Minimalism shouldn’t be something to aspire for. It should be our default way of being.
Only, it’s not.
Our default way of being is the hoarder. It’s probably an evolutionary instinct to hang on to stuff. Anything you have may turn out to be a valuable asset at some point, while the same cannot be said about stuff you don’t have.
What evolution didn’t teach us though is that sometimes having stuff ends up costing more (financially or mentally), than the price we’d have to pay if we didn’t own the thing when the need to use it arose.
That’s because evolution and our prehistoric brains didn’t have the time to catch up with the changes that occurred to our lifestyles in the past few centuries.
We have access to pretty much anything even if we don’t own it.
I say that minimalism should not be something to aspire for, because this aspiration, which easily turns into obsession, doesn’t seem healthy to me. I mean there are people, who are obsessed with collecting stuff (hoarders), and there are others, who are obsessed with getting rid of stuff (minimalists). Why would one be better than the other? They are both obsessed with stuff.
While travelling, minimalism quickly became my norm. It allowed me great freedom and peace of mind. So what has changed since I got my own place?
That’s all the stuff I own, apart from a bicycle and a sofa. It’s half of what I used to own before I went travelling. On my return home, I realized I didn’t need half of the remaining half. Thus my new apartment has very little clutter in it, which gives me a sense of space that I enjoy very much (although I’m aware of the price I pay for it).
But that’s not the best part.
The best part is I’ve gotten better at saying no to the things that don’t matter, or not as much. I still have plenty of room for improvement, but today I’m better at telling the essential from the nonessential, be it commitments, habits, or people. I’ve learned that keeping many doors open often ends up costing more than closing some of them.
But it’s so hard to let go of an opportunity or to announce your own brainchild dead. And it’s so easy to keep throwing good money after bad just to avoid having to face failure, a confrontation or just change in general.
What it all comes down to is focus and action.
What sets true minimalists apart – in my definition – beyond their ability to see things as they are is their courage to act. We all seem to know what we should change about our lives, but few of us actually make it happen. I call those few true minimalists even if they have a cupboard full of junk hidden in the basement.