“Love people and use things, because the opposite never works”
– The Minimalists: Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
I have found that there is a sort of stigma surrounding the word and lifestyle of minimalism. People hear “minimalism” and typically respond with a big eye roll and a “Okay, we get it, you don’t want things” while imagining an apartment with a single chair and a mattress on the ground maybe. While that could be defined as minimalism, for me it’s something else entirely.
My interpretation of the concept of minimalism is pretty simple. Live with more intention. That’s the most watered-down, basic foundation I have for it. I definitely do agree with the whole opposition of materialism (to a degree). This year I’ve donated probably a good 80% of my belongings and I still feel like I own too much stuff. Owning things isn’t inherently bad, though. That’s where a lot of confusion stems from, I think. In my opinion, you don’t have to strip everything down to the absolute bare minimum just to survive. Just simplify things. Get rid of the clutter. Of all of the things that you’re holding onto for “one day” or for “just in case”. It’s still hard for me, but I’m trying to keep only the things that genuinely bring value to my life. Whether it’s literally something functional – like a my desk or my laptop, or if it’s something that might bring me joy – a hobby-item, for example. I feel like I have been explaining why I feel this way more often lately – mostly to family who have been asking what gifts I might want since the holidays are coming up.
Aside from just the material goods side of minimalism, I believe that it also means minimizing and simplifying your mental state. I don’t think I really worded that quite right, but what I’m trying to say is that there is so much that goes on in our minds that I think everyone needs to just quiet it down every once and a while to reflect. Just take a minute to calm all those thoughts. To not worry about what’s coming up in the future or what happened in the past – all we have is this moment right now. Try to not get too occupied with other things. I’ve found that the Minimalists have a lot of messages that echo many ideas of various spiritual teachers and philosophers that I have been learning about lately – Anthony De Mello, Eckhart Tolle, Don Miguel Ruiz, Alan Watts… These concepts are found everywhere – that’s got to mean something, right?
The documentary Minimalism (it’s streaming on Netflix!) was the first thing that I watched that sparked my interest in a change in lifestyle. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. There is so much that I could ramble on about because everything is connected and everything that I have learned so far is so intriguing. Don’t worry, I won’t talk your ears off. I’ll leave you all with this little post for today, though – I’m sure I’ll touch on this topic again in more depth in the future. Look into some of these peoples’ teachings – let me know your thoughts!