Minimalism: Live Better With Less
You may have heard of the trend of “minimalism” as it’s had a wave of popularity over the past year. And while this wave of minimalism is a relatively new concept (born of the growing consumerist culture originating with the industrial revolution), minimalism as a lifestyle and somewhat spiritually intentional way of being isn’t all that new. Minimalism itself is an intentional way of life that help you to focus on the things that bring value to you.
Is it possible that living with less could actually be living with more?
Becoming Spiritual Through Minimalism
A number of famous proponents for minimalism were famous religious or spiritual leaders. I bet you didn’t know that Jesus, Confucius, and Lao Tzu were all minimalists. All of them embodied the teachings they spread by focusing on simple, meaningful, and materially lacking lifestyles.
More recently, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and even Albert Einstein all lived very minimalist lifestyles. In their work you can see their reverence toward the natural beauty of the universe and the great value they found in simplicity and functionality.
Living With Less
You might be wondering why, in our constant drive to do more, achieve more, and make more to buy more, I am writing about living with less. Well, I truly believe that becoming a minimalist, even in small ways, can improve our sense of purpose and even our life vitality. Right now, if you’re like me, your closet is full of clothing you don’t wear, your home is cluttered by things you don’t use, and yet you still fight the desire to buy that new pair of jeans, the newest phone, new home décor, etc. Yet, how much does this desire to consume and collect distract us from appreciating what we have, prevent us from using our creativity, and most importantly, shackle us to societal values of consuming beyond our needs and abilities.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is much more than just the ability to live with less stuff. It’s about the meaning you give to living with less, and the added meaning you give to the things, people, and time that begin to inhabit the space that once just belonged to “stuff.”
Minimalism is about being intentional. When you make intentional, clear, and purposeful decisions about what to have in your life and what to do with your time, you are putting attention where many don’t. By choosing what is there, and being intentional about what to remove, you will be able to see improvements not only in closet space, but also in relationships and focus.
Minimalism is freedom. When you are no longer chained by the societal drive to possess, and the lie that these possessions will bring happiness, you will feel a new sense of freedom. Not only will you prevent yourself from the game of “keeping up with the neighbors” but you’ll likely improve your credit and loan situations in addition to shifting the focus from happiness based on material to happiness based on quality time and meaningful relationships.
Minimalism is simplicity and consistency. While many people wear different masks around different groups of people, saving money around family but wearing expensive clothing around friends or co-workers, minimalism allows you the freedom and simplicity of just being you. When you can focus on the things that are important to you and choose this intentional lifestyle, there are less masks and less games to play. Instead of focusing on how to materially impress groups of people, you can focus on finding what’s really important to you and then being 100% that. You may find that the people you’re trying to impress are also wearing a mask with you. This practice of being authentic with your values may affect how you view your social relationships; you may realize some relationships are no longer beneficial for your health.
How to Practice Minimalism
Firstly, recognize that adopting a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean you need to donate or sell all of your stuff today. Minimalism is a practice, which means that you never stop practicing. You can start with small steps like clearing out your garage, noting the things in your kitchen or closet that you use, and maybe giving them to a family member, friend, or non-profit that can put them to use. Eventually, you should be able to identify the things you use a lot, and when you need to replace those things, you will have more money to buy a quality thing (since you haven’t been participating in retail therapy as much as you used to).
Eventually, you will notice a change in your life focus. As you break free of cultural norms, you’ll also break through into a new way of relating to everything in your life. Once you begin to choose quality over quantity, you will see why minimalism is almost like finding spirituality and a new way of life.