It’s said that the two best days in a yacht owners life is the day he buys it and the day he sells it.
We live in a world today that is ideologically invested in consumerism.
Everyone knows the American dream archetype. It’s no secret that we see this lifestyle intrinsically wrapped amongst feelings of safety and shelter in our modern Western culture.
I know that I grew up in a family with an average household, 2 cars, 2 kids and a dog, so a quick reality-check here. I am a middle-class white male. Make no mistakes, I am lucky enough to have owned enough ‘stuff’ that I know what it feels like to deal with clutter and the trials of over consumption.
This lifestyle is great. I’m never going to say it’s not right because, in reality, it is what gives families and households comfort and financial stability as well as social aspirations.
Every day I now face a challenge. I have to justify owning every item in my possession by considering whether I would be willing to carry it on my back. This little question is in the back of my mind every time I needed to buy something new and became my first glimpse into a world of minimalism and freedom.
What is Minimalism?
Take a look around your room or office for a moment, imagine it empty except for what you really need to achieve your goals as well as the things that are instrumental to making you happy. Imagine your wardrobe with less than 6 sets of clothing, two pairs of shoes and just enough pairs of underwear and socks to get you through a week. Imagine being able to take this and walk out of the house with everything you own, jump on a plane to anywhere in the world and set up a new life with just a collection of boxes and items.
Before continuing through this post, take a moment to consider a challenge. This little game has been floating around the internet for a while, and it’s a great way to give you an insight as to how you can benefit from minimising your possessions. Consider spending 1 month, 30 days, getting rid of 1 item a day. Whether it is a t-shirt you never wear or a collection of papers stuffed away in a drawer somewhere. You can give something to a friend, or donate it to charity. If you manage to do this or you want to try, leave a comment down the bottom. I guarantee it will change the way you look at your ‘things’.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that this is not really ‘Minimalism’ in itself. This is applying, or using, Minimalism as a technique to give yourself some freedom from your possessions. It’s only one small way to apply minimalism in your life to give yourself freedom.
Minimalism in many forms.
Imagine downsizing your house to one with a smaller mortgage. Imagine selling your car and buying a bicycle with no recurring payments. How would it feel, knowing that if you ever wanted to completely re-imagine yourself and your life by moving to Brazil, you could make that decision in a day without having to worry about debts or stuff. This is an extreme example but it shows you what’s possible by minimising certain aspects of your life.
Minimalism is a tool to give you freedom. It’s about finding ways to have the things you want in your life, without you being tied down by them. It’s also about recognising what you really need in your life and cutting free the fat of everything else that’s just weighing you down.
You can minimise your holiday and make as little plans as possible. Instead of booking your plane, bus and train tickets before you’ve even left on your vacation, try just deciding to go where you want, when you want and how you want on a whim.
We live in a world where we prioritise money over time. We choose to have more money to buy more things to enjoy with the less time we have.
But the benefits are a little bit more complicated than that.
By choosing to have less, we instantly manage to reduce our impact on the planet.
Can you make do with the small fridge you bought second-hand online? You’re instantly helping the planet by not using near as much power as you would with a bigger fridge. You’re also not financially fuelling the company that uses the world’s resources to make and transport that often unnecessary upgrade.
By downsizing your home, you’re reducing the space you need to heat, cool and fill with things. You’re using less wood and metal to build the space. At the same time, you’re almost always going to pay less for it, which means your going to either have more money to spend on the things you want to do, or more time because you didn’t need to earn that money in the first place.
It’s about finding the balance.
No one would be ever expected to commit to a new lifestyle of having almost nothing in an instant. The real key here is to start implementing minimalism into your life when you’re comfortable.
It becomes addictive and I’ve managed to burn through more dopamine getting rid of the things I don’t use than buy new things that I won’t use.
Would you rather have more money to spend on things like a bigger house, a fancier car or fancy short holiday? Or would you rather have less stress and have a quaint house with an average car, more time with the kids or a longer and free-er holiday?