‘Rule of One’ — an example of minimalism thinking

Woman in a market
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

The world has become a whirlwind of advertising and branding, upon more branding and influencers. We can’t do much with the crazy amount of information that we receive on a daily basis, but we can think about finding a few rules that we can use to reduce the amount of stress and anxiety in our lives.

The ‘rule of one’ is a simple rule to help you reduce “Decision Fatigue”.

The following article by Peak explains “Decision Fatigue” nicely, but the idea is simply that you need to be conscious of the impact that decision making has on your mental resources.

All the stimulus created by advertising and branding is based on the idea that more is better. Over and above this idea, the advertising is trying to change your mind to buy brand x, over all the other brands available in your stimulus overloaded brain. This effectively makes you tired.

Some unfortunate folks start to suffer from the more extreme form of tired, where they start worrying about being tired. Two espressos later, and they are just a tad irritable. Or dare I say, anxious.

But let’s not unpack that too much. Back to you, you now know that you want that new item and the matching accessory, and you also know that the new model from brand y, is also ‘amazing’.

Effectively you’re stuck. Stuck between brands competing for your attention, a decision that you think you need to make, and the many options that are available to you.

Sit down, assess and rethink.

This is where minimalism has an olive branch to offer your tired mind. By keeping to a simple mantra of ‘reducing stress in your life’ you can help your brain by deciding beforehand, to choose one. Choose one brand and stick to it until you have no choice but to change, or the brand no longer aligns with your vision of yourself. This might sound trivial, but it can be pretty hard in reality.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Clothing shopping is a great example. If like me, you are a slight agoraphobe who doesn’t much like other people, shopping malls are a personalised hell. But you need not see it all as hellish. If you choose to apply the ‘rule of one’ you will decide before you enter the mall, that you like brand alpha, because of a plethora of motivations, all personal to you, such as how it makes you feel or how you can identify with it or your style.

This gives you clarity and direction while you travel through your hell. You need only worry about the shirts in brand alpha. Not across several brands, several stores, or different locations. You can effectively, enter the mall and walk straight to the store that you chose, and buy only the things you need in one transaction.

You have taken a stress-inducing exercise and reduced it to one instance, and one interaction. The ‘rule of one’ has many applications, and you can see it in people who live simple lives. They are not tied to multiple objects or multiple things, and this is where the art of living as a minimalist can add to your life, by taking away the things that stress you out.

The example above may not be aligned to your stressors, but an application of the ‘rule of one’ may help you. If you are reading this article and thinking to yourself, ‘I don’t know what my stressors are’, you might want to start by writing down what annoyed you for a week or two and then reviewing the list.

Don’t worry, you don’t need a new app, or a new journal or a new pen to write this down. You already have everything you need. Start with the problem, then worry about the solution, and if you want to heed this example, pick one problem that has been bothering you, and try to apply the ‘rule of one’.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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