Becoming a minimalist isn’t something you hear about everyday. Yes, there are splashes of it here and there, but for the most part, my impression is that it’s still a pretty niche community bound together by blog posts, videos and forums. And, today, yes, today, I am also staking my claim in this lesser ventured lifestyle and ideological territory. I have a lot of thoughts and observations on this subject as I have personally been tackling this new challenge and its correlation to happiness and peace of mind, so, in no particular order, here goes nothing:
Minimalism is radical/extreme.
Correction: minimalism is radical and extreme in the eyes of those who have yet to question why they spend most of their time on the hunt for new objects and maintaining them. I don’t see what is so threatening about organizing your environment under the premises: a. less is more, and, b. more genuine enjoyment can be derived from decluttering your physical space through a system of evaluating true value (instead of perceived value). To think that someone is threatened by another person happily cleaning out their closet is absurd. The person cleaning out their clutter isn’t responsible for the unexplored guilt the offended party has about theirs.
Minimalism questions multiple authorities.
You’re a rebel now, but you do have a cause. It’s a stand against the prevailing drive to feel good enough by the standards set as we know them, feeling acceptable and accepted by obtaining all of the necessary items for a “good” life [passionately clambers atop an abstracted soapbox]. I’m here to tell you today, my friends: that system is a long lost cause and it’s running us into the ground, but for some damn reason, it’s all but forgotten!
For example, think of all of the folks who let themselves feel inferior to others when not having yet purchased the latest iPhone. It’s nonsensical and, frankly, a shame because those negative feelings people are having about themselves in this micro-context aren’t based on truth, but they are real feelings affecting people in a negative way; they are based on a constructed reality by corporate and pop culture authorities —insert discrediting insult about this blogger being a dirty hippie here—defining happiness for those who haven’t yet sought out the individual meaning of happiness for themselves yet.
And, frankly, it’s hard to point a finger at any one individual and blame them for not understanding their own personal power. It’s seemingly stripped from us daily; we’re berated with movies, TV, and advertisements saying you need this to be okay, acceptable and loved. It’s downright overwhelming, deceptively convincing, distracting and, therefore, easy to get caught up in. It’s more than a little messed up, honestly.
In any case, I was there, right alongside everyone, buying the styles and devices. Am I enough yet? Some background: I am both insider and outsider because while I partook in the self-worth cage of consumerism, I was also, unconvincing to some people also living inside the cage, which led me to question the whole aim of the cage in the first place, so to speak. If I can offer one thing that might set someone off in a more minimal direction today: go on a pop culture and television diet, vacation, whatever you want to call it, and start noticing how what you do and what you think makes you feel. At the end of the day, while I think most of us would be better off becoming minimalists, I am just one chick with some rather stubborn convictions about how she relates to materialism and, fortunately, has a very satisfactory internet connection. To be straightforward, that’s really all this is here. I’d rather you think for yourself, honestly, but this is where I will catalog me thinking for me. This writing bit is fun and brings more joy to my own process of letting go.
Minimalism helped me realize how I have been distracting myself and what I truly value.
There is something deeply, deeply unsettling (to me, at least) about not following your intuition. I believe most people have an inkling of theirs, but it’s a gentle little voice that is easily pushed around, but always gets back up because it just unconditionally loves you and wants to help. Call it your spirit guide or just how you were raised, for some of us, it’s there and it’s not going away. Does that mean you can’t deviate from what it says and have to obey it’s every beck and call? No, absolutely not. Life’s a continuous exploration. Everything except the laws of nature are open to be adventured, but even those maybe! Case in point, when I distract myself from my passions and things that challenge me to grow, I feel kind of a dull pain from stagnation and self-limitation. The chaos of uncertainty when you delve into your passion is far more comforting than holding it all in and talking down your desires. With all that being said, I want to show you that chiseling down to your core values is doable, here are mine:
- Choosing love in as many interactions with myself and with people anywhere between strangers to loose acquaintances to family as I can. Simple, but not always easy because we’re all human; honest, authentic and communicative relationships with like-hearted people.
