WHAT IS MINIMALISM ALL ABOUT? WHY ARE MORE PEOPLE EMBRACING THIS LIFESTYLE?
Minimalism is an art movement that originated in the early 60s. It was a reaction against abstract expressionism. It is a movement aimed at eliminating all excess in order to expose the most basic essence of art. But since I do not have much interest in the art aspect of minimalism, I will jump right into the colloquial meaning of minimalism.
Minimalism refers to anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials.
You may have heard of the Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Or perhaps you have watched the documentary on minimalism – A documentary about the important things. If you have not, I do recommend it to you. But to simplify the whole concept as explained in the documentary, the minimalism lifestyle is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear, worry, overwhelm, guilt, depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we have built our lives around. It encourages you to focus on what really matters in life – love, relationships, health and so on.
We have heard of project 333 which started by Courtney Carver who dressed with 33 items in 3 months; just alternating. While this was her way, it is not the paradigm. And this is where people get confused. You are not expected to own only 100 items and no television. Another group of people only see it as a modern looking closet or a neat looking home decor. While that might be a result of the lifestyle change, that is not the point. A beautiful reality about minimalism is the subjectiveness. There is no clear rule to go about it. And for this reason, a lot of minimalists have found their way to embrace this lifestyle. You just need to find what works for you.
I have studied more about the concept of minimalism and what I have been able to garner from it and what really motivates me is the core belief of minimalists. “Living with intentionality”. We live in a world where we are expected to own stuff. Whether you “need” them or not, you are in a way required to possess these things in order to be cool or accepted. Some claim that “owning things” brings you happiness. All around us are ads. Our friends and family are also walking advertisements without realizing it. The huge logos, the constant hauls by our favorite social media personalities, the sale signs, the list goes on. But we never really stop ourselves to ask “do I really need that?” It is the intentional focus on the things that matter to us, owning items that we enjoy and which bring joy into our lives; and the elimination of the excess or the distractions.
That is not to say if you need a new pair of shoes, you should not get it. But we have heard people say the words, “I have nothing to wear” even when they have a wardrobe full of hundreds of clothing. So are we buying things mindlessly and being stuck with them?
Minimalism encourages giving. I have always enjoyed giving. This is a value instilled in me by my mother. A wardrobe clearout though difficult because of the sentimental attachment we have to things, may change someone’s life. We all want to change the world and never know where to begin. But little deeds like this can go a long way. Sort out the things you do not need or do not use and give them to the less priviledged around you. There are organizations such as Salvation army who would take these items to disaster areas and families around the world. the simple act of giving rewards you with a feeling of content knowing you are making a change in someones life. And the people at the receiving end are also very pleased. A win-win.
It may come as no surprise to you that the more stuff we own, the more stressed we feel. The more “stuff” you have in your life, the more your attention and thoughts are consumed, and the more your stress is triggered. We all can testify to the calmness we feel walking into a tidy room with few distractions here and there. Now imagine that being your everyday life. Only difference is, you love every item that is around you and they each serve a purpose. Also you have time to spend on building the relationships in your life. And when going out, you can see every item in your wardrobe making it easier to make a choice. An airy feeling of satisfaction and peace in all areas of your life.
Not just about things
Having the understanding of what Minimalism is about, we can apply it to other areas of our lives including friendships, time, Social media, work, style and as already mentioned, belongings. Are there friendships that serve no purpose to you at all or rather drain the life from you? How about the things you spend your time on? We follow social media accounts that make us devalue our own lives simply because we see the highlights of their lives and mistake that for their everyday life. How about spend that time with family. Spend time doing things that bring you joy. Get rid of the noise in your life and live with more intentionality; serving others and spreading love wherever and whenever you can. A huge advantage to this is you start to notice an improved personal well being.