Minimalism is an idea that is on the rise. This is the moment in an ascendent trend line when a lot of new people are introduced to an idea without having a firm idea of what it all means. This is also the moment when all the minimalists step up to the plate and try to define the movement as they see it. That rush to define and own the movement is ironically antithetical to the deepest ideas of minimalism.
The truth about minimalism is that it is exactly what you make of it. You are the master of your minimal lifestyle. No one can tell you that you are doing it wrong, or that it wasn’t minimal enough. Like a diet, you have to start somewhere. Pick the easiest thing to target and take it as far as you like. If you are new to the concept of a minimalist lifestyle, here is a good place to start:
1. Health Anxiety
We commonly think of minimalism as getting rid of stuff, but what about minimal healthcare? This does not mean taking your health for granted. It means being healthy without overusing tools such as doctors, elective surgeries, and prescription pharmaceuticals with more side-effects than primary effects. What you want is exactly the amount of healthcare you need, and no more. You only go for more when less no longer works.
Don’t opt for carpal tunnel surgery when physical therapy will do. Don’t opt for a prescription pain reliever or sleep aid when a recommended CBD supplement will do. Don’t make an appointment for the sniffles when a cup of herbal tea and a good night’s rest will do.
Life produces excess. There is no getting around that fact. Excess is waste. We cannot have life without waste. But we can commit to minimizing that waste. We do that by committing to more sustainable solutions. Buy products that last. Be quick to repair and slow to replace. The minimalist ethos demands that we leave minimal ripples in our wake. We leave the planet in at least as good a shape as when we found it. And if we do it right, we will leave it in better shape than anyone could have imagined.
3. Emotional Baggage
We all carry emotional bags that are far too full. Each piece of complexity we add to our lives adds to that emotional baggage. The good news is that those bags are not permanent. We do not have to keep all that baggage. While we will never completely rid ourselves of drama, we can greatly reduce it. If emotional baggage is proportional to the unnecessary complexity of life, we can reduce both by trimming the following:
- Unnecessary tech
- Corrosive relationships
- Clutter disguised as furniture and decoration
- Excess credit and debt
These are the things that tend to create drama. They are heat without light, noise without signal. They rob us of joy at a time when we can use it the most. Reducing life’s effluvia will also minimize emotional baggage.
While somewhat counterintuitive, being alone too much is deleterious to a minimalist lifestyle. When we carry our burdens alone, our load is heavier and harder to bear. Many hands make shorter work. There is a difference between independence and isolation. We can retain our sense of self without shutting out the people in our lives that can help us. Minimize your load by sharing it with those who know you and love you best.
- Busy Work
Some people are uncomfortable with a hole in their schedule. They simply have no idea what to do with downtime. They are afraid that if there is a moment when they are doing nothing, nothing is getting done. That kind of pressure on a constant basis is crazy-making.
If you meet with your team 5 times a week, try reducing it to 3 and see what happens. Hint: nothing bad will happen except your crew will be a little happier about not having to attend so many useless meetings. If you have 5 calendar items a day, find 1 or 2 to strike. Find a meeting to cancel. Find an errand to delegate. Trust the people in your life to do their job. Letting go of busy work is the best way to embrace the minimalist ethos.
Finances are one of life’s biggest stressors. However, people that have learned to live within or below their means have found it to be life-changing. When you do things like reduce your debt, learn the difference between needs and wants, increase your savings, and invest in your future, you feel more financially secure. This ultimately leads to happier living.
Start by creating a budget, evaluating your debts, and developing a repayment plan. Then, use resources like small loans to build credit and adopt good money management skills to maintain your frugal lifestyle.
What is minimalism? There are no right answers. It is whatever it means to you. But if you give it a try, you are sure to experience less health anxiety, less waste, less emotional clutter, less aloneness, and less busy work.