So you want to be a minimalist? Well then, you’d better get rid of everything you own, stop attending any social events and basically move into a cave with the two items of clothing you have left. Wrong.
There is no ideal minimalist to aspire to—owning or doing the least does not make you the most minimal of all. There is no set goal or end point to achieve, only a mindset and a feeling.
We can live a minimal lifestyle and still fill it with things. The point is, that all those things add significant value to our lives. The important word here being OUR. Living a simpler life is individualistic and forces us to be a little selfish—which isn’t a bad thing. What adds value to one’s life may not add value to another’s.
I love fashion and I appreciate good design. Timeless quality clothes that are made to last are my weakness. I also love horse riding, traveling and quality skincare—none of which come cheap.
The Solution of Prioritising
When I made the decision to design a simpler life for myself, obviously these things came into question. All of them could be viewed as luxuries and there’s no doubt they cost me time and money.
The solution was not to eliminate these passions from my life, but to prioritize them and eliminate something of less value to make room. All these things could be deemed luxury unnecessary items by a lot of people, inclined to judge my minimalist standards. That doesn’t matter because the point is to identify what really matters to us. Yes, there are ways to minimize these luxuries but you don’t have to get rid of them completely.
Travel is an experience I never regret spending time or money on. I travel more now because I have more time and money to do so. How? Because I stopped spending time and money on all the things I did, but never added any value.
Drinking alcohol is one example. I haven’t had a drink in over a year and don’t expect that to change. I realized I actually hated it and only drank because I thought I should. I say “no” to a lot so I can say “yes” to what I deem worthy.
Quality clothes that don’t date, high end skincare, travel and horses will never be eliminated from my life because I feel they add a lot of value to it—unless one day I feel that they don’t. In this case, it’s time to reassess and that’s OK because minimalism is an ethos applicable to every aspect of life and in doing so will remove the meaninglessness from it. We are left with only the meaningful.
The Secret to Having More
We don’t have to live without to be a minimalist. The beauty of minimalism or having a simpler lifestyle is that we live with more of what makes us truly happy. Imagine what you love doing the most. Now imagine how much more time you’d have to do that if you stopped doing all the stuff you hate, but do anyway.
Deprivation is not the goal, happiness is. What makes us happy is so individual there can be no ideal—just a feeling to aim for. That feeling of joy, contentment and freedom.
The perfect formula for minimalism cannot exist. People are too complex and our tastes and interests differ. The question should be “does that really make you happy?” If the answer is “yes” it stays, if “no” then it goes. It is this simple.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a luxury item like an expensive haircut or even a luxury holiday, if you feel it is absolutely necessary, you can afford it, and it adds real value to your life then I say don’t you dare let it go. Instead, consider giving up everything else that doesn’t make you feel this way so you can obtain it.
I don’t champion people to get rid of everything they own and make themselves miserable, I champion them to take the time to stop, look around and look a little deeper to really evaluate what they choose to make up their lives with. This is what I did and from my experience, it works.
Why Living Without Isn’t Always The Answer
Giving up everything, including what makes me happy and moving into the aforementioned cave, would only cause misery and that doesn’t appeal to me.
I’ve taken the time to really think about what it is that makes me happy and if I’ve been unsure, I’ve tried to live without something as a way to test myself. The results were interesting. Dry shampoo and hair straighteners soon found their way back into my bedroom drawers. Make up on the other hand, most of that can go—I only own 8 items of make up, including lip balm.
Whilst I will spend a fair amount of money on certain things such as travel, you can be sure that I am not doing that to impress anyone else or because I think I should. There’s plenty that I’m keeping. Some of which, others may think makes me less of a minimalist and that’s fine because everyone is entitled to an opinion but never the less, I’ll be doing things my own way.
So, what are you keeping? What couldn’t you live without?
This post was recently published on No Sidebar – one of my favourite websites, all about designing a simpler life for ourselves. If you enjoy my posts I think you’d really enjoy this website.