Why Essentialism Stands the Test of Time, even COVID-19

I heard a lot about essentialism or minimalism, referred to as simplistic living. But I did not realize it makes sense to me after I read this e-book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKEOWN. You may, therefore, wonder how I got to check it out. Well, my “essentialist” friend, Rithy THUL, handed it over, personally finding me going round in circles! After branding myself out in various activities (social/commercial), then was the right to time to embrace that concept. Eventually, I’m glad it has prepared me for the current chaos like COVID-19. Below are the reasons I deem “essentialism” essential for our lives, not just through uncertain moments.

1- Priority Matters

Photo by Phil Desforges on Unsplash

Essentialists believe life is too short to prioritize everything coming your way. In order to cope with this issue, I also blogged about time management based “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. Under the current circumstances, ask yourself who matters to you most. Most people, including me, would value their family above all, while a few may cherish their work more. So schedule your daily tasks, according to that priority, which may make your regular quarantine more meaningful!

2- Living Can Be Simpler

Materialists would be happy showing off their possessions or gains to other people. In pastime, they may even carry more luggage or worse, garbage than needed. Essential living lies on simple needs, or just enough to keep one safe and sane. Essentialists tend to be very selective of what to do, eat, or even think. They will answer a polite NO to what contradicts their principles. For that purpose, these days, either I throw away my long-used clothes or hand them down to needy people.

3- Quitters Don’t Have to Be Losers


For me, the essence of life should evolve around growth and love. When essentialists quit pursuing a task at hand, it does not mean they throw their vital mission away. It only implies they are realistic enough to change their approach instead of staying stubborn or stuck, with what is already proven not to work. This scenario perfectly resonates with Einstein’s quote: “Insanity is doing the same things, expecting different results.” Throughout this pandemic, if you keep thinking your passion alone can feed you, chances are, it might rip you apart slowly, but surely. That is why I am building up our family business aside, through online translations, as it cater to daily needs: vegetables and groceries!

4- Reduce Decision Fatigue

It is said we, human beings, make each 35,000 decisions a day! Yeah, we think so much that each day may emotionally exhaust us. More often than not, we allow trivial or negative matters to occupy our mind. Yet, if we go to the essence, only a few decisions would matter to us every day. Take these two decisions, for example: This Sunday, will you brew your own coffee at home or drink it outside? In parallel, will you spend only one hour or two with your kids? Your call to tell which decision matters to your day!

5- Efforts Become Optional

This (last) reason should be residual from the previous ones, as we have already decluttered non-essential items off our list. You feel lighter or even happier to work on only what matters to you. As a result, in most cases, you can achieve more than expected. I’m sure you felt that way before, when your mind was clear and focused on the present task at hand. Ultimately, you can even delegate that non-important job to other people so that this leverage benefits both sides!

If you are still not convinced of why essentialism matters to our (current) living, look at Buddha, Jesus, Muhammed, Henry Ford, Gandhi, Steve Jobs, for your few inspirations. They all share this way of life, as their wealth or power turn out to be their by-products. Still feel tempted with peer pressure or redundant procrastination? Well, I found it also challenging to adopt essentialism. But we all can unlearn old, unproductive habits while learning the healthier ones with discipline and commitment.

PS: Every time I face a tough/important decision, I ask myself: What matters to me now or even in the long run? Your homework is to find your own answer after this reading!

Five Meaningful Interactions While in iSolation

Leadership guru, Simon Sinek, once said: “Virtual doesn’t have to be impersonal“. I find it legitimate when I interact with right people in the right moments. So how do I do this? Join me to see if these interaction tips work for your isolation.

1- Play Games with Your Family

I’d recommend this to those of you who are sure that your relatives are safe from the virus. Ultimately, we spend most of our days with them. So why not come up with creative activities to have fun with them, beyond our e-devices? Family5 is my favorite app so far for that purpose. Otherwise, just recall your childhood games and play some with your loved ones. Home quarantine should create meaningful memories this way, shouldn’t it?

2- Say Hi to Your “Old” Friends

Mastermind Club is not just old, but long! Here we were Zooming!

Should I “advise” you to do this? No, let’s call this a gentle reminder. More often than not, we’ve been so overwhelmed with current situations that we forgot those we endeared in the past. When I said “dear”, that means those who added positive value to our lives at one point of time. Therefore, why not rekindle this long-time friendship? Truth is, they are just a text or a phone call away!

3- Talk to Your Leads/Customers

Oh yeah! Home quarantine should not mark the end of your business or jobs. Take some time of your day to say hi to your leads or customers. Check on them in light of their health and safety. Financially, a considerate discount for their next jobs would relief their burden, should they need your services. And when I published this poster about our translation promotion on our Page, I have received sizable inquiries!

Ahkara promotional poster for this month- of course, with terms and conditions!

