Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
My interest in Minimalism is not a recent phenomenon. I was drawn to it well before the pandemic unfolded. This new impulsion on Minimalism or keeping only the things which spark joy within you is driving the world crazy.
‘Living with less’ can have a positive influence on our focus, finances, and the state of mind psychologists say.
But does it mean living in an empty house with few essential items to survive? Does it mean wearing the same outfit all the time? The goal of Minimalism is to keep items that have meaning and purpose, precisely.
‘living in less’ had not always appealed to me. I have always been a gatherer of memories. I still have my diaries of pre-teen days.
My mind flies back to our old maternal house in Mawanella. Usually, we were not allowed into my father’s office room- the exciting treasure trove, except few occasions. The table was custom made according to his own design. It had a larger drawer on one side and a set of smaller drawers to the right. He was a multipotentialite. He had his sketching instruments used for drawing house plans, in one drawer.
In another drawer, around 400 badges collected in various phases of his scouting career along with knick-knacks handcrafted by him. A bulk assortment of postcards and letters from his friends throughout the years would fill another drawer. Everything was arranged elegantly.
On the other hand, I have only seen him wear a few outfits and one footwear at a time for most of his life. He led a very simple and uncomplicated way of life. I understand that my father chose to focus on what he felt important and passionate.
Minimalism is the process of classifying what is essential in your life and eliminating the rest.
The concept of Minimalism has a long history.
Minimal Art emerged as a movement in the 1950s and continued through the Sixties and Seventies. It is a term used to describe paintings and sculpture that present simplicity in content and form.
Minimalism aims to allow the viewer to experience the work more passionately without the interferences of composition, theme etc. Interestingly, the many cultures in the world such as ancient Buddhism and Sufism possess the elements of Minimalism. The core of this value is parting with the possessions to gain spiritual focus and wisdom. There are some extreme examples of sages and mystics living in the forests and the mountaintops with few or no belongings.
With the industrial revolution and introduction of machines, mass production occurred, which resulted in surpluses—the excess required to be consumed. Establishments created needs. Needs created more needs. Most of the things we consume today weren’t needs at first.
Just think about knives. How many knives do we have in our kitchens?
All-purpose knife, Paring knife. Boning knife, Bread knife, Butterknife. Carving knife. Cleaver, and Mincing knife. It is true that each knife is unique and does a specific job, but mostly we end up using the all-purpose knife for most of our needs.
We purchase new objects expecting to get a little pleasure and excitement. And we get it for a while, and we want to replace it with no time. Is not this a cycle of addiction?
In reality, more stuff won’t bring happiness; on the contrary, they can cause more stress and psychological burden according to research.
Some see Minimalism as getting rid of things and being scarce. But I would love to think Minimalism as an attitude, a mindset which creates the space for your soul’s call.
I can’t entirely agree with the idea of extreme Minimalism such as counting the number of objects you can keep etc. This sketch might work for a few but certainly not for people like me. We can not get rid of the things we value and has meaning.
Creating the room to fill up our lives with meaning instead of stuff is an important point. When decluttering your life, happiness will flow effortlessly, because you are pulled towards the things which have a bearing. By consciously choosing to live with less, we pursue a more meaningful life. However, an area often overlooked is our virtual life. Our digital presence is crammed with distractions from apps, emails, social media, and notifications.
Just imagine the number of our digital photos, images and videos we send and receive each day. In our childhood days, cameras were a luxury. On occasional trips or events, we used to take rolls of film with just 36 exposures each. Does anyone remember? I wonder how did we even do that? Today, our desktops, laptops, tablets and mobiles are jammed with random apps, photos and documents.
We must stop for a while and make time for a digital declutter. Getting rid of tools, routines, accounts, apps, and services that are not needed will make you feel lighter and freer.
The anxiety, stress and fear caused by dealing with harmful and toxic people can make you exhausted. It can also make you cluttered in mind and ill.
Some people can take you for granted at times. Your time, energy, and your thoughts deserve respect. You can care for everyone’s wellbeing quietly, but you can’t actively engage with everyone. From afar, you can wish them good and respect their choices but not in a way that’s personal nor vulnerable. We cannot always avoid certain people in our lives; we can, however, avoid feeling trapped by them.
The definition you give Minimalism is all yours. We must always make sure that the concept resonates with our heart before blindly following it.
Like Rumi says ‘Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.’