Minimalism is an amazing lifestyle that can help you live a more meaningful life, but still, many people don’t have a good understanding of it. Consequently, they don’t want to try it because they think of blank white walls, rooms without any stuff, no colors, etc. In today’s post, I will say what minimalism is not, to help you get a clearer picture of what it is.
What is asceticism, you wonder? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, asceticism is the practice of strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline. Asceticism is rigorous abstention from self-indulgence.
It is important not to confuse this with minimalism. Ascetics give up material goods and sensual pleasure due to the belief that a rigorous lifestyle is more expedient in the attainment of their religious, spiritual, and philosophical goals.
Sometimes minimalism and asceticism have some blurred lines, however, the two should be distinguished. Minimalism doesn’t mean you need to be frugal, always make tradeoffs or not indulge in the things you enjoy.
Minimalists deliberately choose to get rid of anything that doesn’t add value to their life. If you like reading, and get an immense value from books, by all means, have dozens of books. If you like shoes and wear different pair every day, then have them. But be truthful to yourself if something is really a need or just a desire disguised as a need.
Wait, you want to tell me I don’t need to get rid of all my stuff? NO! You can keep everything you really enjoy, and what adds value to your life, but getting rid of everything else is a good place to start. It’s true that a big part of minimalism involves the removal of stuff, but the main focus shouldn’t be on what you’re getting rid of. The main focus should be on what you gain by letting go of the things that don’t bring value to your life.
The things you own, big and small, important and non-important, aren’t just stuff. They represent your history, habits, ideas, aspirations, and values. That’s why, sometimes, it will be so hard to get rid of something as simple as an old T-shirt from high school. To you, it’s not just a T-shirt. It’s much more. It represents one important stage in your life full of memories. Maybe you had your first kiss while wearing it, or you got drunk for the first time. Whatever it is, it will be important for a certain reason, and therefore harder to remove.
Yes, while practicing minimalism you will get rid of lots of stuff – lots of material objects – but not the memories and feelings those objects had. They were never in your things to begin with; they were always within you.
Minimalism is not about owning as little as possible or doing as little as possible. It’s about owning enough and doing exactly what you want. If you want to own 10 bags because you really like them and enjoy using them often, then by all means have it. But if your closet is full of clothes you don’t wear, then that’s a completely different story. Get rid of most clothes and make room for 10 beautiful bags.
You don’t need to own 100 or 50 or 25 things to be a minimalist. No. It’s not a competition who has the least. It’s about having only what is important to you. And if that means having 10 bags, so be it. What one person might find too much, is enough for you.
P.S.: Let me tell you a secret.
Yes, less is more. You’ve heard that many times. And many times is true, but that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of everything. You can only subtract the bad stuff – stuff that drains your energy, stuff that clutter your home, people and obligations that don’t hold any value to you, etc. Minimalism is not only about having LESS, it is about making room for MORE of what matters. More freedom, more happiness, more time, more money, and a more meaningful life.
Minimalism is not some magical land or destination you will reach once you get rid of everything, and your life is finally simple. Minimalism is all that remains after you let go of your attachments to material things. It’s not the end point, it’s just a tool you need to use constantly to reach the next horizon. Keep chipping away all the excess until you get to your own version of minimalism. The benefits of minimalism are achieved on the way to a simpler life. And with every little or big thing you remove, you’re taking one step forward.
I don’t drink a lot of coffee, so I don’t own a coffee maker. I don’t watch TV, so I don’t own a TV anymore. I don’t play video games, so I don’t own a game console. My home doesn’t have many things that are considered ‘normal’ or ‘necessary’. But minimalism is not one size fits all approach, and it’s not about deprivation. It’s about intentionally choosing the things you value. If you are an avid coffee drinker, have a coffee maker in your house. If you’re a fan of movies, have a TV, and if you enjoy playing video games, then a game console is a must.
Yes, certain people like the aesthetic of minimalism design, often characterized by all-white rooms with little furniture or décor, but that doesn’t mean this is the only way minimalism can look. In fact, minimalism doesn’t have its own look. You can use different decorations, colors, furniture, etc. in your home. You can make it personal and unique to you – a warm and cozy space to relax – not the space to stress you. Everyone’s version of minimalism will look different. Your job is to create the one that works best for you.
Now, when you know what minimalism is not, you can embrace this wonderful lifestyle easier, and experience a full array of benefits it brings. Minimalism works for everyone, whether you’re rich or poor, white or black, single or married, with or without kids. It doesn’t care where you live or what you do for work. Minimalism is simple and is right for you.
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