4 Lessons to Learn from the Minimalists
I always enjoyed buying things, or finding something on sale that seemed to be too expensive to afford without that discount – or pseudo-discount, who knows. I remember that feeling – or, rather, an illusion – that more things mean more opportunities. You are very welcome to believe so in our consumerism-driven world. Changing plans, expectations and needs can be blamed for preventing you from enjoying or using all of these things – you can also get creative with making up other excuses – and that’s predictable. It may be quite natural, but suffering from guilt, regret and frustration because of that was awful – something I could least anticipate at the moment of getting excited over a new purchase. I have learned my lessons the hard way, but you don’t have to – if you borrow some ideas from the minimalists.
1. Bless with less
While we can’t deny some logic to newly acquired things being synonymous to new opportunities, more of one does not always mean more of another. Since your living and storage space, budget, time, memory and even attention span are limited, the things you can use, control, keep in mind or in order will be also limited. Perhaps to different numbers depending on a variety of factors, but still limited – whether you are aiming at the world record of juggling many tasks at once, or simply trying to “increase your productivity”. When you have lots, it’s confusing. Your ability to focus depends on how crowded your space or time is, and the same goes for enjoying something. Multi-tasking may be a fairly good strategy to use sometimes, but it’s a miserable lifestyle.
Minimalism can be explained in different ways to clarify that it isn’t anything extreme, as some people assume only because someone has taken it to that level – someone they know, or that “weird” person who claims having just 20 or 30 items is enough. To each his own, but minimalism is not about numbers or a set of rules and restrictions. I prefer to steer away from any definitions, but I’d say it’s about being comfortable with less rather than stressed out with more. Who couldn’t use that?
2. Space invaders
Space is essential to any home or interior, but we tend to forget about it – perhaps because it seems granted, like the air we breathe and the light that comes from the sun. Space is not granted, although we start out with more and add things to adjust it to our lifestyles, believing that comfort, joy and happiness come from the things we own. While overly encouraged to believe this by the advertisers, we still need to navigate between parts of our “home, sweet home” universe, and to access everything easily.
When the navigation and search become problematic, there’s nothing sweet about it, or lots of things turning from necessities into space invaders. We could probably spell it as “in-way-ders”, as they get in the way all the time, distracting you from what you wanted to do, or to find. This ruins opportunities, productivity, mood, health and even relationships. Space is essential for living just like water is for nutrition and cooking. A mix of burned foodstuff instead of a proper meal would hardly be enjoyed by anyone, just as a feeling of living inside a closet or a storage unit is not inspiring, either. Do you have enough space, or are your possessions crowding you?
3. Fed up with chaos? Buy a penthouse!
I still can’t believe it, but apparently, some company tried to incorporate this into their advertising campaign. Does advertising really have to get that ridiculous before we understand buying more is not a solution and not a way to happiness? Anyway, this phrase is a perfect example, being an over-exaggerated version of what many people start thinking at the point of accumulating too much stuff: if there’s not enough room for what we own, we need to move into a bigger house. While a growing family may need this, a growing amount of stuff doesn’t – if you own and control it, instead of your things owning and controlling you. Use the space you have to determine the number of things you want to keep, not the other way around.
While some people with lots of clutter accumulated can afford a “penthouse” (or simply more space), this won’t solve the problem unless their shopping or hoarding habits change. With the perfect formula of not buying more than you can use, afford or store, some individuals manage to go slightly over that and still feel happy with it. Sadly enough, many of those drowning in clutter don’t realize that extra storage space costs them too much only because they don’t have the courage to reduce their stuff, or think they “might need it someday”. It would probably be cheaper to buy or rent a certain item in this case, if it’s really what is being vaguely referred to as “just in case.” Otherwise than having the necessities, first aid or emergency supplies (maybe floods or heavy snowfalls do occur in your area), why look forward to “cases” that are doubtful and probably not very positive, if this limits your today’s opportunities and what you could enjoy now?
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4. This is Sparta!
One of the biggest myths related to minimalism is a Spartan environment with bare walls and little or no furniture. However, you don’t need this kind of kicking-out strategy and simply throwing out nearly everything to proudly call yourself a minimalist, assuming that your rooms have to be empty and boring. Minimalism is about balance, not absence, and quality over quantity, or owning fewer but nicer things while removing those you don’t appreciate, actually use or take delight in. It’s about living within your means and the space you have without cutting down on comfort for the sake of simply buying more things.
While it may still seem confusing to you how “less is more” can be true, I have no problem explaining this, and I don’t miss chasing “sales” and “discounts”. Minutes, not hours needed for cleaning, organizing, or searching for something, as you can easily remember what you own and where it is. More time to relax, to spend with people you love, to enjoy something when you have less stress, less clutter in your rooms and your head. Learning to value experiences more than things. Being happier with what you have instead of always wishing to buy something bigger, newer or better. Does it still matter how you call this?