Is this the secret lifestyle you have been seeking?
Let’s face it we live in an increasing world of materialism and consumerism.
We are bombarded on a daily basis with messages and adverts enticing us to buy the next best this or that.
Even as I sit here writing this I have ads popping up offering products that I might have had a cursory glance at on the internet, trying to encourage me to click through and buy.
Google has got a lot to answer for!
In our efforts to boost our self-esteem and feelings of self-worth we turn to retail therapy and materialistic gain in exchange for more debt and exuberant mortgages.
The bigger the house or car the better we feel. Or do we?
This human search through value through our possessions is still one of the main causes of high levels of personal debt.
The world of minimalism is seen as an antidote to this world.
There are certain misunderstandings though around minimalism.
If you ask a person on the street what minimalism is the most common response is that to discard all your personal possessions and live on virtually nothing.
Sure there are changes to be made in the maybe the quantity of material possessions but they are missing the point.
A minimalist is purely someone who values themselves more than the material possessions they might have.
Being a minimalist does not equal poverty but rather access to a more abundant lifestyle.
What a minimalist lifestyle is
So we have established that minimalism is not just about possessions and the lack of.
The philosophy behind a minimalist lifestyle will allow, is to give you the feeling of more time and more freedom.
According to Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, probably two of the most well-known advocates of a minimalistic lifestyle, minimalism gives you;
Freedom from fear
Freedom from worry
Freedom from depression
Freedom from the trappings of consumerism
They give a useful definition of a minimalist lifestyle;
” Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
So if you are looking for a minimalist lifestyle what could that look like on a practical level?
One of the first things is to get rid of the things you don’t use or need.
Let’s face it on a practical level we all own loads of stuff that we don’t really need or use.
How many times have you opened your wardrobe or cupboard and it there full of clothes you have not worn for a decade or old out of date electrical items.
Don’t be fooled though, it is not easy giving up stuff, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and part with what were once prized possessions.
You need to introduce an uncluttered simple environment in which to live.
A minimalist lifestyle is to live a life without the obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much.
Why become a minimalist
So why would you become a minimalist in the first place and are you the right sort of person to embrace it.
Let’s consider a few questions;
Do you like cleaning?
If you like clean, tidy rooms but hate to clean, minimalism might be for you.
The easiest way to cut down your cleaning time is to own less stuff.
Are you in debt?
Debt can be a real burden for most of us. It weighs us down and creates stress and depression.
Get a handle on it first and foremost by buying less stuff. Be disciplined and stop spending on unnecessary consumerist items.
Put the money you save towards pairing down your debt.
You have a stressful life?
The less physical clutter you have in your life the less stress you will have.
Minimalism will remove the clutter from your lives that causes distractions that cause you stress.
Are there things you value more than material possessions?
Minimalism seeks to promote the things in life that we value and removes any distractions that might mitigate that value.
It allows lives to be centred around the things that matter not the desire for the latest consumer item.
Do you care about your environment?
Minimalism by requiring less resource means less waste.
You will produce less waste and thus cleaner living.
Psychological benefits of minimalism
So what of the psychological benefits of minimalism, will it improve my psyche and overall we being?
Many people make the mistake to think that material possessions are a panecea for happiness.
In fact it can be the opposite.
Recent psychological research has found that there is a relationship between materialism and depression.
Psychological research seems to suggest that materialism is both socially destructive and self-destructive.
It has been associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.
It is also the case that as someone becomes more materialistic their well being ( good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose) deteriorates
How many stories have you read about mega lottery winners that end up ‘unhappy’ or ‘depressed’ despite the enormity of their wealth.
The same can be said for famous celebrities and sports personalities.
It seems ‘the materialist’ is not the happiest person on the planet.
As a minimalist you would advocate tackling materialism. Excess consumption is a hunger that would never be fulfilled, we just want more.
‘No matter how much we buy it is never enough’
So will adopting the minimalist lifestyle lead to a happier life?
Martin Seligman who is the father of ‘positive psychology’ point sot three types of happy lives.
According to Seligman ultimate happiness is achieved when we derive most of our joy from the ‘meaning of life’
Happiness researcher Hans Zegars showed that people who declutter and strived to live a more simple life experienced a ‘meaningful life’ more than others.