If your self-worth and happiness is always dependent upon the next thing you’re going to buy or the next person you’re hoping to meet you’ll never be happy. Happiness and abundance is either always sad present in the here and now or they are nowhere because nothing else is real except this very fleeting moment right here. I remember those words of counseling coming to me as I was helplessly shopping online for some clothes, shoes and exotic foods I didn’t really need but there was no stopping me; I wanted to stop, I just couldn’t, I felt weak and pathetic about It, but I also felt like it’s a normal person problem hence a part of me felt validated by my lack of self-awareness and self-control.
The world we live in is full of lust, whether it’s towards a person or a thing, a certain lifestyle a job, a zip code; the truth is, we are so used to being told by others as to what should we want that we become a slave to our impulses since an early age and in most cases never come out of it alive. It’s a grave problem that is keeping us miserable, insatiable and far from living our best life. Even the ones that know better tend to not take a big step at the risk of being laughed at by their loved ones that was the case with me. It was in 2015 when I first came across the concept of Minimalism via YouTube, later I discovered that there are many Instagram accounts that are dedicated to promoting the cause as well as a Netflix movie on the minimalists. I could relate far more with them than the people I have been surrounded with. When I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I knew everything in my life was about to change and not for the better. I was scared because I realised that I come from a family of hoarders, and as I looked around my room all I saw were piles of clothes and books. I do know most people have it a lot worse but for me that was more than enough to suffocate the enthusiasm out of me.
I almost instantly made the decision to give it a fair try, but instead of throwing my extra items away I just stored them in boxes and decided to keep only the items that I really needed. I found myself wearing the same 5 clothes every week and they were all black. To be honest as soon as the extra stuff was put away I felt a relief, like a heavy baggage was lifted off my chest and I had time and space for important things I should’ve started doing a long time ago, but I was stuck in that hopeless cycle of desire and want to the temporary satisfaction of attainment and then new desires and wants. I’d never told a soul at the time that I’d thrown away/donated my expensive shoes and clothes that needed minor repairs, some of them were 10-12 years old and I hadn’t touched or even seen them for years so their absence didn’t feel too much. Along with tutoring myself on minimalism, I’d also started meditating more often as I had the space and clarity enough to do it, and for the first time I invested in some low maintenance indoor plants. Little did I know that I’d fall in love with the wide variety of them and it will be a lifelong love affair.
Even though the items were out of my sight they weren’t exactly out of my mind, so whenever itwas time to dress up a little special I knew which bag to open up to pull out which dress, however some of my leather bags did not take our breakup very well and fell apart literally on their own and changed colors in some cases, that part still saddens me to this day as each one of them have been a part of so many important memories and stories of my life, also they were expensive as they were meant to be.
Minimalism isn’t hard or too extreme like non-minimalists say, in fact it’s a whole different way of living and approaching life. It is spiritual, it’s healing, it’s therapeutic, it’s quality over quantity mentality on steroids, it’s choosing every moment and every decision to live an authentic and intentional life, and to me that sounds like something we all need more of in the world that’s running around blindly chasing things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like or even know! Modern culture has bought into the lie that the good life is found in accumulating things—in possessing as much as possible. They believe that more is better and have inadvertently subscribed to the idea that happiness can be purchased at a department store. But they are wrong. Embracing minimalism brings freedom from the all-consuming passion to possess. It steps off the treadmill of consumerism and dares to seek happiness elsewhere. It values relationships, experiences, and soul-care. It lets us see all that we already have and reminds us to be grateful. In doing so, we find a more abundant life.
We live in a world that idolises celebrities. They are photographed for magazines, interviewed on the radio, and recorded for television. Their lives are held up as the golden standard and are envied by many. People who live simple lives are not championed by the media in the same way. They don‘t fit into the consumerist culture that is promoted by corporations and politicians. Yet, they live a life that is attractive and inviting. While most people are chasing after success, glamour, and fame, minimalism calls out to us with a smaller, quieter, calmer voice. It invites us to slow down, consume less, but enjoy more. And when we meet someone living a simplified life, we often recognise that we have been chasing after the wrong things all along. It removes mundane activities that take away from spending time with our loved ones. Once we rid ourselves of the unnecessary, we’re able to decide what will define our lives.
Some travel the world full-time. Others will find themselves more involved in their families’ lives. Becoming a minimalist frees us to live a bigger life with a more passionate pursuit of our greatest purpose and goals. I’m still 3 big storage boxes away from calling myself an extreme or a real minimalist, however I have many reasons to keep walking down this path and I look forward to exploring more of life and less of what’s underneath the junk I don’t remember accumulating or even appreciating enough. I’d like to end this piece by sharing a quote the original minimalist: “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” - Socrates, 469 BCE.