Minimalism. What does that actually mean? More and more frequently, one reads in headlines and in social media that renounce has been as hip as never before, that a lot less is more and that minimalism brings more time, money and calmness.
On the internet, one finds following definitions of „minimalism“:
When the Boundaries Between „Necessity“ and „Desire“ Become Blurred
Certainly you are familiar with this situation: You’re going to a supermarket to buy two or maybe three things that you have noted down before on a buying list. Though, shortly after you entered the supermarket, a bazillion things come into your mind that you might need. Or at least that’s what you persuade yourself. When you stand at the checkout point, there is everything in your shopping cart – except for that what you really need. You feel overwhelmed and stressed, but you persuade yourself that it’s all right. The next time, you’ll just buy less.
These are typical everyday moments where the boundaries between „I really need something“ and „I feel like buying something“ become blurred.
In a buying frenzy, it’s easy to lose control. We buy a new sweater which looks, except for some details, exactly the same as our old one and persuade ourselves that we’ll put some money back next month or will work overtime. We get rid of some bills, but the bad conscience stays. While our wardrobe is bursting at the seams, our purse is yawningly empty. And we know that our purchased luck is not long-lasting. It doesn’t feel all right as well.
Will Rogers once said:
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”
Unwillingly we admit it, but there’s somewhere a spark of truth in that. Do we really have as much clothes only because we find them comfortable and only wear them for ourselves? Would we also wear these clothes at home and exchange them against our sweatpants? Would we get ourselves up every morning if we were all alone in the world? Would our apartment be really equipped so fancy if we hadn’t discovered anytime pictures in glossy magazines which have inspired us unconsciously and stimulated desires within ourselves?
I don’t believe so.
The Promotional- and Marketing-Sector as Well as the Increasing Idealized Online Construction of Identities Arouse Artificial Needs
„Advertising is dangerous. It has overtaken our dreams.“
– Frederic Beigbeder
We are exposed to a daily information overload and overstimulation that push our true necessities into the background. The increasing aggressive promotional- and marketing sector has an often underestimated influence on our subconsciousness which leads not only to an idealization of our personal concept of life but also arouse before unknown needs within ourselves.
If we’ve been yearlong opponents of drainpipe jeans, this changes abruptly with mediated trends of the fashion industry. If we’ve never gotten the idea to combine sneakers with a dress, they nowadays belong to our everyday life as the morning walk to the toilet.
As soon as we’ve seen trends often enough or read about them, we are convinced to need them. We are so easy to manipulate, so easy to see through. How fast our dreams natural needs fade into obscurity.
Also, through the regular use of the internet, a distortion of our true needs and our self-concept are taking place. The constant interplay between self-perception and that of others, between life idealism and reality often leads to dissatisfaction and the feeling that we always miss something. Suddenly, all the things we could be proud of, are not enough anymore. Too often, we’ve compared ourselves to others who are actually feeling the same way as we do.
A Minimalist Lifestyle Means Above All to Consume Less and to Live More Consciously
I believe there are no exact rules for a minimalist lifestyle since everyone should be able to decide for themselves which road of life they would like to pursue. Yet, minimalists are in agreement with one thing:
A minimalist lifestyle can help us finding back to our own moral concepts and helps us to recognize what makes us really happy. How we can manage that?
By questioning first of all our life circumstances and habits. By asking ourselves, what we want to achieve in life and how we can be more satisfied with ourselves. By reflecting on what we can relinquish.
We can’t only waive redundant consumer goods, but also the excessive use of the internet – among other things also social media channels or news service such as Whatsapp. But we can also reduce the time we spend in front of the television. In all honesty: How many hours do you spend daily in front of screens?
For many people, the answer will be: Way too much.
Modern Technologies simplify our lives in many areas, but at the same time, they’re distracting us from reality. How often would we have gone outside if we hadn’t sat so long in front of the laptop or television? A few days without modern technologies can be very pleasant. We start to live more consciously and realize after a while, how much stress vanishes from us.
5 Reasons Why a Minimalist Lifestyle Helps Us to Live More Consciously and to Find Ourselves
1. We Gain More Valuable Time
„Hedonists live from the time that others don’t have.“
– Michael Douglas
The desire to own things which, we actually don’t need for our basic needs, means simultaneously that we have to work more. If we lower our material needs, we could work in a job that does not take us full time. We could have more time in the evening after work, before we fall exhausted into bed. We could have more time to live and would not postpone all of our dreams to our life-bucket-list because work always interferes.
What is the use to have a shitload of money with 65, when the rest of our lifetime has been wasted on our work that perhaps didn’t even make us happy? When we actually didn’t even have the time to think about what we really want because we’ve been always too busy.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have more time for ourselves, although we are working? Some Quality time to pursue our hobbies and to satisfy our immaterial needs. More time to find out what makes us really happy and to find this happiness eventually. Certainly, it’s another matter if we pursue a career that fulfills us and is a lot of fun. Nevertheless, there are probably enough people who earn good money in a job, but haven’t found their vocation – and still live day by day for their work.
