“The things you own end up owning you”
– Fight Club, 1999
Let’s talk minimalism. We can all agree that the minimalist lifestyle and fashion have become quite trendy. Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying made a lot of noise when it came out. The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus also share their story on their blog and recent documentary, which can be found on Netflix.
For many people minimalism is seen as crisp whites and grey hues. But the truth is, it’s way more than a fashion movement. For others, when they think about minimalism, they think it’s about giving up everything.
Minimalism is a philosophy that is backed up by some amazing principles. It’s a simple practice of owning what you need. Appreciating what you have and carving time and space for the things that matter.
The Minimalists (as cited above) define it like this:
“Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”
To me what these guys are saying echoes the famous line from Fight Club: “the things you own end up owning you.” We live in a culture that uses shopping and consuming as a way of escape. In this culture, our happiness depends on what we own rather than who we are, our goals, our sense of spirituality or even relationships.
A minimalist culture seeks to eliminate excess, so that we can make time for the things that actually matter to us. The benefits are endless, but here are some to get you thinking:
A Life with Meaning
When you stop focusing on “things” you begin to think about your life and your happiness very differently. Your experiences become important to you, and you begin to find joy by embracing the little things. A life with intention means a life with meaning and mindfulness.
Quality versus Quantity
By owning less, you begin to appreciate the items you have. Whether it’s your home or your wardrobe, you’ll find that your shopping habits change entirely. You’ll begin to value quality over quantity, and this means you’ll appreciate what you have, and take good care of your belongings.
The consumerist world we’re often trapped in makes us broke. This is because it tells us to buy items we don’t need. Shopping will never make us truly happy, or connect us to ourselves or those we love. Once we recognize this, and seek happiness elsewhere, we also save a lot of money.
A Better Planet
There’s no doubt that consuming less, buying less and wasting less is one of the best ways of protecting our planet. If you want to do good for the planet, rethink your shopping and consumption.
Getting Started on Minimalism
You may be asking: how do we get started?
Marie Kondo’s book is a not a bad place to start. The premise behind the book is to look at all your belongings, and think about whether they spark joy. If not, the item goes. The first thing you want to do is de-clutter. This will mean you’ll want to go through your stuff and make a list of what you keep, what you’ll definitely give away, and a maybe pile. Hide the maybe pile, and if in a few months you don’t think about it, then let it go.
The next step is to ensure that you keep things as they are. No point in getting rid of all your stuff and then going into a shop and recklessly buying some more. Maintaining this means that you change your buying habits. Make a list of questions that you have to answer before you allow yourself to buy something. Can you live without it? If yes, then give it a miss. You have to keep yourself accountable.
When you do choose to buy something, think about whether it replaces something that you have worn out. Not only will this be a good way for you to avoid unnecessary purchases, but also, it keeps your space free of clutter. Make sure you have a whole list of questions that will eliminate any bad purchases. Think about whether this new item will serve you, whether it is made ethically, and with quality.
Life shouldn’t be about things – it should be about experiences and relationships. So as you embark on this new journey, use this time to think about what really sparks joy in your life.