I’ve been wanting to write about minimalism for a while but, I wasn’t sure where to start. I think it’s because there is so much to talk about when it comes to this topic. There are so many ways it’s changed my life for the better and so many parts of the conversation that I could focus on. I’m going to try my best to just start somewhere though, because it’s been a really useful tool on my quest to feel good.
So, what is minimalism?
It’s simple. It’s consciously wanting less. It’s giving up consuming for consuming’s sake, or because we think that acquiring stuff will make us happy. It’s asking if stuff adds value to our lives. And it’s questioning our societal inclination to simply covet ‘more’.
Of all the things I’ve done in the past few years to feel better on a daily basis, becoming a minimalist takes the proverbial cake.
You see, it used to be that when I was younger, I wanted lots of stuff. If my roommate got a Louis Vuitton bag, I wanted one too. I always wanted more clothes, more shoes, more gadgets, a different car, designer jeans, Pottery Barn everything, Apple everything, etc. The list it seemed, was endless. Because it was.
When we’re in this state of consumption we get caught in a cycle of discontent. The cycle begins with the feeling of lack. We then purchase something that we think will stop this feeling and make us happy instead. There is a temporary uptick of percieved fulfillment, the thrill of the purchase but, then there is a subsequent drop, because stuff doesn’t actually make us happy. We then slide back into that feeling of lack and start thinking that maybe it was something else we needed. And then we start again.
I hate this cycle. The only way out is to stop thinking stuff will make us happy. It doesn’t matter how much money you have either. You won’t just be able to buy everything you need to be happy and then stop. That’s not how it works. You’ll always just want more, more expensive, stuff. That’s the only way this cycle goes.
Our current, consumerist environment funnels us right into this cycle too, making it difficult, even with awareness, to remove ourselves from it. It tells us daily, in a multitude of ways, backed by billions of dollars of marketing, everywhere we go, that this is the way is it. It tells us that the stuff for sale is what makes us happy. So, if you’re not happy with how you look, buy this cream. If you’re not happy with your life, it’s because you don’t have this bag, or those shoes, or that car, or maybe that house. Buy said thing, and then you will be happy. And we all want to be happy.
But, all that happens is that we wind up spending lots of money on things we don’t need that we think will make us happy but don’t.
This may seem a little dramatic but, it’s true or people wouldn’t be quoting Brad Pitt’s character from Fight Club all these years later, ya know? That stud muffin.
So the way I see it now, minimalism is the way out. It’s really freeing to not want more. It’s really freeing to want less. I love wanting less. And I love being less attached to the stuff I already have.
Earlier this winter, JB was ‘cleaning up’ and just happened to ‘clean up’ (aka throw away) my entire, and I mean entire, summer wardrobe; shoes, bags, clothes and all. A few years ago I would have been devastated. Now, I am not. It’s just stuff and not only does stuff lack the power to make me happy but, stuff can also be replaced.
The point is that when you want less, you free yourself up in a lot of ways:
- You don’t spend as much money, giving you more financial freedom.
- You don’t spend as much time shopping for, caring for, storing, moving and organizing your stuff, which frees up your time.
- You don’t care as much about keeping up with the Jones’, which is a relief.
- You have more energy to do the stuff you want to do, whatever that may be.
So right there, that’s more money, more time and more energy. Sounds pretty awesome right? I know we’re talking less but, I’ve never met anyone who could really benefit from less money, less time and less energy.
The best part of minimalism though, is that when you have less shit lying around, it’s a lot easier to keep your home clutter-free. And I hate clutter so this actually does make me happy. Its makes me very happy.
Minimalism is just about less. It’s about asking questions like:
- Does this really add value to my life?
- Do I really need this?
- Is this worth the investment of my time, my most valuable resource?
- Am I really going to use or enjoy this?
I’ve found that the answer to most of those questions is usually “no”.
Wanting less and having less has been the most freeing shift I’ve made. Wanting less feels amazing.
What do you think? Ever question how much stuff you have? Or why you really want stuff?