy hotdogs, veggie burgers, cereals, gogurts, etc.

I decided to abandon all of these foods. I started eating true food.

The result is that I’m an additional 10 pounds lighter than I was when I left New York. I finally don’t have a disgusting little belly anymore. It’s great. I haven’t weighed myself lately, but I estimate that I’m somewhere around 160-165 lbs. (I’m 5’11″) I had to poke a new hole in the belt that I’ve had since I was 16. When I was a teenager I weighed more than I do now, crazy!

Here’s how I did it. I promise you, if you follow these instructions you will lose weight naturally. You will also reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. But keep in mind I’m not a nutritional expert. I’m just a common sense expert who reads books on food.

If this sounds extreme, take it slow. If you’re hooked on what the food industry wants you to eat, it’s hard to get off. Start by eating one meal a week with these instructions, and gradually work your way up.

I’d also like to dedicate this post to my blog friend Gordie. If you don’t know him, he’s the world’s fattest lifestyle designer. Check out his blog.

He’s made the brave decision of choosing to change his life. Go read about what he’s doing. Drop him a note of encouragement, it would warm my heart and his!

Now onto the secret to eating right. It’s pretty obvious, why haven’t you been doing this all along?

The Seven Rules of the True Food Diet

  1. Eat mostly fresh vegetables. Make this your top priority. Buy organic vegetables (and mushrooms) from a farmer’s market, or if you can’t get to one of those a place like Wholefoods, Trader Joe’s, or whatever local organic store is near. Make 80% of your meals contain a large portion and a variety of vegetables. Not frozen, not canned. Real live actual vegetables from the produce section. If you’re feeling really brave you can get vegetables from an organic CSA (community supported agriculture–basically a direct shipment of mixed vegetables from an organic permaculture farm near you, so you avoid supporting industrial organic farming and all of the transporting that goes with it.) When I figure out where I want to live for awhile, I’m definitely joining a CSA.
  2. Eat those vegetables that are actually good for you. Kale is in, Carrots are in. Chard, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Onions, etc. There are lots of vegetables that are good for you. Avoid things that are grown in mass by the food industry, such as Soybeans, Corn (which is a grain), and Peas. Also, who gives a crap about iceberg lettuce, or even leafy spring mix? You can eat that stuff, but it’s the true healthy vegetables that rock. You’re already getting plenty of corn from sources you don’t even know you’re consuming. Just stop eating corn.
  3. Eat only free-range grass-fed beef. Cage free chickens, etc. Make sure they’re not being pumped full of antibiotics to stay alive. This will mean that the meat you buy WILL COST MORE. There’s a reason that a steak at whole foods is 150% more expensive than a steak at C-Town. It’s because the cow wasn’t force-fed corn, living in it’s own vomit and shit, until it prematurely reached adulthood and was slaughtered days later. Cheap meat is so terrible for you, we have no idea. You are what you eat, and if you’re eating meat full of antibiotics from sad cows, those meds and that sadness will be in your system too.
  4. Don’t eat in restaurants, unless they’re expensive. I only go out to eat at places that are serving good food, in a great environment. This means avoiding takeout, and after eating this diet I’d probably die if I ate fast food. Subway sandwiches are bad for you too. If you eat at quality restaurants they will feed you quality food. You will enjoy it more, there will be smaller portions, and it will come from sources that aren’t sketchy.
  5. Actually, in general try to pay more money for what you eat. If you’re buying organic food, it’s going to cost more. This is because it’s not being sprayed by chemicals and industrial fertilizers. Chemicals are in these plants, and after you eat them they will be in you. Industrial fertilizers allow plants to grow in soil that’s been depleted of all nutrients. So you’re basically just eating depleted soil and fertilizer. Yuck! That’s not food. By paying more you’re casting your vote for a food system that’s not corrupt.
  6. Prepare every meal at home from raw ingredients. When you cook yourself, it’s almost impossible to cook an unhealthy meal. You simply aren’t going to make the decision to season with monosodium glutamate or to roast your vegetables in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. If you’ve never cooked before, don’t worry. This is how you do it: get a large frying pan. Pour two-three teaspoons of olive oil in it. Put on medium heat. Chop vegetables. (Onions, Mushrooms, Chard, and Brussel Sprouts perhaps?) Put vegetables in pan. Flavor with a little pepper. Good, now you know how to make a stir-fry. If that sounds gross, there are a million other ways to cook. Just ask the internet.
  7. Eat slowly, appreciate every bite. Did you know it can take up to twenty minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full? No wonder we’re so fat. Most Americans gulp down a meal in less than 15 minutes, while driving, talking on the cellphone, and watching television simultaneously. Stop everything, this is madness. Give yourself an hour for dinner and prepare your food with love and care. When you’re done cooking, sit down at the table with yourself, or with your family, and enjoy the food. Just eat, slowly. Talk about how good it is. Because it is good, isn’t it? This way you avoid overeating by not cramming your face.

