Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” Chinese philosopher Confucius agreed, stating, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Even Buddha jumped on the bandwagon. “To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance,” he said. They are all, of course, talking about minimalism, which is the ultimate step in decluttering. More than just cleaning your apartment or organizing your garage, minimalism is a frame of mind where the notion of “less is more” is a way of life.
In the age of online shopping platforms like Amazon and Target putting nearly any conceivable product in the hands of consumers with free two-day shipping, minimalism sounds like a nice change of pace. After all, to quote noted nihilist Tyler Durden, “The things you own end up owning you.”
What is Minimalism?
From the Spartans of Ancient Greece to the monks of, well, pretty much every religion, living a minimalist lifestyle is a way of life. And the concept has seeped into the worlds of music, art, and design (have you opened up an Ikea catalog lately?). But the rise of consumerism has led to lives full of clutter—clutter in the form of possessions, clutter in the form of debt, clutter in the form of stress. Remember that old pearl of wisdom about never having enough to be truly happy? It’s suddenly a nagging realization for many awash in a sea of discarded GAP bags and flat screen TV boxes.
Should You Start Living a Minimalist Life?
Before you start taking the minimalist’s path, it’s imperative that you ask yourself the following questions first:
1. Why do I even want to start living a minimalist life in the first place?
List down as many reasons as possible and rank them in order of urgency and priority. Maybe you are looking to be free from debt or to reclaim more space in your house. Your answer to this question will help you focus your efforts and energy on making the right decision and doing what’s best for you.
2. Am I willing to let go of my limited edition (insert name of collector’s item here)?
This question determines your attitude towards your possessions. A minimalist would be willing to let go of things that he or she doesn’t need and be willing to keep only the essentials.
3. Will I be able to shift effortlessly to this pared-down lifestyle?
The pace and degree that one needs to transition living a minimalist lifestyle vary from person to person. Start with something small, such as your wardrobe. Try keeping half of your clothes in storage and see if a leaner closet works for you.
5. How will my significant other react to living a minimalist lifestyle?
Changing your lifestyle will also impact the lives of those nearest you. Sit down with your spouse or significant other and list the details of when and how you want to accomplish this goal.
6. Will it matter to me how others think about this lifestyle change?
Your relatives, friends and immediate social circle may feel compelled to offer advice on how you can go about your objective of living a minimalist lifestyle or how pursuing such an objective would be a bad idea. While this advice may come from a good place, they may not always work well for you. In the end, it is still you who will decide what specific steps you’ll take in your pursuit of living a minimalist life.
A Minimalist Life Is Worth Pursuing
Clutter does not only refer to physical things. Bad habits, antiquated ideas, and toxic relationships can also contribute to a messy and disorganized lifestyle. Nonetheless, physical things and possessions can be a good place to start in attempting to living a minimalist lifestyle. By letting go of unnecessary stuff in your life, you will notice that your mental and emotional space also begins to clear up and usher in more opportunities for you to think about more essential components of your life like your health and relationships.
Consequently, living a minimalist life affords you more focus and less stress. With more mental space and clarity, you will be able to pursue more important things and the endeavors that add value to your life. After all, your worth is made more than the things that you possess.
If you are considering to start living a minimalist lifestyle, it will be a good idea to learn from individuals who were able to successfully shift to minimalism. Depending on the direction that you wish to pursue, you can learn from the likes of Fumio Sasaki (radical minimalism), Joshua Becker (rational minimalism) and Marie Kondo (KonMari Method). Or you can maybe get some practical tips from the men dubbed as “The Minimalists”—Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.