What Does Minimalist Living Mean?
by Sachin Srivastava
Minimalist – What is the first thing that came to mind when you heard this word? A person who doesn’t own things; A person who believes in living with the bare minimum; A person who is stingy; A person who is cut off from the world! All these qualities can be attributed to being minimalist – but surely don’t define who a minimalist really is.
Minimalism is any design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect. Therefore, a Minimalist is a person who is interested in keeping things simple. This, in my view, is the central theme of minimalist living. The idea is not to reduce the desired effect but rather enhance it by filtering out the distractions. The two images shown below demonstrate the idea - remember quality isn’t always determined by the number of things one owns but how these things enhance one’s environment and life.
How do we transition to living with less?
- First step is to understand the difference between Happiness & Contentment. Happiness that comes from external stimuli is often temporary. We consume, we get happy for a while, and then it goes away. And we repeat this cycle. Contentment, on the other hand, comes from internal balance and is sustainable. In simple terms, happiness is driven by achieving goals whereas contentment comes from not having any goals. When we are content within, we seek less from outside. I started smoking cigarettes when I was a sophomore and did that for 10 years. Smoking gave me pleasure, instant gratification while I was doing it. A few years back, I decided to quit simply by making a choice to be content without smoking. It was tough for a few days in the beginning when I had to overcome the urge. But then it went away and I don't feel unhappy.
- Second step is to differentiate between what we need vs what we want – We often want many things we don’t really need. And remember, this is not just about physical things but even life goals & experiences e.g. becoming a VP in your company at a certain age, building a following on social media, or simply deciding how much water should you use for bathing. Personally, I was addicted to Instagram, actively posted content, and then kept checking back to see how many people watched it or liked it. And I often wondered how many likes on a post can be considered good? Of course, it's easy to understand that I didn't need an Instagram following to be happy. It was something I wanted. The moment I could make that differentiation, I started cutting back on my activity level - and I just checked that I have actually made just three posts over the last one year. I am not saying everyone should get off social media, that’s a choice. The point is that we must critically evaluate our needs & wants in various aspects of our lives and make a conscious choice.
- Third step is to learn to give up things that we don’t need. This is a natural progression that happens when we start looking at things based on their utility. And the more you get rid of things, you start to realize how liberating it is. Start by making a list of things that you own and activities that you indulge in. Simply try to take out just one item from that list - something that you truly can do away with. Start with that.
When we get rid of these things and artificial goals we don’t need, we find the freedom to choose our own path to lasting contentment. More importantly, we are not bound by someone else’s idea of happiness.
Lastly, like everything else in life, leading a minimalist lifestyle isn’t a binary function. You don’t wake up one fine day to the idea of living with less. It’s an evolutionary process that involves constant evaluation of one’s priorities which may change over time. Moreover, what might seem necessary for someone may be extravagant for someone else. Therefore, the idea is not to compare with others. It’s your journey, start by evaluating where you are right now. And focus on what it is that you are willing to give up because you simply don’t need it – get rid of it. And do that again without making it another goal or compulsion.
Remember, Minimalists are just like everyone else but with less material possessions!
Sachin Srivastava is an engineer by profession and explorer by passion. New places, ideas & experiences inspire him. Being a minimalist, he likes to keep things simple.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this journal are those of the authors and are for information purposes only and not medical advice. Further, they do not reflect the opinions or views of Aminu Wellness Pvt Ltd or any of its directors. Any content provided by the author(s) are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone, or anything.