Eliminate excess, go with less – that’s the motto of `minimalists,’ a new breed who’d rather take a bike to work, de-own their possessions and live the simple life.

In our world of excess, there’s a quiet movement to wards minimalistic living that’s gaining momentum. A growing number of people in urban cities is questioning whether they need as much as they have: clothes, accessories, gadgets and everything that fills our homes but doesn’t necessarily serve us better or make us happy. People are embracing `voluntary simplicity’.In other words, they are developing the art of living with less – going back to our rustic roots.

American TV show host, producer and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey recently went minimalistic. She auctioned all her favourite material possessions in a bid to `declutter’ her mind. Says Arvind Devalia, motivational guru-cum-minimalist, “By choice, we are moving towards voluntary simplicity. People all over the world are waking up to a different way of being, and beginning to see the bigger picture. Our earthly resources are limited. Even in cities, we can grow food for our needs. Buying fewer things, making conscious purchases, recycling as much as possible will ultimately give you the satisfaction that buying an expensive phone can’t.”

RUSTICATE – A NEW WAY OF LIFE
These minimalists follow a `return to basic’ life for higher well-being and ecological capital. For instance, Mad Men actor Vincent Kartheiser prefers to take a bus or walk, instead of going by car. The Twilight Saga star Robert Pattinson doesn’t own a house. Millionaire David Karp, 26, founder and owner of Tumblr, has a living room that contains only a sofa and a TV. He has no books and very few clothes. He says he is unable to understand why people want to fill their houses with stuff.Karp doesn’t even own a car, and prefers to use a motorbike for travel. Legendary American business magnate, investor and philanthropist, Warren Buffet, doesn’t have a cell phone because he prefers to live simply just as director Christopher Nolan does. He doesn’t even have an email account! Like in Bollywood, actor Siddharth Malhotra cycles to work. Actor Nana Patekar enjoys a simple farm life and dislikes collecting material possessions.

Author Linda Leaming explains in her book A Field Guide to Happiness, “To rusticate is to live more simply and to live close to, or have connections with nature. Living in a city, it’s possible to go about your days and weeks without seeing a tree or touching the earth, or connecting with much that’s natural. I think this works in a terrible way on our psyche. It causes depression and other illnesses. In the US, there’s a strong trend among wealthy, successful people to pare down and get closer to the natural world – eat more natural, unprocessed foods, wear uncomplicated clothing made of natural fibres, live smaller etc.”

At 19, Hardik Nagar is a die-hard minimalist. On his blog thatindianminimalist, he passionately talks about the need to declutter belong ings, “I don’t de pend on material things for happi ness, I live a simple, un cluttered and happy life.

Materialism clutters your emotional state. Living with less gave me an emptier emotional space. I don’t need things to feel comfortable or secure.”

Mumbai-based Piyush Shah, IT professional, all of 40, is a minimalist too. He cycles to work, doesn’t own a TV and AC. His passion made him start a movement, `Cycle2work’. “The fast track of city bogs you down. Cycling to work is not only eco-friendly but a great way to beat the traffic and stay in shape. I also sold my house.Now, I live in a one-room apartment. I want to be light and free. I’ve been shedding material stuff for some time now.” Courtney Carver, author of Be More With Less, says, “The purpose of minimalism is to remove the things in your life that don’t serve you, so that you can make room for the things that do. When you eliminate the excess, you’ll gain more clarity about what you really need for a healthy, happy life. I believe living in a city may provide more opportunity for simple living.City life can inspire smaller-space living and car-free transportation. It may also be easier to connect with like-minded people in a more populated area to support habit changes that encourage living simply.” Bollywood director Mansoor Khan practises minimalism in his organic farmstay. He says, “If you want to be happy, don’t chase growth and materialism. Chase slowness, smallness and minimalism. Be connected to the earth, try to pursue organic life. More material success means loss of social capital – you won’t have time for your family and will have no peace.”

GO RUSTIC WITH FOOD
There’s a rise in simple, earthy cuisine. Author Pico Iyer has moved away from fast food and these days, consumes only locally-sourced “food with integrity”. Tech writer Promilla Chitkara says, “I’ve stopped eating out.I believe food cooked by someone else has their vibrations. I cook fresh, healthy, local recipes with seasonal ingredients.” Raw food expert Dr Soorya Kaur says, “Start simplifying, minimising your kitchen. I tune into my body and my mind and feed them what they need.I eat what I can digest, assimilate and eliminate. If you get tired after eating, you bloat, put on weight easily. If you are eating food full of pesticides and herbicides, you are harming your body in the long run. My energy and youthfulness today is a result of eating such foods. At 60 plus, I have the body and spirit of a 30-year-old!”

HOW TO RUSTICATE YOUR LIFE
Get yourself in a natural place, like a park and just sit. You can be by yourself or be with loved ones. Look out for the stars and the moon – it will make you happy. Not wanting a lot and not needing to do anything is conducive to happiness. A lot of us are really wound up, so it doesn’t happen automatically. It’s a habit you teach yourself.

Pare down your possessions or at least stop buying things you don’t really need. Move to a smaller place, get people with negative energy out of your life.Spend time with people you love. Schedule time where you can just relax, turn off your gadgets, eat simple, whole, fresh foods, and talk to your family.

Most urban dwellers need to rusticate, or they will be depressed. Learn folk dancing, go visit friends, just sit and chat, or go for a walk.