What Is Minimalism? A Guide For Normal People.
What is minimalism? Is it throwing out all your possessions to live like a monk with a chair, table and 1 set of cutlery?
Is it 4 white walls and an empty closet?
Is it being a holier-than-thou pain in the proverbial with no hobbies or definable personality?
To me, minimalism is a way of life that favours people over things. It’s a concept that allows me to live a life filled with joy and abundance. A life of my choosing, rather than one dictated by the rules of modern society.
I consider myself a minimalist even though my closet is full of clothes. I have designer brands in there, including Louis Vuitton and Chanel, but I also have op-shop bargains. The thing that ties them all together is how much I enjoy each piece. I own what some people would consider too many pairs of shoes. But I wear each pair, and I feel good in them. Beautiful shoes bring me joy.
Does this go against everything you’ve heard about minimalism?
We’re often led to believe that minimalism is about getting rid of your possessions. It’s not, it doesn’t have anything to do with your stuff. It has everything to do with freedom and people and experiencing a life full of abundance.
Here’s the thing. Our consumer culture defines abundance as owning lots of things, whether we need them or not. A minimalist culture defines abundance as living a life full of things that bring you joy.
The worlds most famous minimalists –The Minimalists – define it as:
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.
Do You Feel Free?
Do you feel free when you look at all the tech gadgets you own? Do you feel free when you look at your house full of all the hippest knick-knacks and status symbols? Is there freedom in working long hours so you can afford all of your hip things?
Or would you rather be at home, hanging out with your friends and family? Partaking in, and enjoying life?
If you love working long hours and living with loads of things, then cool- carry on. But if you read those words and thought “yeah, I would like some freedom to enjoy my life” then let’s talk about minimalism and freedom some more.
How to become a minimalist
Don’t freak out and throw all of your stuff out straight away. This is a guide for normal people, and normal people have stuff. So let’s take this slowly.
First, you need to ask yourself:
What is minimalism to me?
Choose The Life You Want To Live
This is your life. How do you want to live? What does freedom look like to you?
We are dictated to by society, by our parents, our spouses, t.v. Have you ever stopped to think about what you want? Many of us follow the path of school – higher education- good job- better job- buy a house – fill it with things- retire – die because we’ve been told that’s the route to a successful life. But is that working for you? We’re lucky in our modern world that we have many different ways to earn money. With technology, we can live wherever we want and work at whatever makes us happy. So why do we persist in choosing the well-trodden path? And that’s the thing about our consumer society. We’re so busy consuming we don’t have the time or freedom to stop and think about what it is we really want for our lives.
So step 1 to becoming minimalist is to take a deep breath and ask yourself how do you want to live?
Decide What Makes You Happy
Minimalism is about living a life of abundance and joy, a life of freedom. Therefore it makes sense that knowing what makes you happy, and what brings you joy is essential.
What Do You Need To Live?
Now you know how you want to live, and what makes you truly happy, it’s time to take a long hard look at what you need to live your life.
Do you need 3 TVs? (Does anyone need 3 TVs? Really?) Do you need 20 t-shirts?
Again, this isn’t about throwing out everything you own. It’s about getting clear on which of your possessions bring you joy and facilitate your freedom.
For the work my husband and I do, we have an extraordinary amount of technical gear and their accompanying cords. The work we do makes us happy and facilitates our abundant life, so we find ways to keep all of that gear and those annoying cords organised and tidy. Because living in an uncluttered space makes me happy.
It’s not about the stuff, or the amount of stuff, it’s about loving what you have. And ensuring each thing you own has a purpose.
Take Small Steps
Changing your life isn’t usually something you do in one giant step. If you want this life change to stick, I suggest you take it in small steps.
When I started, I broke down each area of my life and looked at what I wanted to change in that area. I defined:
- What wasn’t working
- What was working
- What changes I could make
And then I slowly changed the parts I could change and compromised on the parts that I couldn’t.
By slowing down the change process, you allow your changes to stick, and you take the people around you with you on the journey.
What Is Minimalism To You?
How do you feel after reading this post? Are you ready to embark on your own path to freedom using minimalism as your tool? I’ve listed a few people who share wisdom on this subject and whose work I admire below. Take some time to do a bit of research and create your own definition of what minimalism is.