What is Minimalism?
In a society focused on growing capital and buying the coolest gadgets and clothes, minimalism breathes fresh air into many tense lives. At its core, minimalism is the shift of focus from keeping up with the Joneses, to finding everything you need within yourself. Rather than live for the instant gratification of shiny new toys, minimalism encourages us to think less about “things” and more about who we are. It’s commonly associated with the decluttering movement popular with millennials, but minimalism is so much more than simply tidying up. It is a movement that helps us identify what we value in life, and how to intentionally live alongside those values.
Why Has It Taken Hold?
Our society has flourished in the materialistic world of capitalism. People learned that the more money you have, the more you can buy. However, with the consumption of more and more things, many people found themselves on the rat-wheel of life; trying to keep up a lifestyle that looks good on the outside, but is ultimately unfulfilling. Suddenly, a counter-culture emerged of people who wanted their lives to be more about the time they spent, instead of the dollars the spent. This especially appealed to the millennial generation whose job prospects and earning prospects seemed grayer than their parents. So, what if you can’t afford a giant house or fancy car? No worries, because inner peace, loving relationships, and giving back can bring more joy than six-figure income.
… But I Need Everything…
Minimalism is sometimes seen as an all-or-nothing concept: you can only own up to 100 items, you can’t spend money on superficial things, etc. That kind of thinking is restrictive and oppressive. Minimalism does force you to think about the impact everything you buy has on your quality of life. Does owning 50 pairs of shoes fulfill you? Or would owning 10 pairs be more than enough? Here’s the thing: it’s okay to own items that add value to your life; often its things that have function or sentimental value that we hold dearest. If buying a new cell phone brings you joy, then live your life! Allow yourself as much joy as you can. However, when you are surrounded with more than you need, your life suddenly becomes about updating and maintaining those things. Your life should be about you, not things.
What Can This Philosophy Bring to Your Life?
Minimalism has changed the lives of thousands of people. Many consider it an act of freeing yourself to live your dreams, or even allowing yourself to take a breath and believe you are enough. Minimalism inspired the decluttering movement in which you go through every single item you own and decide if it adds value to your life or is a burden. After the process, your house is likely cleaner and more organized. This can have monumental effects on people who are affected by their environments; they can think clearer, breath lighter, and feel more open in their space. It encourages you to think before you purchase; think before you bring more things into your home. Minimalism has had incredible effects on the budgets of those who practice it because overall, you spend less. When you free yourself of the pressure to keep up with trends and advertised-happiness, you end up with more money. For some people that means they can contribute more to causes they support, take care of family members, or invest in savings. For others, it can mean working less hours and spending more time with those they love. Minimalism is about taking control of your home and your finances because if your things and your money don’t bring you value, are they really making you happy?
How Can It Help Your Relationship with Others?
It can be incredibly empowering to look at all your relationships and consider which ones add value to your life. Are you spending time with people who drain all your energy or make you feel negatively about yourself? Why are you giving power to people who continually hurt you? Minimalism is about living an intentional life; give your time to people who give your life value and lift you up. This can mean cutting out friends who have a habit of pointing out your flaws, or even cutting out family members who won’t accept you for who you are. You are in control of your time, choose wisely who you give it to. This concept is especially significant to people-pleasers, those who have a hard time saying no to anyone. You don’t owe anyone anything. Minimalism is about removing all feelings of guilt and pity when spending time with people. Using the simple formula of subtracting those who don’t add value to your life can potentially result in less friends. Or, it can result in deeper relationships with those who lift you up. Curating your relationships will help your positive relationships grow stronger, allowing more joy into your life.
How Can It Help Your Relationship with Yourself?
Similar to weeding out the people who bring you down, minimalism helps you weed out the negative thoughts you tell yourself. We all have that voice in the back of our heads saying we aren’t good enough, we’ll never get that promotion, “no wonder I’m single”, etc. Our self-esteem is directly related to all other facets of our lives. Through minimalism, you learn to be grateful for the items, people, and opportunities in your life. You’re able to focus more on the blessings you have rather than comparing yourself to others. Suddenly, those negative thoughts transform into thoughts of gratitude and appreciation. Obviously, it’s not as simple as decluttering your space and then you love yourself. Self-love requires effort and empowerment. Minimalism empowers people to take control of all aspects of their lives, including their inner-relationship. Declutter the thoughts that bring you down, add methods of self-love that will lift you up. For example, rather than going shopping because you feel depressed, try spending time with someone who listens well and makes you feel safe. Treat yourself like the number one priority; you deserve joy and an awesome life.
Minimalism has become a global movement of people becoming empowered to live their best lives. Through deciding what adds value to your life, you have more space in your home, more time for people you love, and more energy to do things that bring you joy. Despite circumstances, minimalism teaches us that we have the power to be fulfilled.
by Guest Author, Devon Funk.