- Choosing optimal nutrition and healthy habits, such as sleeping enough, exercising and relaxing as to maintain a fundamental lens to experience the world and to impact it as positively as I can.
- Balancing connecting with other humans (or other creatures!) over some of my more ambitious tendencies. It’s easy to get caught up in one’s own potential and that can be explored too, but there have been some really lonely megalomaniacs throughout history, so, with that being said, i’d like a fair bit of both connection and self-exploration incorporated into my daily life.
- Choosing positive or, at least, constructive thoughts over destructive thoughts (thoughts that are often not necessarily true, but fear-based, self-limiting or not well-rounded in perspective on the totality an issue); questioning where fearful thoughts are coming from and choosing to give into them or not (hopefully not); choosing the happy thought in a given moment instead of ruminating on the negative circumstance at hand (there may be something imperfect always going on throughout life and we will miss the beauty if we let it obfuscate reality entirely)
- Self-expression both creatively and interpersonally.
- Autonomy where it matters and self-reliance. Nobody likes being told what to do, but most people give up there power to realize their ideals because we’re told it’s too difficult and “idealistic” is used as a dirty and naive word by some these days.
- Having multiple baskets to put your precious eggs in; not getting too attached to an idea panning out exactly as you envisioned it; letting go of expectations.
**this will be an ongoing list, but this will do it for now**
Minimalism is a tool allowing for more time spent on the main things you really care about.
It’s a tool to increase your ability to have more happiness-inducing experiences, which, in the long run, should increase your general happiness as a person, in my mind. Minimalism by itself is just one part of the equation. I’d say if you were a minimalist with no friends or love in your life, you may be inclined to be less happy! So, all that being said, other things are needed. What those are and in what degrees are up to you!
Becoming a minimalist is NOT a minimal process. It’s a PROCESS.
This is going to take more than a day. It might take a few weeks. But, honestly, I’m already in love with the change and i’m open to adaptation. In my experience thus far, there will be many moments of lucidity, which further push you forward. I think that’s a good sign. And, sometimes, the most important signs in life (all maybe?) are subtle; you just have to pay attention.
In any case, in these moments of lucidity, I may see what I truly love most, envisioning it, the freedom and mobility of it, future adventures within it, completely uninhibited and having more and more of it, coincidentally, with less and less of what I don’t want. What could be better than that?
These feelings I do believe are true and valid and are probably most in alignment with what I deeply desire, however, one of the paradoxes of life may arise: life is simple, but it isn’t always easy. So, I expect various influences within myself to grapple with this whole transition.
After all, we put a lot of emphasis on material acquisition and maintenance in modern life—I can only speak for American culture because I have yet to leave and experience a different country with a significantly different cultural approach to consumption. So, with that being said, you may get some raised eyebrows.
Well, nothing is truly free and the cost for becoming a minimalist is an internal process of emotions around attachment and accepting others’ judgments. Again, what’s with this guy judging you for decluttering your closet? It’s not his closet. Your closet doesn’t affect him in any way (except it does: it makes him think about his).
It’s time to reevaluate some unfulfilled desires to be perceived a certain way, desires that necessitate dressing a certain way, having certain possessions for certain activities to be that certain way. What is it, exactly, about that certain way? Isn’t there another one?
There are many ways and minimalism, in all of its diverse degrees, is an approach that, I believe, will slowly become an increasingly socially acceptable way to move through the world as time goes on, not that social un-acceptedness should deter someone from diving in; the movement has to start somewhere, right? And, perhaps one day living with more than what one needs will generally become considered a passé sort of practice, sort of comparable to shaving armpits and legs (I don’t do that either anymore). Who knows? All I know is that this transition is a part of my story and I am owning it for myself.
Have a simple and lovely day.