That’s it, so simple right? No quick fixes, just eating like humans are supposed to eat: a diverse diet rich in vegetables. No frozen garbage, no packaged garbage, just vegetables and some meat. I eat whole grain bread, pasta, and rice too, but in small amounts.

I prepare almost all of my meals in my kitchen out of raw ingredients. This makes me feel great, because I’m eating great and healthy. You should try it!

What I’ve said here is just the beginning. To learn more about how to eat right read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and for some history of our crazy food culture, try his An Omnivore’s Dilemma.

An interview with David Damron: Goals, Plastic, and the Freedom of Being Minimalist.

November 18th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

I’m excited to present the first in a series of interviews on being minimalist. Every Wednesday on Far Beyond The Stars, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be publishing an interview with an authority on living the minimalist life.

Next week I’ll be speaking with Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle about his experiences moving abroad and working from anywhere. The week after I’m totally stoked to be speaking with Leo Babauta of Mnmlist and Zen Habits about his experiences with being minimalist.

Don’t miss out these interviews! You can receive free updates from Far Beyond The Stars by RSS or Email.

David Damron, on one of his excursions.

Today I have the honor of speaking with David Damron. Dave writes about being minimalist at The Minimalist Path, and about living life to the fullest at Life Excursion. He’s also published an excellent free ebook: 7 Steps to a Simpler Life.

I talked with Dave about his minimalist goals, his annoyance over the amount of plastic bags being used by consumers, and easy strategies that everyone can adopt in order to make their lives more minimalist.

I hope you’ll give this a read!

The Interview with David Damron

Everett Bogue: There are a few basic pillars on which rests the philosophy of being minimalist, what do you think is the most important element of being minimalist?

David Damron: The most important element of being a minimalist, for me, is determining what is most important in my life. Simplifying and reduction is key, but knowing what is important is the best reason to become a minimalist.

Over at LifeExcursion recently, I wrote an article entitled The Hypocritical Minimalist where I detail my non-minimalist action and why it was right for me. Focusing on simplifying the things that don’t matter and putting 90% of your energy what does is the best reason anyone should become a minimalist.

It all comes down to this for all of us minimalist-hopefuls: Minimize the stuff that doesn’t matter and focus on the elements in your life that are truly important.

EB: Do you have an minimalist goals that you’ve set for yourself recently?

DD: This is probably the most asked question I get at The Minimalist Path.

I have a few goals: I am trying to minimize my attention towards statistical data and focus on content production for my sites. Another is looking into more wireless capabilities for my crazy amount of technological gear. I want to be more wireless,  but I need to eliminate as many gadgets as I have. I am not sure if a smart phone, like an iPhone or Droid, would be great for me. But I realize that may be the case with my online and social media growth. With that, I also need to minimize the use of those technological items and bring more simplicity to my life.

Last, I am trying to decide if I love my books enough to keep or minimize them. I am leaning towards keeping them as they are a great source for me and are one of the few non-minimalist items I have, but I’m still on the fence.

This is a great question and I think everyone should think of a minimalist goal they want or need to set up for themselves.

EB: What steps have you set for yourself towards achieving those goals?

DD: I knew this one was coming and it’s only fair to answer honestly.

