At a time where people seem to define themselves by what they have -via Instagram bragging or the recent obsession with affluence, you’d be surprised to find that growing alongside that trend are an increasing number of individuals who identify themselves as minimalists.
Minimalists, i.e. people who choose to live comfortably with as few material possessions as possible – have become a staple in the sub-culture of many economies.
This decision doesn’t come from lack of motivation or ambition -as a matter of fact- many of them make reasonably solid incomes; but rather as personal decision and a means to not only ensure financial stability but also as way of disconnecting from the zeitgeist of wealth-seeking and enjoying life for it’s simple beauty.
The lifestyle choice is akin to people who enjoy hunting, camping, skydiving, or any seemingly niche commitment. There is no qualifier for it, other than that it works for them. As anything else, it comes with its’ own fill of pros and cons.
The question than becomes, “Is less, more?”. The answer may shock you.
Becoming a minimalist is a massive change.
Along with the obvious economical benefit of being a minimalist, many also report to be genuinely happier. As matter of fact, in the United States minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn, claims that minimalism may have even helped him to find his calling in life:
“Getting rid of the stuff is just the initial step. I found that once I got rid of everything in my way, it was much easier to focus on what was important in my life: health, relationships, pursuing my passion, personal growth, and contributing beyond myself.”
However, despite becoming a minimalist, in the article, he does imply that it was not all that he had to do in order to find happiness.
“We go way out of our way to add value to other people’s lives. I don’t know about you, but when I find value in something, I tend to share it.”
It seems that minimalism has assisted Millburn -to an extent, though his approach and calling may not be a “one size-fits-all for the average individual. Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Millburn states in the aforementioned article that his inspiration for pursuing the minimalist lifestyle was Colin Wright, whom is referred to as a remarkable minimalist on his own standing. Wright had this to say about the lifestyle-
“Minimalism is about getting rid of the things in your life that don’t add value so you can focus on the things that do. Beyond that, it’s a person-by-person set of rules.”
From the perspective of these two, we can see that minimalism in and of itself, may not be the answer that we’re looking for but may provide us the path to happiness and meaning – sans a multitude of accrued possessions.
But, what of the every man?
Well for the person interested in minimalism or becoming a minimalist, without going to the extremes of Millburn or Wright, there are a host of other issues to face. The primary issue of course being how to redefine yourself once you’ve made the decision.
The change is undeniably massive. According to the Huffington Post, the change in identity is in fact, the most massive adjustment to make. They spoke to Ryan Nicodemus -a co-founder of The Minimalists- blog (along with Millburn), who had this to say about the transition-
“It wasn’t really the stuff that was hard to get rid of. What really was difficult for me was my identity,” Nicodemus continues, “I had wrapped myself up in this corporation, in this high-profile job making lots of money, and I identified with that title and with that lifestyle, so that was probably the hardest thing for me to let go of.”
In addition to the redefining of self, it has also been noted that becoming a minimalist may also place an individual as a part of the counterculture, possibly ostracizing and stigmatizing them to popular society.
But minimalism will help you find happiness.
Despite any initial hardship, there are those who stand by their minimalist values, in synthesis with society at large and find happiness and advantages in the lifestyle once it’s been fully integrated into their day-to-day lives.
Benefits such as,
- Reduced decision fatigue.
- Freedom from fear, worry, and anxiety.
- Focus on the value of life.
How to become a minimalist one step at a time?
Regardless of the initial separation anxiety that some may have about giving up some of their things, it seems that the existential trade-of can be enormously gratifying – should the individual seek a more spiritually abundant existent as opposed to the kind that we are faced with in every day life.
Though the extreme may not be for everyone, there are certain things that the average person can do, to get a taste of what it’s like to live with less.
- You can start by assessing your belongings and considering what you may be able to live without.
- Slowly begin to sell, donate, or throwaway items that you may not need or create useless clutter.
- Once the clutter is gone, see what electronic devices that you could live without. (Most will find that a cellphone and/or laptop is sufficient enough).
- Continue to assess the things in your life, that you may have little to no use for.
- If you like the fresh abundance of freedom from the material things, think of downsizing, or simply try going a lengthy amount of time without buying in excess of what you need.
Embrace the change and discover the meaning of life.
If you’re willing to make the change, and attempt to downgrade your lifestyle -even incrementally, you may find yourself living a happier and overall healthier existence.
Don’t shy away in fear of change. Embrace what’s on the other side of what you’re accustomed to. Just one small change at a time, can lead you to discovering a whole new meaning to fulfillment in your life.
|||^||Wand’rly: The Rise of Less, a Story of Minimalists|
|||^||Huffington Post: The Most Challenging Part Of Becoming A Minimalist Is Changing Your Identity (VIDEO)|
|||^||Becoming Minimalist: Why Minimalism Should Not Be Entered Into Lightly|
|||^||Medium: 30 Things I’ve Carried For 15 Months On the Road (An Essay On Minimalism)|
|||^||The Minimalists: What is Minimalism?|
|||^||The Star: Is the minimalist lifestyle for you?|