It seems to have become the norm in western culture to be defined by how much one has and earns. However is all this ‘stuff’ actually making us any happier?
I will soon explain exactly what minimalism is but firstly what are the benefits of practising it?
- Reduced stress/ anxiety
- More time/ energy for what’s important in life
- Extra money, which you can choose to spend on experiences or simply work less!
- Increase of internal focus and feelings of presence rather than being distracted and affected by everything going on externally
- Feelings of empowerment by how little you need. The less you need the less you can be controlled
- Becoming defined by who you are not what you have
- Break out of the consumerism cycle. ‘If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem’ (Eldridge Cleaver)
Here are 5 minimalism-inspired ways to bring more joy, satisfaction and meaning to our lives:
- Learn what minimalism really is. What it ISN’T is having an empty, plain white-walled room with nothing but a flat bed, and an expensive futuristic lamp next to a copy of the latest hipster book.Minimalism IS about ensuring that every thing you own sparks joy (1). Therefore a cluttered room could be minimalist if every item is cherished. Have a hard think about what is important to you in life. One tip is to place your hands on each item, close your eyes and try to sense if you feel joy with this item. If not, thank it for its service and get rid of it! This exercise can be extended to virtually every area of your life: hobbies, friends….. If learning Mandarin isn’t bringing you joy why are you doing it?
2. Take an honest look at your clothes, box of makeup, hair and body products. Do you believe they are even doing anything? I remember seeing products being advertised and rushing out to get them because I really felt that they would change my life, I never reassessed the situation to check this and instead found myself in a constant loop.
Are there any products that could be combined into one? Do ALL your items need to be brand new or could they be second hand so as not to contribute to the land-fill? Are you in control of your spending or or are you controlled (subconsciously) by marketing and big business? Also as hard as it might be, ask yourself why you feel that you need all of these things and why you find it difficult to see that you are actually perfect exactly the way you are. Check out a film called ‘Miss Representation’ to find out exactly why and how we as women are manipulated to not feel satisfied with ourselves. This film definitely helped my body confidence a lot! Also try practising more self-love!
As a bonus Google search ‘Steve Jobs 1 outfit‘ and see why he used to wear the same clothes every day. This is something I’m currently trying to put into practice!
3. Food. Did you know that snacking was invented in the 1970’s (2) as a way to make more money from us?
Most of the foods around us are NOT there to make us healthy (in fact they’re doing the opposite!), they are there to make a few people, a LOT of money. If you have to read the label to see if something is healthy then how healthy can it really be?
If only there was natural and convenient way to eat a sweet snack with its own packaging on the way to the office.
Aside from the health side-effects, the abundance of food we now have access to is actually adding to our already overly- complicated lives and is yet another simple distraction stopping us from seeing what’s really going on in the world (but this is for a different blog post!). Did you know for example that lots of people maintain a healthy body and weight from eating just 1 (plant-based) meal per day? This may sound extreme but it does demonstrate that we don’t always have to do what has been recommended to us in in mainstream information. And actually to me, eating at 8am, 1pm and 6pm every day because that’s what ‘everybody else does’ sounds more mad to me.
4. Thoughts. over-thinking is a condition (illness) of being human. So severe in fact it appears to be causing more than mental health conditions but physical ones too. The answer? Meditation meditation meditation. (In fact the more I explore life the more I find that the answer to most questions actually appears to be meditation, including world peace). Whatever it is that clears your mind be it yoga, rock climbing, cycling or surfing- do more of it!
- Marie Kondo ‘The life-changing magic of tidying’
- ‘The men who made us fat’ BBC