At first, adopting a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t seem like a tall task. After all, you are, for the most part, simply going to clean up and remove all the unnecessary possessions that are “holding you down”. While not entirely wrong, if this is the mindset you have when approaching minimalism than you’re not thinking about it hard enough. Adopting a minimalist lifestyle means going beyond the logistics and even beyond the concept. You have to start at its core – your soul – and you have to ask yourself, “Why should I adopt a minimalist lifestyle?”
Reasons to adopt (or not adopt) a minimalist lifestyle
The main purpose of minimalism, as advocated by prominent minimalists, is to focus more on what matters in your life by taking out what doesn’t matter. In short, adopting the minimalist lifestyle means decluttering both figuratively and literally.
Minimalism helps you find what really matters
A few years ago, I finally got the motivation to clean my room and threw out hundreds of items from old clothes to appliances and found a lost photograph of me and my departed grandmother. How I missed her. This may be a gross oversimplification, but in that moment I realized I had way too many things and remembered a meaningful moment in my life.
By flushing out all the possessions you’ve acquired over time, you’ll focus on them less and have more time for sentiment. This also helps from a financial perspective as the money you save can be used for more important non-material investments such as taking trips with your significant other or your family.
Being a minimalist, in theory, is the practice of liberating yourself from your consumerist habits. Growing up in North America, we (along with Western Europe) consume over 60 per cent of the world’s resources and have the largest carbon footprint. We practice greed and we’re damn good at it. And many practice minimalism as a reaction and challenge to this.
But if you’re thinking minimalism will suddenly eliminate all the problems overconsumption has given your life, you’re approaching it wrong. If practicing a minimalist lifestyle is akin to going cold turkey then you’re likely to “relapse” and go right back to your old habits.
Minimalism is for your own personal enlightenment
Minimalism is a tool, not a goal and should be for your own development. While feeling like you are helping the planet by reducing your carbon footprint isn’t wrong, you should be doing it for you. Entering into this lifestyle will challenge your relationships, values and beliefs.
Nothing defines “self-awakening” more than realizing the way you’ve lived your life has been, for the most part, a product of consumerism. We may not recognize it, but our materials form a big part of our identity. Our lifestyle is heavily contingent on technology and when we change our attitude towards these possessions, something intrinsic in us changes as well.
Minimalism may not be practical for you
One of the most popular minimalists, Henry David Thoreau, was well-off and privileged, and his primary method of living focused on himself. Things change entirely if you’re a mother of three in a place where options are more limited. Minimalism doesn’t just affect you, it affects those close to you. Going through with a minimalist lifestyle may not just be impractical but detrimental to your family’s development.
The alternative is to practice minimalism in small amounts – to continue living your life, but adapt minimalist practices. Cutting out unnecessary expenses, but still acquiring necessary goods. This balanced approach is a happy medium between maintaining your current lifestyle and preparing yourself to one day adapt a minimalist lifestyle.