The most important things in life aren’t things.
— Anthony D’Angelo
Minimalism is a trending topic these days. Many people routinely advocate and practice minimalist living. And to most people minimalism simply means owning less stuff. But like the blind men describing an elephant, everybody describes minimalism in their own way. In this article, we will tell you exactly what minimalism is, how you can adopt it in your life and how it can change your life.
What is minimalism and how you can be minimalistic?
Let’s get started with this simple definition:
Minimalism is getting rid of anything which holds us down by requiring our regular attention and care.
We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by companies urging us to buy more stuff. With discount offers, holiday sales, and enticing free goodies it’s difficult to resist the temptation to buy. And why not? The more things we have the more comfortable our lives would be, right? But in reality owning more stuff makes life more complicated. To illustrate our point, let us ask you these two simple questions:
1. Do you always find it difficult to choose what to wear to work or to a party?
2. Is it because you don’t have any clothes?
Most people would answer YES to the first question. But it is the second question which is more interesting – Does lack of clothes make it difficult to choose what to wear? … On the contrary, it is BECAUSE you have so many clothes that making a choice is difficult. And it is not just clothes. In every aspect of life, making a choice becomes difficult if there are multiple options or varieties to choose from. Should you eat Thai, Chinese or Indian tonight? Should you buy from the local grocer who gives you a discount of 5%, or should you drive further to the supermarket where you can get a 10% discount on the same stuff?
The Economist puts it beautifully:
If you can have everything in 57 varieties, making decisions becomes hard work.
Maybe that’s the reason why a lot of the most successful people in the world – like Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg – opt to wear the same clothes every day. This not only saves them time but the clothes they wear each day become their signature style.
Minimalism begins at home. A clutter-free home would give you more room to breathe. It will free you from the obligations of having to look after mundane things, repair them and make storage for them. This will directly translate to more productivity as you would have more time and energy to spend on things that really matter. But the big question here is how do you know what to keep and what to throw away?
Well, you can start with your bedroom. Look around and ask yourself:
What are the things I can get rid of and still live comfortably?
You would be surprised to find the number of unnecessary things you have accumulated over the years which are simply lying around occupying space. Are there clothes in your closet you haven’t worn in six months? You can give all of these to charity. Not only will it de-clutter your bedroom and your wardrobe it will also earn you some good karma. Now try doing the same for the rest of your house. If you still need some more inspiration for making your home minimalistic, here are some great pictures of some extremely minimalistic Japanese homes.
You can extend de-cluttering to your office as well. Get rid of the extra pens, books, and piles of wires lying around for a sleeker and cleaner desk. Clean up the desktop on your computer and keep only the icons you absolutely need.
Learn to separate out the luxury from the necessity.
To drive the point home, let’s take the example of a car. Here are the things you need to do if you own a car:
- Pay insurance for your car
- Regularly fill up on gas
- Pay yearly car registration fees
- Regularly get the car serviced
- Get it repaired if anything breaks down
- Find a free parking spot wherever you drive it to (or else pay for parking)
- Deal with the hassle of driving (while keeping an eye out for cops)
That’s at least seven things to take care of – and it’s a whole another story if you are ever involved in an accident. These are seven things which require your time, money and energy. And seven things you could get rid of by simply getting rid of your car!
Is minimalism the same for all?
So should you get rid of your car? Now that’s where you need to understand that there are many flavors of minimalism. Another person’s definition of minimalism may not work for you.
Find your own flavor of minimalism.
If your daily life does not require you to move around much but you still own two cars then, by all means, you should ditch your cars. Or if you can get by taking public transit or hiring a taxi then owning a car might not be a sensible idea. On the other hand, if you live in a remote location where a car is the only means of getting around then opting for a smaller car, for example, could be your flavor of minimalism.
What does minimalism apply to?
Another point of confusion with minimalism is thinking that it applies only to materialistic things. Remember – minimalism refers to getting rid of ANYTHING which holds you down. This could be your plethora of social media accounts which continuously divert your attention away from work and studies. Or it could an overabundance of real life “friends” which keep you so engaged in social pursuits that you hardly find time to do productive work. Minimalism can work across all aspects of your life.
Minimalism is less about de-cluttering your life and more about evaluating life’s priorities. When you get rid of the unnecessary, you are left with what you truly need to be happy. Minimalism teaches you to value relationships, cherish moments and enjoy experiences over material happiness. Minimalism expands your outlook and teaches you to be humble by taking away from you what you always took for granted.
So give minimalism a try. Let it free your life from the shackles of clutter and unnecessity. To put it simply – JUST LET GO!