Well, I try not to check my websites stats more than twice a day (once in the morning/evening). I have not put in as much effort towards looking into and pricing the wireless capabilities out there. So, I am definitely not living as I preach on that one. As for the books, that one is still up in the air.

The biggest problem with goals in today’s society is not that we don’t set them, it’s that we do not work towards them. Minimalism is tough, no doubt about that. There are many things I wish I would have kept, but then realize it wasn’t worth sacrificing the anchor of stuff to keep it all.

When it comes to a minimalist goal you set, I suggest doing something about it immediately. The less you waver and regret, the more success you will have.

To all of your readers: I suggest setting goals, write them down now. Immediately after write down 10 things you will do to achieve your goals, then act on them. The more you and your goals sit stagnant, whether it be with being minimalist or other aspects in life, the more likely they won’t become a reality.

EB: There are a lot of ways that society at large can benefit from becoming more minimalist, could you recommend one habit that you believe would broadly effect the sustainability of society today?

DD: This answer is going to come out of left field, but one I feel strongly about and I am personally not doing enough to change.

Minimize packaging. Packaging is a huge waste and brings about more pollution than vehicles. One major packaging item we use more than we realize is plastic. Plastics are made using oil and end up sitting in a landfill or ocean not decomposing. I worked at a grocery store for four years and saw people just blatantly use plastic bags for one or two items.

I wish it was mandatory to use reusable bags while shopping everywhere. Another positive side to minimizing packaging is that it influences everyone to go to this unheard of section of the grocery store called the produce department.

If you and I use less packaging:

  • the less pollution we create
  • the less foreign oil we use
  • the less items will cost
  • the less persuasively we will be influenced by consumerism

There are many other minimalist aspects I wish others would focus on, but since no one ever talks about these topics, I think it is great to bring to light.

EB: Could you describe one simple step that our reader’s could employ to make this habit part of their lives?

DD: Do not allow yourself to grocery shop without bringing or purchasing a reusable bag. They are a $1. Seriously, no one I know shopping at American grocery stores does not have $1 to spend on a reusable bag. Yes, everyone can afford it. You may have to skip the box of cookies, but you can afford it. If you forget your reusable bag at home, buy a new one. Force yourself to do this. Stop making excuses. It’s simple, cheap and smart.

EB: Is there any element of being minimalist that you struggle with? –Mine is that I haven’t given up eating meat (yet?,) even though I know how big of an impact this has on the environment.

DD: I am a horrible minimalist when it comes to working on the computer. I rarely focus on the task at hand and this is a huge problem for my productivity. Right now I have seven tabs open on Firefox, I am running my Thunderbird email on the other screen (yes, I have two screens), I have numerous windows tabs open. Having this many tabs open is actually (sadly) not a lot for me.

I like to think I am more productive this way, but don’t really know if I am. I’m aspiring to be more like the Leo Babauta’s of this world and be a whole lot more productive while on the computer.

EB: And last, can you think of one unexpected reward of being minimalist that you’ve discovered on your minimalist journeys?

DD: Freedom. I recently lived overseas for six months. I was able to do this because I eliminated any and everything that did not lead to the simple life. Living abroad requires this level of simplicity. I never thought getting rid of most of my possessions, limiting my financial liabilities, and simplifying my basic lifestyle would lead to such freedom, but such was the case.

If you or anyone you know is feeling trapped by life and not venturing to do what they love, I strongly suggest becoming a minimalist. Becoming minimalist has opened so many doors for me and I think the same can be done for millions others.


Be sure to check back next week for an interview with Colin Wright, and the week after for Leo Babauta.

Get a free subscription to Far Beyond The Stars: RSS or Email.

The (Minimalist) Tipping Point: How Small Choices Create Big Impact.

November 17th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Writing and photography by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

I spoke with a person recently who described themselves as ‘definitely-not-minimalist’ about how overwhelming it is to combat a world that is constantly calling on her to buy more and more.

She asked me how she could to stop the cycle of consumerism in her own life.

She was a person who have been accumulating stuff an incredibly long time. She was born in a generation that was defined by consumption and perpetuated by the prices of items falling at an incredible rate.

