Many see minimalism as a fad, but this is not the case! Minimalism is not about buying specific items that make one appear simple. It is not about dressing a certain way to fit the profile. Minimalism is a lifestyle that could easily be compared to things such as healthy eating or exercising. It is how one lives and not what one lives with.
The Everyday Minimalist (a minimalist blogger) received a letter containing the following comments: “Trendy nonsense. This is just an attempt to make money by selling a lifestyle…psychological ‘guilt-free’ living.” I agree that companies are going to far lengths to sell a product. For many, minimalism is turning into a business opportunity. For instance, Cliff Kuang discusses how Apple has convinced buyers to “follow the gospel of minimalism” by purchasing their products. Many bloggers are trying to sell their own tips on how to live a true minimalist lifestyle; their books are most frequently found on Amazon. One blogger has even created a page “How to Dress Like a Minimalist” insisting on “toning down” to neutral colors and further pushing brands such as Calvin Klein.
Charles Broadway explains, “true minimalists embraced the lifestyle before it was trendy and will continue with it when the good times roll again.” He also adds, “when you cut the crap out of your life, you are left with the quality. You are left with what matters.” In all of my research, no other quote has come close to how I feel about a minimal lifestyle. I am not jumping onto the bandwagon. Instead, I am learning how to live a life based on quality.
I am on the third week of minimizing my belongings, and I am still easily finding items that I don’t need. Over the past few days I have tossed the following items:
- 4 T-Shirts
- 10 Magazines
- 3 Pairs of Shorts
- 4 Jackets
- 1 Book
- 1 Video Game
Since beginning the experiment, I am noticing a pattern in the items that I choose to hold on to. I tend to keep clothing that I may never wear again, because it still fits. I hold on to school supplies and books, because I feel I may find use for the items. I am finding it much easier to simply toss the excessive contents. It leaves more room in my house and makes finding items less timely.
What’s the best way to fight materialism? Find its source, and destroy it. “The source?” one may ask. Shopping.
Avoid the shops and mall altogether. Visiting stores makes it feel okay to buy! The Nest explains how visiting shops can trigger the want for more, even when window shopping is all one can afford: “Avoid triggers. Stay away from stores—except for when you actually need something […] Stop teasing yourself, and find a new hobby.”
It’s okay to splurge a little from time to time, but frequently visiting the mall and spending money can turn into a real problem! CNN further explains how people purchase things that they don’t need and fall into the trap of impulsive shopping.
Just a Little Less suggests considering the following tips before making a purchase no matter how “on sale” something may be.
- Waiting a little longer.
- Accepting yourself as being a worthy person with or without that new item.
- Realising that you do not deserve the stresses and misery that shopping can bring: the debt, guilt and clutter.
- Making a list of things you need rather than want.
- Finding alternative ways of spending your time that nourish your health and relationships.
- Being creative with your exisiting wardrobe – trying different combinations of garments.
- Being more creative in your own kitchen rather than trying that new restaurant.
Also, consider reading the following
I am on my second week of my minimalism challenge, and it feels great! Here is a list of the majority of items that I have given to the local Goodwill in the past week:
- 3 T-Shirts
- 4 Tank Tops
- 3 Scarves
- 4 Belts
- 12 Shoelaces
- 4 Thermal Shirts
- 10 CD-R Cases
- 10 Folders
- 8 Other various office supplies
There were also a few other odds and ends, but I am trying to emphasize how many items I found unnecessary. It seems a bit ridiculous how I hold on to things that are not being used, but it is a relief to finally get rid of the accumulation.
Materialism is a cancer that is suppressing our surroundings while we allow large companies to benefit. Not only is materialism dwindling the money in our bank accounts, it seems to be eating at our level of happiness and mother Earth.
Many of us insist on competing with each other to impress our peers in order to gain an immense number of friends. In doing so, we are unable to notice the negative effects of materialism. Materialists are acting as parasites to the Earth and people they are competing with. Many are too busy focusing on their next purchase and do not notice what materialism really costs:
- human labor
- fossil fuels
- increased pollution
- harmful working conditions
- personal relationships
This means that our constant desire for new things is killing the Earth.