4- Share Realistic Vibes

I must say, before this pandemic hit us this hard, I was an optimist. As it has uncontrollably evolved, I have adopted realistic approach as to keep both myself and surrounding people safe. In that sense, instead of rushing to share all unreliable and panicking updates, I filter them out with my own judgment and some fact check websites like The Poynter Institute or Health Analytics Asia. The former has been proven reliable by Facebook while the latter was recommended by our funding agent of Let’s Document Cambodia. The point is, precaution is undoubtedly realistic. Yet, irresponsible acts of spreading fake news could cause us more harm faster, especially on emotional and spiritual levels.

5- Surrender to Universe

Latest quote from RajaYoga Education Centre (Cambodia Facebook Page)

Why would this surrender be considered “interaction”? After immersing myself in RajaYoga, I realize I may have one single spirit, but many minds. Then, if I fail to calm my negative mind, my spirit might be affected. So the Higher Spirit or Universe (“God”, for some) always reserves a plan – if not effect – for our action. The idea is not to accept what befalls us, but to embrace the reality and move on with a “better tomorrow”. After all, life is too short to think things won’t change over time!

In a nutshell, this is not about keeping yourself aimlessly busy, but about keeping your days sanely productive, despite the harsh reality we are now facing. You’ll never know what might happen to or around you the next day. So today is the best chance for you to expand your meaningful self across, dark times.

PS: Surprisingly, since April 09th, the Cambodian government has asked us, especially factory workers, to resume work, even during Khmer New Year, to avoid possible community outbreaks. Wherever you are or travel, have a safe Khmer New Year!


Five Productive Ways to Maximize Your Isolation!

Does isolation rhyme with lack of productivity? It doesn’t have to! You may go now: “Only five?” Well, I can go for more tips to maximize your quarantine days. Yet, for the sake of your Internet routine, let’s explore for the time being the following ways 😉

1– Watch Films

Well, I mentioned “films” because they designate a variety of content such as movies, documentaries, short films! In my case, I’ve been added to a pro-arthouse cine-club online group, in which the curator (also my brother-in-arm) selected various films for us to watch. To alternate his choices, I enjoy my own selection every other night! Wait, you don’t have to come from a film background to indulge in films at home. Sources? Well, here’s a loose (paid) list: Netflix, iFlix or in Cambodia, Soyo or JaikonTV. And the following are some freebies:

“Waste Forest”, a short documentary under Let’s Document Cambodia

i- 1,150 Free Movies Online

ii- Classic Thai Films

iii- Japanese Latest Indie Films

iv- Let’s Document Cambodia (documentaries produced by our Sunflower Film Organization)!

v- TED Talks.

2- Read Books

Without generalization, this tip seems to suit introverts! You love to dive into deep thinking or analyzing your experience from texts. So books feel more aligned with your space. If you already bought some books, but lost the luxury to read them, now is the best time! If you find hard copies hard to buy around, e-books should come in handy, over your devices. For instance, currently, I’m reading “Scale Up” by Verne Harnish, in e-copy, to help me prepare our DancingRains movie production start-up better. Here are some free sources:

Access to some free spiritual ebooks

i- SimplyE (app)

ii- ManyBooks

iii- GetFreeBooks

3- Learn News Skills

Have you downloaded these (self) education apps without regularly checking them out: Khan Academy, Learning, Coursera, just to name a few? And after a few days of home quarantine, I found a couple more like Skillshare and edX! My preference is movie-related subjects. I bet you can find yours in those platforms. Be careful: some courses need paying. But if you find them worth your money, why not invest your time in them?!

Some of my selection

4- Strategize Your Next Moves

Well, this feels to me like the most critical, yet productive part you can take from your self-confinement. We all need to work and earn money for our living. Yet, before this COVID19 happened, I bet most of us have bluntly been enslaved to our desperate routine. I personally make a daily habit to meditate in the morning, and a yearly habit to travel solo. Now that we should not travel that much, I suggest you spend your quarantine days reflecting on your life, business, or career. But don’t get stuck in your past so you should craft out future plans carefully. These plans should avoid past mistakes and benchmark best practices from people around you or new experiences (as partially described above)!

Even reading such quotes can also uplift your days!

5- Blog or Journal Down Your Days

Hehe! That’s what I’m doing now, funnily with you reading this post! I just can’t feel any more productive, self-rewarding, valuable than writing out my thoughts and sharing them with curious minds like you. If confidential, your notes may be kept to yourself, just because some emotions need spilling out of our mind. Some psychologists even recommend us to hand-write our journals. Anyway, the choice is yours, as 10 minutes of such daily write-ups will do more good to your day than not. If you don’t have that luxury of time, commit to a weekly log like in my blogging case!

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash
Oh yeah, those are not my hands!

That’s all from me. Share with me other activities you’ve carried out since the first quarantine day in the comments below! Then, our fellow readers can also apply them to maximize their days and lives 🙂

PS: If you wish to access more free sources of those materials, inbox me when you can 🙂

PPS: My next post will address physical isolation x quasi-virtual interaction.