Lifestyle / Advice
May 5th, 2022
Minimalism: a lifestyle that feels great
Minimalism is often thought of as living with as few possessions as possible. But it’s actually much more than that. It’s an art of living designed to draw focus back to what really matters: restoring freedom and balance.
Minimalism? Some claim it started with the Ancient Greeks, way back in the 4th century BC. Even at that time, the philosopher Diogenes was already criticising the idea of pleonoxia (a tendency to accumulate more possessions than necessary) and advocating the idea that less is more. And he was true to his word: he lived in a barrel and owned just one bowl and one item of clothing!
Living with less for a better life
Two millennia and a few centuries later, minimalism has evolved – thankfully – into a less extreme approach to life. But it is still based on the idea that we should be living with as few possessions as possible. Its source of inspiration now comes from Japan, a country well known for its culture of Zen and meditation. One of its main champions is Fumio Sasaki, author of the best-selling book Goodbye, Things (2015), who in 2011, decided to eliminate all but his most vital possessions. Since then, he has lived in a bare apartment with only the very basic necessities, and donates any money he has left over to the Red Cross each month. Another muse for the minimalist cause is the quintessentially Japanese household name, Marie Kondo. Her minimalist approach began with tidying. As the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she advises readers to thank all the objects they would like to get rid of, then store those that remain vertically rather than horizontally. As they are visible and always accessible, the carefully selected and ordered objects are supposed to help enhance well-being and restore balance to people’s lives.
A liberating approach to life
But it would be a mistake to see minimalism as simply sorting through possessions and keeping only the bare minimum. That would mean sticking with a materialistic perspective where happiness depends on how many – or how few – possessions a person has. Minimalism is a broader way of looking at life: it is a liberating lifestyle that draws focus back to quality, highlighting what really matters in our daily lives.
Pierre Roubin, a philosopher, author and host of the blog lejournalminimal has some enlightening views on the matter. On his 43rd birthday, he decided to start living with just 43 objects. Rather than restrictive, he found the experience to be refreshing and liberating. “Living with less is above all about prioritising simplicity. Everything becomes easier and faster. It also brings greater enjoyment: it is a delight to use carefully selected, high quality objects. There is also more joy in life when you live in harmony with your environment. Living with less means increasing your chances of a brighter future.”
The art of getting back to basics, for yourself and your loved ones
Joy, freedom, delight, balance and quality. Those people who have taken a minimalist approach to life, or those who apply it to certain aspects of their lives all agree: this stripped-down art of living helps them understand what really matters. It isn’t limited to eliminating objects, it actually forces people to live more simply. Many aspects of life are concerned: decluttering a home, being content with what you have, prioritising relationships and nurturing only those that are truly beneficial, learning to spend time on things, allowing yourself breaks to get the most out of life, the possibilities are endless.
This reasoning applies first to your own self, because the minimalist philosophy requires its followers to love themselves as they are, warts and all. But it also enriches relationships with others. A newly acquired personal freedom provides an opportunity to devote more time and attention to loved ones.
Take a look inwards; select those objects, activities and people that are essential to your daily life. Minimalism is not about surrounding yourself with fewer things, it’s about living life to the full!
Here are some tips on paring down and starting a more minimalist lifestyle
Minimalism is a wonderful source of inspiration. Each person is free to learn from the lessons in the book to start living life more simply!
- Sort through your belongings; only keep those that you deem essential and/or that spark joy.
- Donate or give away excess items.
- Swap, rent or borrow rather than buy and keep.
- Consume simply, choose local produce.
- Use basic interior design.
- Think about the environment; consider your actions in view of their impact on the planet.
- Take time for yourself; accept yourself as you are.
- Spend more time with your loved ones, the people who mean the most to you.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”Leonardo da Vinci