Why You Should Give Minimalism a Chance

Sulabh Gupta

While my initial impression of Minimalism was that of another millennial trend that will fade sooner than later, the more I researched about Minimalism, the more I realized how much our society needs it today.

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Minimalism as a concept has gained immense popularity over the past couple of years. There have been several documentaries on Netflix that capture how peoples’ lives have transformed when they embraced Minimalism and why you probably should consider giving it a shot too.

What is Minimalism?

If you ask 100 different people about the definition of Minimalism, you will get 100 different definitions. Here is how Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist defines Minimalism, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.” This seems like a cliched definition but in order for you to understand it better, you need to first understand what Minimalism is not.

What Minimalism is not?

Just like me, a lot of people go with the literal definition and a high-level concept they may have heard about Minimalism, and form assumptions that are not always true. For example, Minimalism is not about giving up everything you own and to live like a monk, Minimalism is not about being frugal and not buying things you love, etc.

The definition is so open to interpretation that you don’t have to adhere to a specific routine to include certain aspects of Minimalism in your life. For you the concept of Minimalism may be different than my understanding of the concept of Minimalism. I consider Minimalism to be a concept that teaches you to take a step back before you take the decision to buy something to examine if you really need it or if it is an impulse buy or if I am buying it just because I saw someone on social media with similar stuff. That doesn't mean that I have to give up everything I own to be a minimalist.

Your definition and understanding of this concept could be different than me but the core idea is to help you spend your time and money on things that hold value to you and not a race to more and more material possessions.

Here are a few reasons why it may make sense for you to give Minimalism a chance:

1) Pandemic Impact on the World Economy

COVID-19 resulted in millions of people losing their jobs, thousands of businesses shutting down and people are struggling to pay their debts. According to the Wall Street Journal, Layoffs might have topped 40 million.

The loss of income has resulted in tighter budgets for people and has reduced the overall spending and it is at times like these that your savings nest comes to the rescue. However, because of the booming economy over the past several years and the rise of social media, material possession has dominated the mindset of the younger generation.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that people have become more mindful in their spending habits. What Minimalism can help teach you is how being mindful with your spending can help you save more money by reducing your unnecessary spending and instead spend this money on things that hold value to you and at the same time be more prepared for times like these.

2) Environmental Impact

Climate change is real. I sincerely believe that if that is not the case today, in a few decades humans will definitely start burning the natural resources at a higher rate than they are being replenished. We only have planet Earth as the option unless of course Elon Musk successfully colonizes Mars.

Did you know, it can take 2700 liters of water to produce the cotton of a single t-shirt (Source: World Wildlife Fund). With the rise in Fast Fashion Brands like H&M, Zara, etc., and the easy availability and affordability of these products, the sales of these products have exploded in the last decade. Minimalism can help us reduce our carbon footprint by helping us reduce our consumption.

One concept of Minimalism is to get rid of the stuff that you don’t need. If you have a pant that no longer fit, you or you haven’t worn for over a year then get rid of it – donate it or give it to your younger brother or someone who can use it. The point is not to own 20 pairs of trousers when you only wear 4 of them.

3) Materialism and Happiness

Social media has dominated our lives over the past decade and several studies have suggested that people do not connect with other individuals at a deeper emotional level anymore. The fact that young people spend a majority of their time on social-media gives them a sense of insecurity because they compare every aspect of their lives with other folks on social media. This ends up with them feeling that everyone except them is living a great life.

A study from Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that the rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression over the past year increased 52 percent in teens and 63 percent in young adults over a decade. The comparison of someone’s happiness based on the amount of material possessions someone has is dangerous and results in more and more people living a life dominated by what others are doing and not being grateful with what you yourself have.

Minimalism can help make that necessary shift where you realize that having the same material possessions that your friend has may not bring you any more happiness. Spending your money on stuff that align with your values is what matters and not buying something just because your friend or someone on your social media feed has it. With unnecessary clutter gone from life, there will be fewer distractions and an individual can spend his/her extra time on various hobbies like gardening, paintings, etc., and focus on mental health.

Final Words

While I believe that a lot of people misunderstand Minimalism as a concept, and like every other major trend over the past several years, Minimalism has been sensationalized in documentaries to a level that is so extreme, that it pushes away people who can genuinely benefit from decluttering their lives. I think just having 2-3 t-shirts in my closet is not something that will work for me but I also know that having 20 wouldn't help me either. So, the key is to find a balance of what works for you and what doesn't.

I also realize that sometimes buying something can bring happiness as well. If that is the case, go buy it by all means but before you do, think hard about why you are buying it and if it really makes you happy. Do you really need that extra pair of pant, if yes, go for it but consider discarding the one that you don't see yourself wearing anymore. Minimalism is not a one-stop solution to your problems, but it can be a step towards leading a clutter-free and stress-free life.

Have you or someone you know has taken the first steps towards decluterring their lives? What is your version of Minimalism? Let me know in the comments.

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