Minimalism is very trendy right now – be it in interior design, your wardrobe or as a lifestyle. But there are as many definitions as there are ways of doing it. Some people have a rather extreme and drastic approach to it, others only make small adjustments or change certain aspects of their life. The variety is huge. And that’s a good thing in my opinion – because call it what you want, if it makes you happy and feel good about it and yourself. But since I can impossibly talk about all variations of the word in detail here and now, I would like to focus on two guys and their interpretation of minimalism – the one approach that has resonated by far the most with me (so far): Joshua and Ryan, the guys behind the blog theminimalists.com.
I have only come across them about two months ago, but their ideas have made a real impact on my life already (had a packing party!). But before showering them with my admiration for their innovative ideas, let me explain their concept to you (for those who don’t know them already): Minimalism is basically what you make it – it’s very individual and means different things for different people. It’s about finding the things that truly add value to your life and get rid of the rest. The idea behind this is to save energy, time, money and space for the things that really matter in life – be it family, friends, yourself, your passion, whatever. Because far too often we experience all the stuff we have as a burden – sometimes, without even noticing what it is doing to us. Not realising that it’s our stuff that’s literally weighing us down. I have mentioned this compulsory consumption aspect in another blogpost already, because it’s such a serious phenomenon in today’s society.
But let’s start step by step: Have you taken an inventory of your life lately? When was the last time you had a deeper look at what you are actually doing with your life? When was the last time you questioned the items that you have and that you bring into your life? Do you really need all of them regularly? What about the people? More directly asked maybe: Are you truly happy with your life the way it is or is it just happening to you? When I started asking myself these questions, it sparked my interest in the topic (so did their documentary Minimalism initially). It’s not as if I had been living a very unhappy life and felt the urgent need for change – I was in a far more dangerous place, I dare to say. Because once people reach the point where they are so miserable, they need to change their circumstances – they often do. But being only slightly uncomfortable isn’t enough of a motivation to take action. Very often people stay stuck in the situation they’re in – for far too long, even if it could be far better – only because it’s not quite bad enough. Isn’t this ironic?
So, in my case I was in this uncomfy place and only got the wake-up call by chance – because Netflix recommended their documentary to me (thanks Netflix!). And not only have I started to question a few things in my life for the first time in ages, but I have also used the gained momentum to take action and get down to things I had been procrastinating for so long (like finally getting a new bed, getting rid of a lot of the stuff cluttering my room up to the ceiling, getting done with some toxic friends and so on). Just decluttering my life really. And that’s exactly how it felt – I was regaining my personal freedom somehow. I know, that sounds cheesy – but that’s how it felt. The thing is, from the outside you probably couldn’t notice much of a change – but on the inside things shifted a lot. What happened on the outside was mostly the result of internal processes, thoughts and ideas taking form. Changing my view on some aspects of my life helped me optimising and improving it – it helped me grow again. Because I had been far too comfortable with my situation for a mid-twenty, young person. Being comfortable with what you’ve achieved and the position you’re in, is something for retired and older people. By then you have hopefully gained so much experience in life that you can lean back and slow down a little – well deserved. Therefore, receiving this wake-up call was one of the best things that have happened to me this year, for sure.
What really attracted me about their concept and interpretation of minimalism though, was the fact that they don’t give you a recipe to follow (as so many so-called experts in this field do). They give you a bunch of ingredients and want you to get creative and coming up with a recipe yourself. It’s about exploring yourself and your talents, your preferences and ultimately spicing things up to your taste. And that makes so much more sense to me than any ready-to-use plan – because we’re all so different, I feel it’s impossible to dish out a one-fits-all solution. It doesn’t make sense. This different approach on the other hand, really does.
So, the most important ingredients I extracted for myself are:
- Question every item you want to bring into your life. Does this really add true value?
- Only allow people into your life that help you grow and be yourself (“You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you”).
- Don’t get too comfortable – keep constantly challenging yourself.
- Cultivate your passion. (LINK)
- Less is more – we need less stuff than we think. Try it out!
- Take it on your own speed – don’t rush yourself.
- Only decluttering your material possessions won’t be a lasting solution. There is more to it.
And I guess, that’s just the start to it. Minimalism seems like a process to me in which you are constantly evolving and figuring things out. The way life is changing, your approach to it needs to change accordingly. Makes sense, right? And after breaking down some of the points above, it became clear that – in order to preserve my gains – I needed to figure out a few more essential concepts. But that will be an extra post another time – stay tuned!
Featured sculpture made by my little brother