What does it mean to be a minimalist? Well, there really is no right answer to that question. Minimalism is a shape shifter. It’s taking on so many different forms and meanings as it is applied to different people and situations. For some, the application of this lifestyle is the aesthetically calming arrangement of white furniture, in a white room, with little to no decoration. For others it’s the shift of living in a tiny home prior to the expulsion of 95% of all their worldly possessions. All of these people, though, have one thing in common along their journey to simple living, and that is the purpose of removing excess from their lives in order to make room for full attention on the important things.
One thing I can tell you for sure is that if you are looking for something in minimalism, you will find it. There’s no way to argue that the act of cleansing one’s mind and living situation from unnecessary things is a truly rejuvenating thing to do. The act of narrowing your life down to the basics makes room for clarity and purpose in your life.
To all of you impatient little beings out there, I’m sorry, but, there is no overnight secret to transitioning into minimalism. Of my own experience, starting with the capsule wardrobe about 3 years ago, I have slowly started to find new ways to minimize, and as of recently, I have found ways to connect minimalism to not only bettering myself, but the environment around me. It’s not an easy one either. My journey into simple living was difficult in the way where I didn’t want to let go of my possessions, but was also difficult as I started to have realizations about the severity of my past habits. As I began to really purge, I shed light onto the true problems in my own life. It also caused me a lot of frustration to look back at all of these useless things I had accumulated in my life.
In order to help those interested in this lifestyle, I have formulated 3 guidelines that I find imperative to making a smooth(er) transition…
- Don’t set expectations. Minimalism for you is completely different than minimalism for the guy next door.
Throughout my own exploration into the simple lifestyle, I had a hard time accepting the fact that there is no right way to do minimalism. I was dead set on having the white room with white furniture, a black and white wardrobe… etc. Come to realize that, for me, minimalism was never going to be like that. Further, I have current habits that are not minimalist. I like to get my nails done as it enables me to fully focus on my life instead of focusing on the gnawing urge inside of me to bite them. I like to go to coffee shops, like on a daily basis, as it enables me to get work done without being distracted by the comfort of my bed. Never believe that minimalism for you should resemble someone else’s purpose within this lifestyle.
- Be aware that everything comes from somewhere.
I believe that an important thing in minimalism, especially before making a purchase, is to think of the impact you have on the environment. There is nothing more minimal than the incentive for lessening your impact on the environment, and other humans of the world. In the making of a cotton shirt, for example, you have to think about where the cotton comes from, how it was farmed, and how the shirt was manufactured each step of the way. Do you really want to contribute to soil degradation caused by chemically farmed cotton? Do you really want to contribute to shitty conditions and shitty wages provided by fast fashion corporations to workers in developing countries? This is the kind of critical thinking that is imperative to not only save the planet and create equality worldwide, but to make you a true minimal living being in this world. Stepping out of your own life, for even a second, to acknowledge the bigger picture can be a really big way to make the world a better place.
- Don’t lose sight of the important things in your life.
What I mean is, in your pursuit to living the simplest life you can, don’t sacrifice the things you love. If you have a really amazing collection of teapots that holds a special place in your heart, or if you have a lot of craft supplies because you like to scrapbook and make bracelets, that’s okay. For me, photography has been a struggle. It’s something that really brings joy in my life, and I have always questioned whether or not my hobby was actually minimalist. And maybe in a literal way it’s not, but in my life, it makes part of my own true definition of minimal living which includes doing the things I truly love to do. What I do encourage each and every one of you to do, though, is to sort through your hobby oriented possessions to make it easy to see what you have, and give you the ability to use everything to its full potential.
Given these 3 guidelines, I hope that all of you may find the urge to simplify, and find true purpose in your own lives. In a world where the meaning of life is dominated by advertisements and people trying to make money off of your unhappiness, people who don’t care that their road to success could leave people in poverty, and the environment in shambles, people who make it look like they have the world’s best interest in mind, but, in reality, don’t, it is absolutely imperative that you find your way of life outside of the need for material possessions.