Personally, I enjoy my friends for who they are not what they wear or drive. I am also thankful for the natural resources that the Earth provides and the beauty in which it holds. I am no longer allowing materialism to interfere with my relationships with friends and peers. I am also going to focus more on the pleasure the Earth brings to me instead of the items made from its resources. So, instead of splurging on a Michael Kors handbag or a Pandora bracelet, I save my money for trips to the beach and dinner dates with friends. Experiences make us happier than possessions do while also allowing pleasure from the world around us.
The first week of my experiment wasn’t too challenging. I sorted through my closet and was able to find quite a load of items that I found unnecessary. I ridded myself of the following items:
- 7 pairs of shoes
- 13 shirts/sweaters
- 2 pairs of pants
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 dress
- 2 purses
- 1 wallet
- 8 accessories (hats, belts & scarves)
Who seriously needs all of these excess items collecting dust? Even though most of them were high-end brands, I didn’t need any of the clutter! Keeping this in mind will definitely ease my way into a simpler life. As the weeks continue, I will pursue following a minimal lifestyle and update a compiled record of my progress.
Sure, minimalism and simplifying may seem impossible. I assure you there is no right or wrong way to achieve your goal. There are many paths that lead to success, but there are a few fundamental rules to live by.
- Stop comparing to others
- Make a list, and stick to it
- Remove clutter
- Be grateful
By dismissing comparisons, you will no longer need to keep up with the Joneses, which is too much of a game anyways. Prioritizing allows you to see what is most important to you, and making the list allows you to constantly remember these priorities. The most important rule, however, is being grateful for what you do own. So what if you cannot afford all of the things you want. Neither can many of your friends. Simplifying is the first step to cutting the cord to materialism.
By living by these basic rules, you can aim your lifestyle towards minimalism. There are many other methods as well. You must keep an open mind while following the guidelines and know the difference between needing and wanting an item. Personally, I am considering either the Bare Essential Method or 21 Day Process.
“The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” –Elise Boulding
Society makes consumers believe that they can only increase their self worth by purchasing more things. Television commercials and constant advertisements are constantly telling us that we need their product in order to live a perfect life. Why must we give in to their trickery? That Michael Kors bag does not make you more successful. Owning an Audi does not make one any smarter. These items simply make one appear as if he or she is experiencing the best standard of living. Real success is not measured in material wealth!
I went away to college for my freshman year– almost three hours from home. I knew I had a small dorm room which I had to share. When I began packing for the commute, I realized that I could not possibly take all of my belongings. I had too much stuff. I tried to sort through my items and only take what was necessary, but it seemed impossible. I managed the first two weeks with only the necessities and a few items of attachment. However, every weekend that I visited home I would bring a few more items from home back to my dorm room. After the first semester, I realized that I had a problem. Why did I need so much stuff? The second semester I started bringing things back home during my visits. My room became more organized, and I was able to focus more on my studies and less on the clutter forming amongst the room.
I have since moved back home for college. Last year, I realized the same problem occurring again. I have grown attached to items. It is a must to decrease the amount of belongings. The clutter is distracting to say the least. I have decided on living a more minimal lifestyle. I have slowly been decreasing the number of things I own and items I purchase. I have even given a few things to the local Goodwill.
So far, I have noticed a few improvements in my life.
- less clutter and more organization
- more money to spend/save
- less worries about items lost
- less to clean
- an increase in personal freedom
Jessica, minimalist student, explains in her page Minimal Student, “You don’t have to give up everything, it’s about reducing to what you really need. You can still dress fashionably without wasting money on brands, watch TV that is actually worth watching and drive a car when you need to.” She also discusses her own personal reasons for minimalism and ways to achieve a simpler lifestyle.
A few other blogs to consider are Uberless, Almost Bohemian, and Seeking to Minimalize. Starting today, for every unnecessary item that I purchase, I will get rid of two things I don’t need.