She bought into one of the great American dreams.

Success was stuff, America defined it. But all of that has changed, the internet has transformed our society into one that is fueled on information and ideas. We can work from anywhere, if we let ourselves see that.

Past the basic essentials that you need to live, most of the stuff we filled our lives with doesn’t matter anymore.

What people don’t realize, when they’re on a ten or fifteen year long consumption binge is just how difficult it is to dig yourself out from the weight of all of this stuff.

They want to get out, they want to be free, but it’s overwhelming.

We can all understand this position. We all know people who’ve been there are going there. We might have been there ourselves.

So, how to take the first steps toward a minimalist existence, if you don’t know how to begin?

Liberate yourself from the overwhelming weight of your useless possessions.

I firmly believe that you can’t get over stuff until you have a mindset change. Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re there already. How do you get to this realization?

The first small choice you can make is to start to comprehend how much stuff costs you.

  1. It costs money to store stuff you’re not using. More stuff means a bigger house, if you have so much stuff you can’t fit in your house, then it means storing it. Bigger houses cost money, storing stuff costs money. Maybe take a moment and calculate how much you’re spending on your house and storage, paste this number on your wall. I guarantee it will scare you.
  2. Material possessions restrict your freedom. If you wanted to move, could you? How much would it cost to move? Think about it, if you have one box of stuff, you could move whenever you wanted. If you got bored of Cincinnati, you could be in Denver in no time. Just pack a bag.
  3. Stuff takes up your time. It takes time to sort through stuff, and the more clutter you have the harder it is to find things. This leads to more time being wasted. If time is money, then your stuff is putting you into massive debt. By erasing your ties to your stuff, it’s like your paying off a massive loan that you didn’t even know you had.

Think about it, if you had nothing but the essentials:

  • You would have endless more time to do what you’re interested in.
  • You would have so much more money to achieve your dreams.
  • You would have the freedom to move about whenever you want.

Do you think this unobtainable? It’s not.

I live this life, I have a backpack of stuff that I use every day. I come and go as I please. My life costs nothing besides food and housing wherever I live, the rest of the money I save. I work on the internet, I could be anywhere. Most of all: I’m happy. It’s ultimate freedom, and most importantly, it’s possible for you too.

This is how you start to free yourself:

One thing at a time.

The first step: stop buying things.

If you find yourself contemplating buying something that’s not essential, take a breath, think about how much it actually costs. Walk away.

To begin decluttering: every day, just take one object and figure out what to do with it. Recycle it, donate it, throw it out. If you feel like you can do two, do it. If you feel like you can throw out a box of stuff, go for it.

This will accelerate into a cascading effect. When you realize just how important it is to live a free and enjoyable life without having to worry about possession overload, nothing can stop you.

The next step: Give it all away.

There are so many people in the world that need the things that you’re using now. They might only have money for food to feed their children. They might not have the education that you do, or the opportunities that you had. Give the stuff you these people. Donate it to a charitable organization, or put it up for free on Craigslist or Freecycle. Someone, somewhere will appreciate your stuff. It might even be useful to them.

The important part is to recognize that you don’t need it anymore, and then find the quickest way to get it all out of your life.


What methods do you use to reduce your clutter, to clean out your life? Leave it in the comments!


Far Beyond The Stars is a very new site, and I never imagined by this point we would have had over 6000 visitors and over 200 subscribers. Wow! It’s so exhilarating to see the traffic climb.

I’d love if more people found out about the site. If you enjoyed what you read here, I’d love it if you could share this with one friend or tweet this story. It’d make a world of difference, and I’d be eternally grateful.

The Minimalist Week: 5 Days 5 Ways to Apply Simplicity

November 16th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Writing and photography by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Wow, crazy, this year flew by. To clear time for all of the festivities, –so I can spend time with my family during the holidays without constantly thumbing my iPhone,– I’m trying to wrap up as many projects as I can before I can dig into the turkey –or tofurkey, whatever you’re into.

I like to up my dosage of simplicity for the week, when my life is busier than usual.

