"Kathryn Blowing Bubbles"
by April Moore-Harris on Flickr
I spend a fair amount of time on this blog pointing out differences between minimalists and the majority of people in our consumerist society. Sometimes the easiest way to understand something new is to contrast it with something familiar.
But minimalists and materialists have a lot in common. We're generally seeking the same things:
Happiness. Fulfillment. Freedom. A good life.
It's just that our philosophies and methods for getting there are different.
Where a minimalist finds comfort and contentment in the simplicity, clarity, and order of her home, finances, schedule, relationships, mind, and spirit, a materialist finds comfort in the quantity and perceived desirability of her possessions, job, contacts, and life events.
And that's not inherently bad, though I think it's limiting. Fulfillment in that way requires a certain amount of wealth, a constant search for more and better, and quite a bit of waste. It also tends to become a competition, so the possibility of dissatisfaction and unhappiness is actually fairly high. And if you fuel that competition with debt, you forfeit your freedom. The money you earn now is going to pay for things you bought in the past.
Minimalists know that fulfillment doesn't have to be about who has the most stuff, or even the most experiences. Someone has said that "Wealth is the car you didn't buy." When you opt out of the materialist competition, you're left with more money, more time, and more energy. Free from the influence of others, you decide for yourself what is truly valuable and essential.
I think that for most people, a shift in mindset could make them happier than winning the lottery. And no one needs luck to think differently, just inspiration and encouragement. That's what I try to offer here.
Contentment is found not by pursuing more, but by realizing how much you already have.
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