Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Voluntary Simplicity


Photo by Brian Mann on Unsplash


This is my 100th post!






A common misconception about minimalism is that if you have or earn very little you must be a minimalist.  In fact, as you've progressed in your minimalist journey, some well-meaning acquaintances may have asked if you were having financial difficulties, since that's the only reason they can imagine that you would choose to own and buy less.

But minimalism isn't about trying to get by with as little as possible (though you might explore those limits as an interesting experiment).  It's not about being cheap, and it's not meant to glorify or romanticize real poverty.

Study after study shows that the rich people of the world (and if we have more than we need, that definitely includes us) are not as happy as one might expect, given their level of comfort and opportunity.

A life of materialism can create feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.  It consumes huge quantities of natural resources, creates pollution, and makes us less likely to share with those who really are in need.  It turns out that too much stuff, too much busyness, too much distraction, too much food, and too much debt is a ruinous combination.

Minimalism means that you own what feels right for you, what you need and what you enjoy, without having excess that makes your life more complicated than you would like.  If you regularly have trouble finding the things you need because of clutter, if your schedule is so packed you're constantly impatient and on edge, if you have no funds for an emergency or a good cause, or if you're deep in debt but just can't stop shopping, then you're not living a life that meets your needs.  In that situation, you're probably not as happy as you could be.

In contrast, a minimalist removes the things that weigh her down, or keep her too busy, or take energy and money away from things she'd rather be doing.  The choice is deliberate, purposeful, intentional.  It's voluntary simplicity.

You can start small.  Remove clutter from your work area, and notice that you can focus more easily and streamline your productivity, resulting in less stress.  Remove clutter from your kitchen, and notice that it's easier to prepare meals and even eat more healthfully.  Remove clutter from your calendar, and notice that you're less rushed while enjoying your chosen activities more.  The results can ripple outward from wherever you start.

Minimalism has plenty of luxuries, they're just different luxuries from the ones most people choose.

Minimalism puts the emphasis on things that money can't buy.  It doesn't require you to live in a 300-square-foot tiny house with a ten-item wardrobe.  Minimalism's only guideline is LESS:  less clutter, less debt, less busyness, and less stress.  You decide what level of LESS will allow you to more effectively enjoy the people, activities, and things that bring value to your life.





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