Before I take a moment to dive into my knowledge on things, I want to give a huge thanks to Fumio Sasaki, an author who not only changed my perspective, but helped me to make subtle changes and discover where real awareness lies. As a bookworm, the insight of others is always mental food for me. As we proceed, I will be sharing my perception and his on minimalism. From my personal journey, what I’ve seen, been through, and what studies say.
Let’s proceed, shall we?
1. Minimalism Varies In Definition
Most people see minimalism as getting rid of mostly everything and having nothing. For example, it’s mostly visualized as an empty room, neutral colored, no wall decor, rug, or even clothes. But this is not always the case for every person. Most of us would boldly confess, “I could never do such a thing, it’s impossible.” But the ideal purpose of minimalism is to keep the things that are essential to your life and toss away what lacks importance. We often wish upon a star that we’ll use something “one day”only for it to rot away because “that day” never comes.
But do not misunderstand me, what one person see’s as worthy may not be worthy to another person. The crucial idea here is knowing what’s important to you and what’s not. So even if you want to clean out all 20 of your t-shirts from your closet, another person may only choose to get rid of 5 pairs. There’s no shame in that, if they’re happy. In other aspects, you may be someone who loves photography, so you hold onto all the equipment you’re passionate about while another person could easily toss those things away. We know what’s wanted and what’s needed. With each person it will vary.
2. Maximalism Takes Up Time & Energy
With a little extra thought, it didn’t take me long to realize that most of my time was not devoted to the things I love to do, but instead on all the possessions I had to take care of. And how they took up my day, time, and energy. By the end of the day, I was always ready to crash. I remember at some point having a large possesion of clothes. I can’t tell you how many times I would just stuff clothes in the container (that barely fit) without even thinking to fold them. And when it was time to clean my closet, I did it every 2-3 months because of how much clothes I had and how long it took. That was about 5 hours or more depending on the effort I made. I never fully cleaned the way I desired because I was too tired to operate. And like everyone else, I had this mentality where if I neatly organized my excessive amount of stuff, it wouldn’t look so cluttered. I was wrong. And not to mention, that once I took the urge to get rid of stuff, I just replenished everything all over again.
You see, the cycle never stops until we learn to reject the things holding us back from enjoying the true path of life. Realistically, it’s hard to handle everything so how can any human being want to have a lot of things? Something’s going to waste, whether you realize it or not. It’s true when they say the phrase, “More money, more problems.” The same thing applies to objects we continue to multiply. More stress and less peace. More headaches and less breaks. Is it really worth it? Coming from my pov, absolutely not.
3. All Materialistic Possessions Get Boring
I think we all can say we’ve been in the same boat where we’ve bought something, and eventually started to slowly lose interest in it. Materialistic possessions tend to be like this everytime. And nothing is going to change our minds about it. Which means that no matter how many times we convince ourselves that we’ll “feel” or “look” better if we get something new, that strong sense of enthusiasm will die out quickly. When we genuinely sit down and take the time to think about it, we’re basically chasing empty, temporary, pleasures that will only have us feeling high for a moment. Sure you’ll receive compliments on that brand new dress you got and I’m sure you might love it for a few months, but after the third or fifth wear, you’re tempted to purchase something new all over again. It’s an endless cycle of pointless spending and wasted time. So why obtain more if we’re never fully satisfied right? Well, it doesn’t stop there, and it probably never will unless you take the initiative yourself.
The worst part is when we no longer own our possessions, but instead they own us. Many studies have shown that only a tiny percentage of our happiness comes from things, and that most of it is significantly contributed to our experiences. This might be because internally we do feel true satisfaction. We hold onto fond memories with others and the moments we built, these things tend to last a whole lot longer and are planted in our brains for a reason. Not just for the short haul, but for the long run.
We always believe that the more we accumulate, the better our lives will be. And that’s how the world continues to tell it. The first idea always is to be wealthy but as shocking as it may seem, rich people get bored too. Don’t let their status of many possessions fool you. They may have a lot things, but imagine how many more things they’ll keep buying just to be shooting blanks. Their in the same trap as us, seeking for excitement that’ll never fully be conquered.
Industries and the media, too, will use marketing strategies to persuade people into buying new things. Apple for example, restricts updates for older iPhone models, almost forcefully making people want to upgrade, feeling like they need the next big thing to be cool. Everytime I blink there’s a new form of technology. A newer, advanced iPhone model, a bigger and better tv, an upgraded Xbox or PS with “exclusive” graphics. It’s all tempting, I must admit and I could see why we always strive for more, but there’s really no outcome in the end. Why not shake hands with fulfilling experiences and dump the artificial joy?
3. Less is Slimmer
This one shocked me the most. When reading the book “Goodbye, Things” by Fumio Sasaki, who is also a minimalist. He mentioned that he lost 22 pounds. He also added that a lot of de-cluttering books spoke about having less = weight lost. In some instances it was big changes and little changes. I’ve even browsed through a couple of videos and blogs of minimalists, who were also in shape. Perhaps this was because they were less distracted and had the time to focus on the temples of their body? Minimalism is not always having a house with little stuff, it most likely takes an effect on your body too. Perhaps these minimalists were more aware of what they ate, how to maintain a proper balance, and stay in sync with what’s crucial to their health.
With proper analysis this makes sense, since you have more energy to give to other stuff.
4. Gratitude Comes When You Have Nothing
Call me crazy but it’s those times where we struggle the most, fall our hardest, and have no resources, to feel the most content. In those moments where we have everything together, is not where gratitude forms. Most likely we all have something tucked away that we’re taking for granted, and we’ve probably completely forgot about it’s existence. Meanwhile with little to nothing, at least you can learn to appreciate what you have, even if it’s not a lot.
This is something we miss because we’re so bombarded with having it all. Sometimes we’re too cocky with our possessions and forget that they can be gone at any given moment.
Minimalists happen to be more grateful and content because they’ve learned to operate with the little things before the big things. They’ve also stopped stemming their happiness from possessions, and learned to be in the present moment. The real world at their forefront.
Additional Point: The Art of Less Disputes
Another one that surprised me. When you’re living with someone, whether that be a roommate, partner, or family members, when you guys chime in on minimalism together, there’s less disputes on things. For example, the less clothes you have, the less you’ll have to fold. Which means you and your partner won’t fight constantly over who’s not cleaning what because it won’t feel like such a hassle. The same thing goes for washing the dishes. Washing five would be better over twenty any day. And it won’t feel like such a burden after all.
Not only that, there is more time to deeply connect and spend time with others, when you’re not distracting yourself with everything little thing you have. Now I’m not saying go on a digital detox unless you’re up for it, but imagine not having a tv. Television is mostly used to entertain the eyes of everyone. When we can’t find something to do, we resort to television, when we can’t find something to talk about, we resort to television. But imagine if you invited guests over. There’s no tv, just a place to lounge and talk about life. I mean, that’s not so bad, now is it? Imagine how much more you could interact with someone in comparison to having all this entertainment in your house as a distraction.
Guests should come for you, not for what you have. So never feel like you need to keep stuff for the sake of approval (If you ever feel like you do want to cut off entertainment). Who cares if it gets a little boring, spark something up. Don’t resort to the easy route by limiting social interaction. This helps us to be more creative too with our own abilities.