September 20, 2012 by Michael Vuke
I am a minimalist.
But what is minimalism? Minimalism is an art style, an architectural style, a form of music, a form of dress, a way of living, etc. It can be a lot of different things. However, in the context that I am using it, most people refer to it as a way of living with fewer possessions.
To me, minimalism is not only about having fewer physical possessions. It is a mindset—a way of life. I cut away excess, which often takes the form of possessions, in order to experience the things that really matter better. I seek out things that don’t clutter my room, mind, or body, and as I have cleaned out these things, I have started focusing better, feeling better, and living better.
Back in the spring I started on my minimalist journey; I got rid of a ton of stuff—probably over half of my wardrobe, and a bunch of random items that were just lying around. And here is the kicker: I hadn’t used any of these items in months (sometimes years).
Why should I keep something that I don’t use? I started clearing these possessions out, and interesting stuff started happening.
It has been easier to keep my room neat and/or organized. Less stuff = less clutter. (Now, my room currently is a disaster area, but it isn’t as bad as it would have been)
Even though I started minimalism just thinking of it as living with fewer possessions, it started to change the rest of my life. I’ve started paying more attention to how I spend my time.
I’ve started creating things again.
I’ve become more generous. When you realize that possessions mean jack-squat, then there really isn’t any reason to hang on to stuff. I would rather give someone money, time, or a possession than buy something for myself now.
I haven’t regretted switching lifestyles one second, and I would definitely recommend some form a minimalist lifestyle to everyone. Not so sure? Don’t want to commit to an extreme lifestyle of less? Consider this:
“How strong would you like your minimalism, sir?
Minimalism is like coffee. You can make it any way you want.
You can make it strong, and remove everything in your life except for only the essential. You can pare down to a few boxes or remove your bed or get rid of everything entirely. You can clear your mind of all thoughts unrelated to your focus.
You can make it weak, and remove only a little bit, just tweaking your life into different shapes and positive arrangements. You can consider a few items, move slowly, and try to find some peace in your mind. Tiny changes for a theoretically huge benefit.
Both of these approaches are valid. Just like there is middle ground, there is the highest and lowest setting. They are equal and perfectly acceptable. They all coexist.
At the core, minimalism is about less. How much less is up to you.”
Ultimately, I’d like to get where I can put all of my possessions into a car, and fit all my ‘vital’ possessions into one or two suitcases or backpacks. That suits my interests in life, and it fits the life that I would like to live. I don’t know what your life looks like, or what your life would be like in a perfect world.
That’s why I’m not telling you to live in a cardboard shack.
Find the excess in your life—the stuff just lying around that you never touch. The garage full of unpacked boxes from when you moved three years ago. The closet filled with novelty clothes that were trendy a year or two ago but look silly now or the clothes that you wore when you were a few sizes smaller (or bigger. Whichever). Once you find it, cut it. If you remove that stuff, it helps.
And if you do that, congratulations—you are now a half-caf white mocha frappachino coffee! It isn’t very strong at all, but there is a little bit of coffee in there, and that can make all the difference.
Are you a half-caf, regular, black, or espresso coffee (are you coffee at all?)
Which would you like to be?