Living the minimalist lifestyle takes a different mindset. It is a journey that I am still new on. Turns out, living minimally takes a lot of clarity on life. It affects every area of life too. For me the journey started because I felt like my life was overly cluttered and I wanted freedom. Physical freedom from the clutter of material things, and mental freedom from all the oughts. I was being torn in too many directions.
As I said, I am still new on this journey. Part of this journey is cleaning out and getting rid of existing possessions and the other part is in being more selective in what you buy. Every study shows that provided you have your needs met, people with less material goods are happier. I can also see this journey producing a few other benefits.
For example, clarity of life could help me become more effective in my life purpose. And being more selective in what I buy could help with my financial freedom. And hopefully, questioning what really matters to me, will make me more charitable and fun to be around.
So how do I filter my life from the minimalist lens? Here are a few questions I find myself asking whether I am cleaning out a closet, am out shopping, or even when I am making decisions on which projects to take on. Truth is, minimalist living is more about freeing yourself than it is about sacrificing. Of course these are just a few questions that work for me. You can come up with some that are more relevant to you.
1. Is this something that will help me live out my purpose in life? This requires knowing yourself and your purpose. And this question definitely applies to decisions on the types of projects you take on.
2. Do I really need this, or is it a momentary need? If it’s a momentary need, is it absolutely needed in this moment? And if so, can I borrow it from a friend? Is buying this tool investing in my dreams, or is it buying into my “ought-tos”?
3. Will it simplify or complicate my life? Even if I had the money to buy a house with a swimming pool now, I wouldn’t do it. Why? Because I know myself well enough to know that I would rarely ever use it. And it would just be something I have to clean, or schedule maintenance for. So my pleasure from it would be minimal, but the cost on my state-of-mind would be extravagant.
4. Is it one of my life-design pleasures? The dream life is about simple pleasures. I could take coffee shops out of my budget and save some money. But coffee shops is who I am. I love meeting people. I love the chats I have with strangers. I love the ambience for reading books. It is one of those pleasures I go to work to be able to afford. It motivates me more than driving a new car would. It is living my dream in the now.
Minimalism for you will look different than it does for me. When I talk about minimalism, I am talking about the idea of envisioning your best life, and then determining what you are doing, buying and spending your mental and financial resources on.
Don’t short change your dream. Get crystal clear on it, and then get brutal in evaluating whether what you are doing is absolutely essential in moving you towards that best life.
Of course, the concept of minimalism is not new to me. Growing up Mennonite, one of the basic tenants of faith is living simply. Mostly though it wasn’t practised in our more modern communities. The Amish speak more of simple living than we did, however, simple living was far from being simple. When religion gets involved in “simple living” it often seems to get more complicated than ever.
If simple living means you have to order a bonnet from a very specific store in another country because nothing locally will fit your local church ideals, than simple living turns complicated really fast. And because of that, I was somewhat slow to embrace it. I had resistance to it. I found it impracticle. It wasn’t until I realised that my idea of simplicity needed a radical redefining that it started making so much practical sense to me.
Hence the start of this journey into minimalism. Perhaps that is also why minimalist living sounds more attractive to me than simple living. Minimalism is not about saving money, though it certainly can, it is about defining what really matters to you. It’s not about not enjoying luxuries, rather, it is about knowing yourself enough to make the luxuries you do indulge in count. And it is about focusing yourself, and eliminating distractions in order to achieve your best life.
Your best life is a life where your purpose, motivations, beliefs and values all live together harmony. I am excited to see where this mental do-over will take me.