When I Really Began to Understand Minimalism
I had this experience a while back while simply reading a book. I was sitting at a coffee shop, alone, trying to read with a sense of focus and all of the sudden I started seeing everything that was standing in between me and the book in front of me.
I’m not talking about the physical space in between me and the book. It was in my hands, right in front of me.
What I’m talking about is all the unnecessary stress about things that happened during the day, worry about an event I’d be going to later in the day, daydreaming and imagining that was happening in my head while I was trying to take this simple action of reading a book.
It was such a big shock to see how much unnecessary baggage I brought to this very simple act of sitting and reading.
As I moved on with my day, I became aware of this baggage coming with me wherever I went. This very real moment in which I became aware what felt like this extremely heavy coat covering up the love and happiness in me that was glued on, and I couldn’t take it off.
At that moment, I connected the experience with this concept of minimalist living. Living without unnecessary baggage. Creating an external environment that allows you to be even just a little it more free internally to live in a more wholistic way.
What Does It Mean To Be A Minimalist?
We are what we do.
Being a minimalist is really about adopting a mindset of intentional living. A mindset is something we experience internally, but what we do and how we behave in life is a direct result of our current state of mind.
The entire minimalist movement is supported by the foundation of one concept – freeing yourself from all of your unnecessary external “stuff” to support the inner freedom you need to live a life with purpose.
There isn’t much that is required to be considered “minimalist,” and of course, there’s no uniform definition.
*You just have to answer one question over and over and over: *What do I want to accomplish and experience in this life, and how can I simplify my life so I can remain focused on what’s genuinely important?
The large question of course comes with many other smaller questions you have to ask and answer with some real sincerity.
- What do I own, and what purpose does everything I own serve in my life?
- What do I do on a daily basis, and do those actions support the quality of life I wish to experience every day?
I truly believe Millburn and Nicodemus landed on one of the most significant truths about this world – that most of the time, we’re living as slaves.
We are slaves to our mortgages, to our children’s private schools, to our expensive home appliances, high end cars, 60-70 hour a week jobs…. you get the point.
I am in no way saying that there is anything WRONG with having a mortgage or sending your kids to private school.
Being a minimalist is about understanding all the unnecessary tension, anxiety and distress that comes with this external slavery and realizing that you don’t HAVE to subject yourself to it.
If you have everything described above and the quality of your life is what you would consider high as hell, that is absolutely amazing.
You have the inner freedom that Millburn and Nicodemus wished to achieve with the shedding of all their possessions.
But if you’re like most of us and you don’t really understand the purpose and meaning of your life anymore because you’re constantly juggling different external responsibilities that seem trivial the majority of the time, adopting some form of a minimalist mindset might help change the quality of your life.
How Becoming A Minimalist Can Change You
It forces you to face extremely important questions
I believe that understanding what’s important in life comes first of all with asking questions we’ve never really faced.
Coming to the door of these questions is the first step towards living with intention, and it is the first true benefit that comes with “becoming a minimalist.”
The questions I listed above about questioning why you own the things you own and the purpose they serve, whether you’re satisfied and happy with what you’re doing, asking yourself what in your own life are you a slave to, and whether your actions conform to the quality of life you want to experience and live with on a daily basis are the only possible foundation for true fulfillment.
If you never ask yourself whether what you’re doing and how you live is really going to lead to fulfillment, you can basically throw it out the window because you’re depending on luck to live a high quality of life.
And I’m not talking about a high quality of life in the eyes of others, I’m saying, according to your OWN standards, you cannot possibly live with the quality you expect.
Opens up a possibility of inner freedom
One of my favorite analogies for this is the beautiful way that trees shed their leaves in the fall so that new ones can grow in spring.
The simple act of ridding yourself of things you own that aren’t necessary facilitates an opening inside of you.
You start to realize that there’s a lot of what’s unnecessary both inside of you and outside of you, and you begin to question it.
When you question what’s unnecessary a space opens up for something new, and only when you have this sort of inner freedom can you make a decision about how to fill it with intention rather than reaction.
When you continually engage in this behavior of letting go of what’s unnecessary and filling the space based on intention, you quickly find that you are have the ability to be brand new person with a brand new sense of life.
One based on what you truly believe is important.
You see that life can be simple
Life on its own isn’t complicated. We make it complicated.
A chair is for sitting. A party is for celebrating. Thought is for creativity, curiosity, and questioning. My body works to keep me alive. Negative emotions don’t feel good because they’re unhealthy.
I could go on forever, but here’s the point. When you live in a simple way outside of yourself, your inner world becomes more simple. How you interpret life can become simple. You have an opportunity to stop making events, objects, and even thoughts and emotions more than what they are.
You can begin to see things for what they are. We bring complication to the world by the way we live and interpret it.
You realize that taking care of yourself is important
When you start living more simply and are forced to question what is of genuine importance, you have no choice but to face mental, physical and emotional health as an enormous factor.
The way you take care of your mind, heart and body shows up in the quality of your life and when you get past all the unnecessary baggage, you can see it more clearly. This causes you to WANT to take care of yourself.
Better relationships & love life
The concept is similar to taking care of yourself. Realizing what’s important always comes with the understanding that relationships are of extreme importance to the quality of our lives. This causes you to cherish them, work on them, and work towards creating more love in your life.
Learn to let go of negativity
Fear, anxiety, stress, depression, anger… have they ever helped take you in a positive direction? Do they ever help you work productively towards your goals, create or maintain relationships, or do they do the complete opposite?
Living simply brings you to the truth of this.