2. We are more relaxed and stress-free
Abundance causes unnecessary stress and overextension, while we lose sight of the bare essentials. In the supermarket, for example, we feel overwhelmed by the immense range of goods. Perhaps, we also own countless clothes and spend too much time in the morning to decide which outfit to wear. But also the permanent accessibility and countless courses of action discomforts us.
In order to counteract the complexity of the modern world, a minimalist lifestyle can help us to reduce stress and to be more relaxed in everyday life. We put our focus on the essential things and therefore save a lot time and nerves. Less property means likewise less fear of loss, tidying up less, lower expenses and less work.
Also Nietzsche knew:
„Who owns less, becomes less obsessive.“
If we live a minimalist lifestyle, we start to buy things more consciously, separate out in all areas of life and live autonomous. We try too often to meet too many requirements. Not only in our professional lives, but also in our private lives. Therefore, we should make us clear that what makes us happy and what not. Whether we meet an appointment or not. To become conscious about what people are good for us and what people are not.
Have you ever tried to limit your use of modern technologies and not being accessible all along?
Always staring at our smartphones only to check if a certain person has written us or the feeling that we must directly answer to a message causes stress. Especially the use of messengers like Whatsapp leads to expectations. „Why hasn’t the person XY answered me yet, although he/she was online?!“ For my part, I don’t want to be accessible the whole time – and above all, I don’t want people having expectations of me that are yet so ridiculous.
3. We become less financially dependent
Have you ever thought about how much money you would save if you dealt more consciously with your finances each month? I have the quirk for example to always buy some food or drinks whenever I’m out – even if I’ve extra already packed in some food or drinks. If I had my compulsion better under control, I would save at least 50 to 80€ per month… and that would be between 600 and 960€ in a year. Maybe you are familiar with that. ;)
If you have ever encumbered with debts, you certainly how what a terrible feeling it is, to be dependent on some credit or bank institutions. Financial dependency encumbers very much and causes a lot of stress.
In order not to come into this financial dependency, there’s only one thing that helps: to spend less money.
An easy advice that leads to higher savings and simultaneously to financial independence. When the chips are down, you will have any time your financial reserves. Or maybe you can spend your money to some useful investments – e.g., those that are pushing you forward and gives you a good feeling in the long-term.
4. We become aware of what makes us really happy
When asking people what they expect from life, the answers tend often to be „success“. But what does success mean? Many people associate success with a career and wealth in order to fulfill their own desires. To these belong material desires (e.g. a huge home, expensive cars) and immaterial desires (e.g. traveling, living more unconcerned).
If the main focus on material needs, I’m asking myself whether material things can make us really happy or if there’s more behind that. For example, what’s behind the intention to drive an expensive car? Is it really about the fun factor or do I want to gain more social recognition?
We can question more often our intentions and analyse them. We can ask ourselves, what makes us really happy: The property itself or is it about far more personal?
Materiel goods distract us from self-reflection, although self-reflection is very important to find out our personal meaning of „happiness“. Nevertheless, because we’re scared to deal with our sorrows and weaknesses, we rather buy our ilusionary happiness which only lasts a few days.
Reducing our expenses and concentrating on our true needs, helps us to find ourselves and to be less distracted.
5. We have more money for non-material things
What do I mean with exactly by „non-material things“? Non-material things are for example activities such as traveling, join activities with friends (e.g. theme parks, wellness days, bar evenings) or also the support of charitable organizations through donations.
Those are expenses that bring us lovely memories which can make us really happy. Expenses, we can benefit from because we are able to gain new experiences and improve ourselves further. Or which give us a good feeling because we make a positive contribution to our world.
For me, such expenses are far more valuable than to spend my money into material goods. Through traveling, I’ve experienced for example unforgettable memories which I could have never bought through material goods.
Conclusion: A Minimalist Lifestyle Leads to a More Conscious Lifestyle and Focusses Our Attention On The Essential. We Get To Know Us Better.
„It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.“
– Marianne Williamson
In hectic everyday life we often lose sight of the small, but beautiful things.The permanent information overload and overstimulation causes stress and sometimes leaves us no time to think. A minimalist lifestyle, however, helps us to stay focussed on the essential. To reduce our demands to the most necessary and to focus above all on ourselves. On that, what we really want. On that, what makes us really happy.
Nevertheless, everyone has to decide for themselves, what „the essential“ means. There are no set rules. There are some minimalists who gave up their permanent residence and some who nearly don’t possess any material goods anymore. For me, this kind of minimalism would be too extreme because it wouldn’t make me happy to have no permanent residence or to only live from my suitcase or cartons. However, this is up to oneself as mentioned earlier.
„Minimalismis not defined by what is not there but by the rightness of what is and the richness with which this is experienced.“
– John Pawson