Why Minimalism Makes People Happy and Grows Exponentially
Frugality and minimalism may just be the tools that help save us from despair.
The time when minimalism only referred to aesthetically austere artwork is long gone. In fact, it’s been 60 years since it first started as an art movement in the post-World War II era.
But there’s more to minimalism than meets the eye.
Today, the principles of minimalism have not only influenced related fields like product design (if you’re holding an Apple device, you know what I’m talking about) but also our daily lives.
With influencers like Marie Kondo, TheMinimalists along with countless blogs and YouTube channels, Minimalism has percolated our psyche.
People who were supposedly living a hedonist life are also reconsidering their choices — one purchase at a time.
How is the shift happening? And why?
That is a question worth asking. After all, humans don’t shift their habits overnight for no reason.
Here are things that everyone loves about minimalism which makes it not only a fast-growing movement but also a philosophy of life.
Love People, Not Things
Consumerism is on fire.
Every day, we’re bombarded by advertisements to buy crap we don’t need. The main motive of all these companies is to create a problem and then solve it for you. You don’t need another dining table or another cable connection — but brands try their best to make you think you do.
Yet some of us have started to see through the veil of marketing. People who buy less material things have more space to think about their relationships and society at large.
It’s much better to spend your time with friends and family instead of the fastest electric piece of metal sold by a company with a P/E ratio above 1100. (Yes, I’m talking about Tesla).
Even more important than reducing purchases is to reduce the desire for things. I used to argue with my sister over stupid stuff like who gets to play with a ball and which part of the table was ‘mine.’ By adopting a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve not only reduced the desire to purchase new things but also be less attached to that which I already own.
When it comes to buying habits, here’s one question that has shifted my decision making forever :
“If I really need this product/service, why didn’t I know about it before I saw the advertisement?”
Even though we may not be perfect in judging our needs, it’s a good litmus test for every purchase you make. Chances are, you’ll regret every purchase made to solve a non-existent problem created by someone else.
Create Space to Think
The further you go on the scale of physical accumulation, the more distracted you become.
There’s a reason why monks and nuns take a vow of poverty — to create space to think.
When you let go of stuff you don’t need, you naturally spend less time maintaining or worrying about it.
Every purchase comes with a maintenance requirement. The bigger the purchase, the more time and money it takes to maintain. And there are only so many things you can take care of — which means you either get rid of it or use your money to hire someone to take care of it.
On top of the physical clutter, it leads to mental clutter and decision fatigue which leaves less brain power to focus on things that matter.
I had a small bedside table in my room. It had a drawer and a cabinet below it. I never kept anything in it. But I had to clean it every other day to remove the dust. Since the empty table doesn’t look good, I inevitably started putting things on top of it.
Once I removed it, I no longer had to clean it every other day. This gave me extra space to work out in my room and saved me ten minutes or so every day.
Although it’s a petty example, you can extrapolate this to other situations.
By removing physical clutter you not only create space to live but to think as well.
Empty Is Good Too
Fewer possessions mean fewer distractions. An opportunity to be present, to embrace boredom, and to take the air in.
Since you’re not burning mental calories on extraneous matters, there are only two choices left:
Focus on what matters
Be lost in your thoughts. (Time spent doing nothing is rarely wasted).
Most of us dwindle between these two choices. We neither focus on important tasks as much we need to, nor do we allow the mind to think.
Because we’re taught to fill empty moments. Everything should be planned and documented.
But empty is often good. Empty is great.
What was the last time you had a great idea? What were you doing?
Nothing much? Exactly.
“But in a world of finite resources, today’s neo-liberal consumer society has moved away from the old traditions of consuming only what we need and repairing what is broken, to a society of “must-have” era of industrial production where food, goods, and services are all part of a fossil fuel-based, an excessive society of waste and over-exploitation of our planetary resources.” — Anna Lappé, Activist and Writer
Dollar Voting is a concept that has changed my perspective on buying things forever.
It simply means every dollar you spend is a vote for what kind of world you want to be in.
Speaking and writing about environmental issues doesn’t mean anything when you’re buying a house with more rooms you can ever live in.
Your money is your voting ticket — you can either spend it consciously or spend it directly for our planet’s detriment.
When you buy junk you don’t need, you’re increasing waste which then leads to pollution.
Most people fall into the trap of thinking their purchase doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Since everyone thinks that, here we are, harming our planet.
Cast your vote consciously and you never know who you end up inspiring on your quest for a better planet.
Live With Your Favorites Every Day
To me, minimalism never feels like a sacrifice. I can wear my favorite shirt every day and eat my favorite foods every day.
I no longer have to wait for special occasions to wear a single t-shirt that fits perfectly. I can buy ten of those and wear it every day.
Life becomes more enjoyable when you live with your favorites. Besides, it’s easier to throw the things you don’t like.
Living a Life of Purpose
Once you move beyond the delusion of physical possessions, you realize how little you need to live.
This realization is immediately followed by exploring unlimited possibilities. I mean, if you can shift to India and live on a $1000/month, and build the remote business you always wanted to build, why wouldn’t you do it?
Okay, I know it’s not possible for most of you. But treat it as a thought experiment.
New lifestyles are possible with the Internet. Many people have made the leap to earn their living online. It’s possible, it’s not a scam.
Having fewer needs and the ability to fit all your stuff in one suitcase suddenly makes your wildest dreams possible.
60 years ago, you could not travel the world and make money from your laptop. Now you can.
It’s About Addition, Not Subtraction
“The potential of minimalism lies in what you choose to pursue with your life in place of material possessions.” — Joshua Becker
It’s not the removal of the extraneous that sparks joy, it’s the addition of the essential.
Even though online influencers focus on decluttering, it’s not the goal of minimalism. Decluttering can only free up space.
What you fill that space with is your choice, and ultimately the only thing matters.
Add generosity. Add kindness. Add relationships. Add spirituality. Work on what matters to you to master your craft for those are the only thing that can bring you happiness.
There’s Much More
Minimalism is obviously far-reaching than the main points I mentioned above.
It is needed much more now than ever. People are desperately searching for a life of less stress, fewer distractions, more freedom, and finally, higher levels of happiness.
And finally, even though minimalism may not promise that life, it sure is a step in the right direction.
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