One way that I do this is by setting daily goals for myself.

Here are five minimalist goals that I have set for myself for the week. I hope they’re helpful to you. If you’re interested, maybe follow along with me. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.

If you apply these daily goals, and they work for you, let me know how it went!

Monday: Start the week with a simple and healthy breakfast.

Beginning your week with a healthy breakfast is so important, I can’t stress this enough. On the days that I skip breakfast and just drink a coffee, I get less accomplished and feel drained. Maybe you’re already doing this, I know I am, but take a moment to consider what you’re eating this morning.

I suggest whole grains, a fruit or two, and some protein. Peanut butter on whole wheat toast, and a banana, could be one option. Another, two eggs, an orange, with whole-bran muffin. Perhaps drink some orange juice with that coffee. Yum! I’m going to be sure to shop on Sunday (tonight, when I’m writing this) so I don’t have to go out to get breakfast.

Tuesday: Take time to think before checking email in the morning.
When you take the time to have 30 minutes to an hour of genuine time to contemplate before you delve into the morning pile of email, the pieces just come together smoother.

I’m really aiming to do take time in the morning more regularly, since the days that I roll out of bed and start tapping my iPhone immediately are always just a little bit more overwhelming. I like to start the day either with yoga, or if I’m not feeling it, just brewing coffee and spending some time waking up before I start working. –I’m a freelancer, so I have no commute. It’s just me and my desk, or me at the coffee shop.

Wednesday: Write a hit-list of work priorities to complete.
Lay out your schedule in a minimal manner, so you know what needs to be done. Isolate yourself and then do these priorities.

I like to take a pad of paper, or Evernote on my iPhone if I can’t find paper, and list the five priorities that I have to knock down during my work day. Instead of meandering through my work day not knowing what I’m doing next, I’ll work on one priority until it’s done. I won’t work on anything until I’ve finished a priority, because that would be splitting my focus and I won’t get as much work done.

Try setting your own priority list. List the five goals you have for a day, and block out the rest of the world. The world can wait, your priorities can’t. Once everything is done on your list tell yourself that you’re done for the day, don’t just keep needlessly busy with tasks that you don’t really care about. Your work day is for getting important priorities done.

Thursday: Take a break from work to study of an unrelated subject.
I like to get away from my work for at least a few hours a day and study something unrelated to the material that I’m working on. Like pick up a book on a subject that interests me, or do some research on a project I’d like to start someday.

On Thursday, after I get my work done, I’m going to be alternating between reading An Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. These are two books that I’ve been dying to read, but haven’t had time. I’m also going to be on a train to Chicago, at this point, so I’ll have a lot of time to do reading.

Make time for your own independent reading and research. It’s important to minimize your work schedule in order to take time to explore subjects that you’re interested in, and have quality time to generate big ideas.

Friday: Check out from work early.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about four day workweeks lately (no, not Four Hour Workweeks, though if you can get there, good luck.) and it seems to be that it might be a good idea to start trying to get all of my work done in four days. Do you think that’s possible?

One aspect of being minimalist, at least as far as I see it, is optimizing your work week for maximum potential.

I’ve observed that a lot of people just go to work, they work eight to ten hours a day, and they just keep busy most of the time. Either that or they’re checking blogs repeatedly every five minutes and hopping back to the spreadsheet when their boss is looking. Have you noticed yourself doing that? I know I did when I was working a full time job. Just getting by, waiting until the day is over.

On Friday I’m going to skip work, if all my work is done.

So on Friday, I’m hoping to have all of my work done for the week.  I’ll just be able to spend time doing what I enjoy. I figure if I work at 100% during the week, I should be able to finish my projects and be ready for the weekend a little bit ahead of time.

I won’t need to do anything. I won’t need to answer emails or calls, because everything will be done. I’ll talk more about my progress, and the steps I’m taking to achieve this, as this blog progresses.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve this, and sometimes goals aren’t achievable.

Maybe you can try it too?


Click here to receive free email updates about being minimalist from Far Beyond The Stars.

Where am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for November, 2009 at Far Beyond The Stars: The Archives.