There is a quiet movement that goes against everything we've been taught - it's call the Minimalist Movement, or Minimalism for short. It is not a new concept, but the idea has begun to resonate with people and is slowly gaining popularity much to the ire of big and small business alike.
The idea seems to appeal to many people across different socio-economic backgrounds and is finding traction both online and in many mainstream concepts around the world. There is no absolute definition of minimalism and it is not about how many things you own, rather it is the concept of having less that owns you and your time.
For some people this can mean downsizing from a 5 bedroom home to a 3 bedroom home, or renting a room in a home rather than an entire apartment, it can also mean living out of a backpack while traveling the world. These are just a few examples of the different ways people connect to minimalism. In basic terms, there is a connection in the downsizing of responsibility as well as material items.
Defining minimalism is a personal journey and tends to shift over time. Although culling personal material possessions is where most people begin; some minimalist continue to simplify other aspects of their life such as finances, jobs, digital products, and even food and exercise.
Minimalism isn't a contest to see who can live with the least amount of things, instead it is a way to simplify your life and allow you more time and money to do things that matter instead of collect things of matter. To rid yourself of expenses that cause you to work harder and longer is to rid your life of stress allowing you to pursue things that bring happiness beyond the momentary high of buying needless goods.
In many western cultures the idea of freedom comes with the collection of money to pay for a collection of things, which will then apparently bring about fulfillment. These ideas are taught from an early age and have become part of our cultural identity as consumers. Minimalism maintains a core idea that the collection of things cannot bring fulfillment - instead it is the collection of experience. To have this experience one must have time, but if one spends all their time at work or in pursuit of money to get things; there is no time for experience.
Simplifying your life can seem daunting or it can seem trivial, and to some it can even seem impossible. The first step on the journey to minimalism is just that - a step. Begin with something easy like the pile of things you were going to give to the local charity shop or emptying the basket under the sink or even culling your wardrobe of those ugly sweaters that never fit right. Just start.
I have been on a minimalistic journey for the last 2 years. My journey began as a de-cluttering in preparation for a move but due to finances I found myself stuck in the same place. In hindsight this was a blessing allowing me to take stock of my possessions and get rid of things for which I no longer had use. Because I intended to move, I also cut my spending which helped me financially and keeos the clutter away.
When the clutter left my home I began to feel less stressed. What began as an effort to downsize for a move became a way to take control of my life and my finances. One thing led to another, first I let go, then I quit spending as much, and then I began to pay off bills. It's step by step and it's working for me. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm working on it and it's done wonders for my life.
My level of stress has significantly decreased allowing me to take control over my finances and plan for a future that I didn't think was possible. I work in a field where everything from weather to contract awards can control your employment. Layoffs are not uncommon, and neither is forced time off so having a cushion is important for me and for the first time I have one and it's still growing.
I'm not done, I'm not even close, and I've still got a lot of areas to deal with such as health, weight, and exercise. Minimalism has helped me reach several goals and I know it is the path to getting to those last few. I believe a simpler life is a better life, drop the drama and the misery and instead find experiences that make you happy.
Are you on a Minimalist Journey as well? Where are you in the prOcess?