I hate clutter. It makes me feel suffocated and trapped and yet I still find myself surrounded by the evidence of my over spending and materialistic consumer mentality. So I became intrigued when I heard about the new minimalist movement and their philosophy of living with less.
What is minimalism
Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus the creators of the “Minimalist” online community explain that at its core minimalism is a tool for finding freedom. Freedom from fear, worry, overwhelm, guilt, depression and more overarching freedom from the consumer culture we live in.
They emphasise that the philosophy is not about all material things being bad, it has more to do with the meaning we have assigned to possessions. We end up sacrificing in the areas that are meaningful to us, our health, relationships, passions, personal growth and a desire to contribute all in our pursuit of the happiness, self esteem, validation and belonging we have come to believe material things can bring us
The overriding theme of minimalism is to get more intentional about the material items we add into our lives. Minimalists search for happiness in life rather than material possessions. This fundamentally means discovering what is meaningful in each of our individual lives.
Joshua and Ryan sum it up in this sentence.
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important, so you can find happiness, fulfilment and freedom.
What are the benefits
Ridding ourselves of the shackles of modern life is a movement into freedom. A freedom which brings a number of benefits:
Peace of mind
If you believe physical possessions impact your mental and emotional health, you’re correct. But, not in the way you think. Excessive possessions rather than increasing our happiness drain our energy reducing our mental clarity and wellbeing.
A simple example of this would be the energy we spend looking for possessions we have misplaced amongst our overflowing closets or cluttered cabinets. Imagine the sense of order and relief a Marie Kondo’d closet could bring.
The action of clearing out our cluttered spaces is as effective as clearing our emotional baggage. Simply by bringing clarity and order into our spaces we create calmness and serenity in our minds.
Minimalism does not only relate to possessions it applies as significantly to how we schedule our time and our diaries. How many to-do’s, must-do’s and should do’s have we packed into our schedule at the expense of our meaningful to-do’s. These are the real to-do’s that support our visions and aspirations, that build our relationships and the quality of our lives.
Minimalism means cutting through the excess and noise and getting back to actions that meaningfully create a rich life.
Dave Ramsey, one of the most well known advocates of financial wellbeing very effectively summarises our excessive consumerism as follows: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
Within our self imposed prison of never ending acquisitiveness to have more we entrap ourselves within the paycheck to paycheck mentality or worse debt.
Minimalism releases us from this ceaseless cycle of more, more, more and gives us the freedom to enjoy the things that money cannot buy, time, flexibility and building memories in moments that count.
More quality time
When we are no longer slaves to our busy schedules and our possessions, the clarity and freedom we gift ourselves opens our minds to the non-material things we truly value, our family, friends and experiences. We give ourselves the space to explore and find what is truly meaningful to our happiness. We gain deeper insights into how we can use our time in the best ways to increase the quality of our lives.
We have tied so much of our self esteem into possessions. This is fleeting and lasts only as long as the possession is the latest and greatest. Imagine who you could be without the constant striving for validation in material things. Imagine exploring the wonderful, beautiful gifts the universe has placed inside your heart and discovering the enduring self confidence that can only grow from a deep and certain self love and self belief.
While minimalism does have its detractors who claim it is the preserve of the upper middle class or wealthy, or another fleeting fad, the concept of clearing out the unnecessary and non-essential from our lives and getting to the core of what makes us happy and fulfilled sounds like a concept I could get comfortable with.
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