Nowadays we hear the word “minimalism” very often, but historically this word was a term referring to an art movement what began after World War II and actually meant geometric abstraction. Today minimalism also means voluntary desire to live with limited number of possessions. When minimalism as a lifestyle just appeared, it was like a trend, a big movement that people where invited to join. But is minimalism only sort of trend? And is it even possible to practise minimalism in this type of world where we intend to spend more and more? And how could it affect the quality of our lives?
In these days the world is built on material values. The fact how easily things are available, make us buy more and more. Actually because of the low costs we can afford to buy a lot. But why we buy so many things? Trends, fashion, own needs? Research on buying habits shows that a lot of us buys in order to gain some piece of happiness. It’s like, we live in some kind of illusion that if we will get specific things we will be happy. Subconsciously we hope that we will achieve the same happiness as this girl on the internet or that model on a tv commercial. But after we purchase that one specific thing, we come to the conclusion that it hasn’t provide us with all the happiness we hoped for. So after a while we try again buying another thing. And it goes on and on to infinity.
So do the things we own really can make us happy?
There have been several studies about minimalism what turned out pretty interesting. According to these studies general clause is that money can’t buy happiness and less possessions can really make you feel better. The idea is that having less things make you focus on your priorities, such us health (including mental health), relationship, family, job, etc. But it doesn’t work by just throwing all your belongings away. The point is, you have to be a minimalist in your belief and you have to feel comfortable with this idea. As research shows, the people who have the minimalist mindset are the happiest ones, because material values don’t mean that much for them as for other people. They are focused on the main things in their lives and they are not concerned what kind of material stuff they have and what they don’t. Now, don’t get me wrong! It doesn’t mean you have to throw everything away, sell the house and go to live in the mountains. Nothing like that! But it is worth to consider that not giving so much importance to possessions can really help you to improve the quality of your life.
And here are some examples how.
Less possessions to take care of. It means less to clean and less to do. Have you ever been anxious because you have work to do, children to take care of, but house is a mess? Just stuff everywhere, dirty dishes and unfolded laundry. One big, messy chaos. You have a work to do, but the chaos reminds of itself, and at that point you try to evaluate what will you do first, job or fixing the clutter. Well, I believe people with minimalism don’t have such a problems. Or if they do have, they can fix it in a short time. If there is not a lot of things around, the mess won’t be so big. No mess, more time to focus on the things that really matters.
A lot of free space.
Can you imagine how much free space you had, if you would live with less belongings in your house? When sorting through things, the hardest part is to say goodbye to those that create sentimental attachment but have no use any longer. For example, there was a time I couldn’t throw away some paper letters written with my friends during high school, even though I never looked at them after. Or it was hard for me to give away pair of shoes, which I have never worn because I always waited for the right moment until they became old-fashioned. I could live without these things and actually I didn’t need them, and I should have free my space long time ago, but for unknown reason I chose not to. I really think that things are just things and at some point they just have to go. Feelings and memories are the ones we need to collect. I still remember my high school friends and how they made me feel, so I don’t need a material reminder for keeping those memories in my mind.
Free mind. I remember conversation with my partner when he asked, “Why do you need so many clothes and shoes?” I remember saying, “Well, you know, for women there are different types of shoes and bags and clothes, and we must to dress according with the type of event we are attending”. After a while I still was thinking about this. Was it really like I said? Or it was just my excuse to have a a lot of clothes in my closet so I can live with thought that I have a lot to wear.
I remember another episode when I was at my moms place. She showed all her new bags and looked very happy dreaming how she will wear them in the following spring. It had a weird impact on me, because after that I came home, opened my wardrobe and throw half of the clothes away. Somehow my moms new bags made the urge in me to throw a lot of things away and start over with something much less. I like to look beautiful, I follow the tendencies and I know which colour is the trend of the season, but after changing my life and leaving my lawyer job, I had this feeling that there are too many useless things in my life. Back then, in my lawyer times, I bought clothes without meaning and with so many different colours and prints, At the end in my wardrobe was clothes that were hard to match with each other. So at that day I just decided to throw away all my formal dresses, skirts and jackets, change my dressing habits to the something small and compact like capsule wardrobe. From now on I open my wardrobe, look at my few things and I never again have the thought that I have nothing to wear. I have few pieces that can be easily match with each other and my frustration about dressing is long gone.
Happiness in moments not in possessions.
Giving less importance to material values, can make you appreciate the beauty of your life and specific moments. There is a saying “I'd rather cry in a car than on a tram”, which means the pain is easier to bear if you are wealthy. Well, I disagree, because if your are unhappy and your life doesn’t satisfy you, then the new car won’t help to make it better. It will help to gain the appreciation of others and self-confidence, but it won’t fill you with true happiness. That’s why material things should not be the driving force of our lives, but only as a pleasant addition, which we do not look at as a possible source of happiness.
In my life I have come to conclusion that more doesn’t mean better and sometimes having less is all we need. Sometimes less means more space, more money, more happiness, more freedom. Win-win.
I think minimalism is more about questioning yourself, what really makes me happy? It forces you not to hide behind all these shopping moments and possessions, instead it pushes you to confront yourself and value the priorities. It makes you think what do you really want to achieve, by having specific thing. Is it your own happiness or, for example, your social status? And if it is the social status, will it bring you the happiness?
Minimalism doesn’t suits for everyone and maybe someone by purchasing a lot of staffs really feels fulfilled. But if you feel lost, empty or even disorientated, than minimalism could be half of the answer of your well-being. And it really costs nothing. At least you can try, because there is always possibility to go back.
Sanda, creator of Mimi Mei