Is less really more?

Whether it is decorating your home, buying a new wardrobe for the new season, or spring cleaning, the new buzzword is minimalism!

Minimalism started during the 60s and 70s as an art and visual cultural movement; promoting the idea that “less is more” and that unnecessary possessions need to go.  Today, however, you read and hear about many people “scaling down” (and that doesn’t mean that they only move into smaller spaces).  People are becoming more conscious that a life built on consumerism, materialism and “stuff,” is, in fact, not what real life is all about! 

More people are also becoming more aware of protecting our natural resources and environment, thus minimalism is about decluttering / spring cleaning your life – both physically and mentally.

It is a lifestyle where you get rid of objects, relationships and expenditure that don’t add value or meaning to your life anymore.  For example, instead of buying something because you like it or want it just to have it, you stop and ask yourself: do I really need it?  If you don’t need it, then you don’t buy it.  Simple?  No; easier said than done sometimes!!

Joseph Becker, author of “The More of Less: finding the life you want under everything you own,” says “Our money is only as valuable as what we choose to spend it on.”

The same applies for our emotions, our energy and our time.  Relationships are only valuable if they bring meaning into your life, lift you up and make you want to spend your time and energy with that person.

Another example of living this way can be found on Theminimalists.com-website and the Netflix documentary, Minimalism.  Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus were living the American dream: big houses filled with lots of stuff, high paid jobs, executive roles, big cars, expensive holidays, and so forth. 

However, none of these material stuff brought them real happiness.  They decided to make the change and are now travelling the world to tell people about it and to teach people how to make the changes.  There are 3 steps to follow:

  1. Declutter and make space for what you value:  look at your home.  How much time do you spend “reshuffling” things from one cupboard to the next?  When was the last time that you used something or wore something?

According to Joshua and Ryan physical clutter (the stuff in your home and/or office) can spread to your mental space.  Thus, the first step to sort this out would be to start with one room or one cupboard at a time and decide what is of value and purpose and what to get rid of.  As you sort out and declutter it’ll help you to start thinking more critically about decisions you make daily and, in turn, you’ll start to live more with intention.  If you are an emotional shopper, or buy things because you are lonely, get help.  Talk to a family member or friend that you trust and take the necessary steps to figure out how to change your behaviour and/or your life. 

  • Love people, use things:  In the modern, materialistic world, materialistic things have become, unfortunately, substitutes for deep, meaningful relationships and connections.  There are many people who love things more than they love people and, deep down, themselves.  The big question is:  is those Facebook-relationships real?  Are your relationships with work colleagues’ true friendships or are they actually just acquaintances?  Becoming minimalistic mean that you want relationships that add value to your life; you want to spend time and energy with somebody that has the same values as you, and in return you add value to their lives.  “Being chained by obligation to a relationship is disingenuous, a false loyalty birthed from pious placation,” says Joshua. 
  • Prioritise without the excuses:  Do you wish you had more money to save or invest?  Go through your bills at the end of the month and decide what do you need to buy / pay, what do you want / like to have but don’t need.  Slowly but surely start to cut out the “wants” on your list; then progress and cut out the “likes” as well.  In the end, you will retrain yourself to only buy things like shoes, clothes, kitchenware, that you truly need.  This will leave you with extra cash at the end of each month and soon you can save more or pay off your debt faster.  If extra time is what you need, then do the same.

In essence minimalism is not just about spring cleaning or decluttering your home and office space.  It is a practical way of living and entails cleaning out your life on a financial, material, spiritual and emotional level.  The main purpose is to live your life with intention, purpose and meaning.  It is a way of living in balance with nature and your inner self.  By decluttering everything in your life, you not only feel lighter, but you have more me-time, more time to spend with those you love, more time to do what you want to in life (travel, read, sleep).

Minimalism does not require a person / family to get rid of a love / passion (for example collecting art), if it adds value to your life.  Instead, think of it as “scaling down,” moving into a smaller space and having to take only that which you can fit into it with you. 

There are various channels on YouTube where people move into Tiny Homes; some move into an RV or van because they want to travel the world.  These people are good examples of minimalism.

At the end of the day, whether you call it minimalism, decluttering or spring cleaning, it all boils down to living in harmony and balance with both spirit and nature. It is a way of life and what better example to set for your children, friends, family, colleagues, and so forth, than to show them that living a life where happiness, self-confidence, self-worth and belonging is not linked to or found in material possessions and money, but in what we choose to value and to live an authentic life; one that is lived responsibly (not just to each other, but also to nature and oneself) and with integrity.  As the saying goes: when you are born, you come into this world with nothing; when you die, you leave this world with nothing!  Give it a try!

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