As the tiny house movement continues, more and more people are asking themselves, could I do that? Would I be able to fit all my belongings into that tiny space and still be happy? Your personal answer may be a yes or no, but we could all learn from these tiny home dwellers when it comes to how we use our space. For many the answers are found in minimalism. Now, if you’re like many of our clients you already have a fuzzy idea of what minimalism is, but really haven’t been able to nail it down. Not to worry…you are not alone! As the concept of minimalism has gained traction there has been a growing variety of definitions that have emerged. Today we would like to take a closer look at minimalism and learn more about how using a minimalist mindset can not only make you happier, but also change your outlook on everything you do and buy.
Now, before you stop reading, we are not telling you to open your closet and throw everything out! Instead, our goal here is to explore the techniques minimalism provides that can help improve our daily lives. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines minimalism as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity”. This concept or style has been adapted to include many different categories, including lifestyle.
Our friends, The Minimalists, define minimalism as “a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom.” To many people’s surprise, minimalism does not consist of rules on the amount of items you can own or restrictions and guidelines on how to live your life. Instead, it is more of a tool to question the things you have around you and how they affect your everyday life so that you can thrive.
Minimalism is also about simplicity.
When we talk about simplicity we are talking about getting back to basics, such as food, water and shelter. The Minimalists go on to say, “Ultimately, the problem lies within us, within the significance we give to our things. Most people work thousands of hours a year to buy things they think they need, not questioning if they need those things at all.” Today we are led to believe we need all of these things to make our lives better. Minimalism likes to keep things simple. Do you ever find yourself wishing you could go back to the times when life was simpler? The truth is that you can still live a simple life in modern times but first you will have to acknowledge the things we take for granted that were once considered luxuries. We’ve learned that today’s modern gadgets may or may not be making your life simpler. If you’re not careful you could easily spend more time maintaining your technology than you would have if you had completed the activity without it.
Minimalism as it relates to belongings.
In a society that believes that the more you have the better off you are, trying to pare down to the essentials is even harder. We hold onto things that were given to us as gifts or just because we spent money on them, when in reality we should be looking at the things we own as tools. Now, we are not saying you can’t keep gifts or mementos, we just want you to think about why you have them. This is the hardest step when it comes to thinking about becoming more minimalistic because you have to change your mindset. We have been raised in a society that gauges wealth by the things we own, like having the biggest house, the nicest cars or the latest gadgets, but do these things really make us happy? Are we really happy racking up credit card debt just to keep up with the Jones’s?
Minimalism as it relates to time.
When working with our clients we often hear them say, “I am going to work on that one day”. This can be anything from reading a stack of magazines to learning to sew, but our question to them is, “what are you willing to give up to do that?” There are only 24 hours in everyday, and the things we can do in that time period are dictated by the decisions we make. If you want to spend all of your time doing one thing, you have to be honest with yourself that you will not have time for the other things. Only you can decide what is most worthy of your time. We have found that, when you have simplified the things you own, the number of things you need to manage is less, creating more time to do things you actually enjoy.
Minimalism as a way of living.
The goal of minimalism is to free yourself of things that keep you from living the life you want to live. Sounds pretty great right? To achieve this, you may need to rethink what success is and what it means to you. When we stop trying to reach goals set by how society says we should live and really look into ourselves for what we want to achieve we will live a more fulfilled life. The Minimalist equation for success is: Happiness + Constant Improvement + Contribution = Success.
Minimalism in relationships.
Minimalism affects our relationships in many ways. While using minimalism as a tool, you will have more freedom to do the things you love with the people you love. As a positive side effect it will also free you from judgement or jealousy in relationships. We are all guilty of looking at the things people have with judgement or jealousy, but when you free yourself of the pressure from consumption you can enjoy people for who they are and not what they have.
Minimalism as it relates to organizing.
When it comes to organizing, using the minimalist mindset can help free yourself of the things you have been holding onto. When you are able to remove the emotional attachment to things and decrease your need to consume, you will be able to manage and maintain the things you have in an organized way. We always like to say “The less you have, the less you have to manage.”
In the simplest terms from The Minimalists, “minimalists search for happiness not through things but through life itself.” Isn’t that something we can all agree is a great goal?
If you would like to learn more about Minimalism please join us July 21, to watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things which has been created by our friends, The Minimalist. We’d love to see you there!
Resource: The Simplicity Essays by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus