I am a Minimalist
A statement often met with strange looks or people asking how many items do you own? Do I have a family? Or do I even work? Minimalism is viewed by many as a strange fad some sort of hipster, new age, let’s go and find myself type of lifestyle, this may be true for many it is not in my view what minimalism is.
What is Minimalism?
For me, it is the pursuit of freedom, found by removing the things that are unnecessary and no longer add value to your life. Through this, you can create the space to experience things that do add value and bring you closer to your goals.
This definition should be used to encompass all things people, possessions, activities, actions and habits.
Deciding what is Unnecessary?
Perhaps the hardest stage for anyone wanting to embrace minimalism as it requires answering difficult questions on a regular basis. The answers to the questions might change over time and if answered honestly will at point create awkward and uncomfortable situations both internally and externally.
- Looking forward what is the life that I truly want?
- What are the external things that facilitate that life?
- What needs to have happened for me to have achieved this?
- What changes do I need to create for myself?
- Is (insert Item, Habit, Person, Action) essential or supportive of this future?
What makes some of these questions hard to answer is that we tend to not see in the initial phase the future we truly want but some almost acceptable future. We push this future back because of our attachment to people, habits, self-doubts and other factors.
These questions must regularly be asked and with some degree of effort to push past the uncomfortable feelings. With every cycle of questioning the future very often becomes more evident, more defined and more ambitious than the last time and emotionally you become freer from the attachments that hold you where you are.
The Process of Reduction
When you begin to answer question 1, you will end up with lots of different and abstract answers, and the problem is that many people stay with the general response such as I want to be happy.
We all want to be happy, but you need to divide happines into more tangible outcomes and ask yourself ‘if in five years time I am happy what has happened?’
1. I no longer worry about debt
2. I have the time required to cook most of my meals which I enjoy
The list can go on and on, but initially, I would recommend selecting three or four things to use as you facilitate going through the process of freeing up your life.
Let’s pick the example of wanting to cook more of your meals and enjoy the process of preparing food. Now what is interesting is this may mean that you may have to buy or gain access to something you have or become criteria for selecting other things.
In this example, if cooking is essential you would require a kitchen in the location that you spent most of your time and possibly in the places you travel. You would also need to make sure you had the right permanent pots, pans and other equipment for cooking.
You should be able to create a list of the items that would be needed and make sure that everything on that list is indeed required.
One of the many right to left questions that you have to answer, what needs to change in your environment? For example do you need a different kitchen that is indeed designed to facilitate cooking?
Going through this stage often creates a list of projects.
The internal version of the question three looking at the habits and skills that you have and what changes need to be made within yourself to allow the situation to exist.
In some cases the most simple or the most challenging question to answer; let’s keep with the example of cooking over the years you have picked up many different kitchen utensils some will be duplicates and others will have emotional connections.
The point when everything is laid out in front of you, and then looked at, if you have five of a specific item do you need five? If you only need one select it and discard the rest as they are taking up space in your kitchen and your life.
Go through this process for every item and by the end; you should be able to explain why you have it, there is no correct number of items only that the things left have a use.
Not a reason to have multiples or irrelevant items.
My Parting Thoughts
Over time by repeating the questions you will reduce the amount of unnecessary things in your life and will become more focused.