My favourite philosopher Henry David Thoreau put it best when he wrote, “the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it”.
Try it out next time you buy something, instead of thinking in terms of dollars, think to yourself; how long did I have to work to be able to purchase this?
The term ‘Minimalist’ can encompass a wide range of people living very different lives. I have been living minimally for the past couple years, and over the last 6 months I have decided to simplify my life even further. I prefer using the word simple over minimal, because it better describes what I am trying to achieve. The word minimal can make you think of having less, or missing out on something, but that’s not what is happening. Living a more simplistic life is about creating more value with less. Having less can make you feel freer, lighter and happier.
Some reasons to choose a simplistic lifestyle are:
#1 Time is the most valuable commodity we have:
Time is a finite resource, yet many of us waste it doing things we do not enjoy (such as a career that doesn’t bring fulfilment), just so we can have more ‘things’ that don’t bring us any greater happiness. Most of us would be happier if we had more time to spend with friends and family, or pursuing our passions; yet very few of us spend the majority of our time doing these things.
The solution is to work less, and have more time for the things we enjoy! Some people are lucky enough to work at something they are passionate about, but unfortunately, we can’t all make a living pursuing our passions. However, we CAN all spend less time working. We just need to downsize our costs, which enable us to work less hours and still have the same quality of life. It is that simple.
#2 Psychological well-being: Reduce maintenance and worry
Personally, having too many things causes me unnecessary stress. I don’t quite understand why, but I have a physiological reaction; almost like a panic attack, when I am surrounded by too many ‘things’. I feel overwhelmed when there are things around the house that serve no purpose. I can feel my cortisol levels increasing just thinking about it. Minimalism wasn’t so much a choice for me, but a prescription.
Even if you are not like me, and don’t have a physical eversion to excessive ‘stuff’, with more possessions also comes more responsibility. Not only do you have to work more to have more possessions, but you work to maintain those possessions. You dust them, take them in for repair, wash them, care for them, ect. You could spend a whole day off caring for your ‘stuff’.
Also, with expensive possessions comes worry. You worry about breaking them, losing them or having them stolen. Caring too much for expensive possessions can distort your relationship towards things, making those things seem more valuable to your life than they are.
#3 Environmental reasons: Shop second hand & use the library
Have you seen the amount of stuff that ends up at the local dump?
It’s important for us to start putting more thought into our purchases. Try to only buy things that have a function. Ask yourself; ‘what purpose will this serve’, or ‘is this adding value to my life?’ Maybe even consider; ‘where will this item be in two years?’. If the answers is; the landfill, maybe think twice about it. Also, consider purchasing some things second hand; it is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
It really all comes down to being more deliberate and thoughtful about what we purchase. I LOVE books! I love them so much, that I even own a few. However, most of them are donated after I am finished reading them. Most of the time I get my books from the library. Yes, sometimes I have to wait in a queue for them, but I can always read something else in the meantime.
When moving towards a more minimalistic lifestyle, navigating relationships with family and friends can be difficult. They may feel like you are judging them because they do not agree with you. It’s important to communicate your personal reasons for choosing this lifestyle, and be understanding that it is not right for everyone. Living minimally does not mean getting rid of everything, it is about making conscious choices about what items are valuable and functional in your life.
Having less makes you feel freer, lighter and happier.