My introduction to minimalism began a little over a year ago. I was house-sitting (and cat-sitting) for my sister, Melissa, who was off living life in New York City for a couple of weeks. And if there is any blessing to being home alone (with a cat) in someone else’s apartment on a Saturday night, it can be summed up in one word: Netflix.
If you haven’t already, WATCH Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things. WATCH IT NOW. Seriously, stop reading and go watch TV.
I posted about the film via @sheworksinthelibrary almost immediately as the credits started to roll, stating: “… motivational, inspiring, and exactly the template that could help change the world”. To this day, I stand by my review. And I’m confident the cat would agree. GO WATCH IT NOW.
In short, the documentary is a glimpse into the power of living deliberately with less. I stress the word deliberately here, because, when it comes to minimalism, it’s tempting to want to focus on the ‘less’ (aka minimal stuff, things, possessions etc). However, the key to minimalism (at least in my humble opinion) has nothing to do with stuff, and everything to do with choosing to live a deliberate life in its purest definition of the word. That is, consciously, intentionally, on purpose, in a careful and unhurried way.
“Love people. Use things: The opposite never works”
- The Minimalists
But, why? Why would you chose minimalism?
Some people do it for personal reasons — for example, unexpected life circumstances, like a health scare or loss of a loved one, lead them to place more value in people over possessions (as per the experience of Joshua from The Minimalists). Others have environmental and sustainability concerns (hello, who doesn’t agree we need to be kinder on Mother Earth!?). Some want to win the war against consumerist culture. And many simply find it practical to live clutter-free (a la KonMari method).
However, I can only assume, the majority have simply come to the realisation that more stuff does not equate to more happiness, and minimalism offers an alternate path in the pursuit of happiness.
“Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things — which actually aren’t things at all.” — The Minimalists
For me, in short, it resonates. The more I read and learn about notions within minimalism, the more I want to read and learn about, and, more significantly, LIVE as a minimalist.
But labelling myself as a ‘minimalist’ is risky. There are naysayers — people who question your motives, who think you’re a radical, or who cannot understand why you don’t do or have ‘normal’ things (some of my closest friends still cannot get past the fact I have made the choice not to own a TV!).
Fortunately Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (aka The Minimalists) have a whole list of alternative -isms for those people who may find minimalism too extreme. They include:
My personal favourites are Curationism (that’s my inner Librarian spirit coming through) and Enoughism (because there’s a special magic in knowing things will still work out even if you are lacking something!).
Not convinced? It’s ok. We get it. Just like cats are not for everyone (excluding my sister’s cat, who somehow turned me into a pet person during the course of viewing the Minimalism documentary!), it is equally important to state, minimalism is not for everyone.
I have previously written about the danger of defining life by what you are and dealing with labels.
“… all too often we think of ourselves in one dimension, and that as much as we can enjoy one thing, and it can be all consuming, we are more than the sum of our parts…”
- The Lady Edison
A few friends recently replied to a personal Instagram post I’d shared about minimalism with comments like “You go girl. You are brave”, “Not sure I could do it to that degree, but definitely taken some of it on board” and “We watched the documentary — got me thinking, thank you”.
Whilst the minimalist label may not stick to everyone, I believe there are many ways people can embrace minimalism. Whether you apply the notions of minimalism to your physical stuff, OR your use of technology, OR the way you manage your finances, OR your view of health, OR how you give to relationships, OR the path you follow to achieve your career passions, OR the way in which you value success, OR… the list goes on! — each path ultimately leads to the same place: a life with more meaning.
“And here’s my lightbulb moment: what does it matter the word as long as we are comfortable with the definition?” - — @sheworksinthelibrary
Right now I am enjoying minimalism in all its many flavours. I am more than comfortable with the dictionary definition of deliberate and I secretly love that minimalism provokes the status quo. I am curious about how I can make room for more by having less. And I am excited by the the opportunities to have a bit of fun with challenges like the #minsgame.
Minimalism helps me live with intention. I am increasingly conscious in every area of how I live my life, yet, simultaneously aware that choosing to be a minimalist (or at least aspiring to be!) is just one part of who I am now and the woman I want to become in the future. Who knew a Saturday night in (with a cat and Netflix) could be so life-changing!?