Minimalism seems to be a big buzzword these days. It certainly is an attractive thought. Paring down one’s lifestyle to the essentials and learning to live more simply can sound very appealing. Therefore, it’s worth it to dive in and see if the minimalist lifestyle is for you and me.
For this week and next, we’re going to look at what minimalism is, and isn’t. And, for those who want to give it a shot, we’ll be looking at how to become a minimalist in Singapore.
Marie Kondo—minimalist or not?
Marie Kondo has been around for a few years now. But then she got her own show on Netflix earlier this year, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. And then it seemed that everyone started to look at their stuff and began to ask themselves if what they had ‘sparked joy.’
According to Ms Kondo’s konmari method, if something doesn’t spark joy, it’s probably time to say goodbye to it. But are her methods a minimalist? Not exactly, one writer who has ventured into the minimalist lifestyle says.
Melissa Haag from The House of Plaidfuzz says this: “Minimalism is about simplicity. The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you. The Konmari method, which is laid out in Marie Kondo’s book, is the pursuit of your ideal life, and only keeping items in your home that ‘spark joy’ for you.
Some people get their possessions down to a minimal number, because that is what sparks joy for them, and brings them peace, but some still live in relatively cluttered environments by a minimalist standard.”
So what IS minimalism?
Minimalism is considered to be quite a significant movement of our time. But it extends far beyond material things and is really more about the state of a person’s soul. Contrary to popular opinion, minimalism is NOT about living rigidly with a prescribed number of things. It is simply about getting rid of things you no longer use or need.
Minimalists believe that material things enslave us in three ways—physically, psychologically and financially.
Therefore, the goal of minimalism is to have an uncluttered and simple living space and to live a simple life. It’s all about breaking free from the bonds of materialism and the habit of accumulating things to find happiness.
Minimalism is not a newfangled idea. Although the term minimalism has gained popularity fairly recently, the lifestyle has long been practiced across cultures and beliefs. Both Christianity and Buddhism mention denouncing material possessions to gain spiritual wealth and insight from centuries ago.
In the ’50s and ’60s, the term minimalism emerged so as to clarify simplistic trends. This happened first in music, then in art and design. The ideas were all the same — remove unnecessary and superfluous elements so as to focus on a single element.
Then, people began to notice the visual appeal of minimalism. Today, minimalism is not only seen in music, art or architecture, but it is lived as a lifestyle.
However, as in every trending wave or movement, there are pros and cons to the lifestyle. Why not see for yourself and decide if minimalism is something you would like to explore?
The advantages of minimalism
- You gain more freedom. One of the best benefits this lifestyle provides is added freedom when it comes to space and time. Because your physical living area is decluttered, the demands that physical things put on you are removed. Therefore, you can actually use your time for what matters. For example, instead of having to clean every centimeter of your mug collection, you only have to clean one mug tor drinking coffee. This frees you up to have time to have a wonderful conversation with your loved ones.
- You focus on stuff less. Because minimalism instills living simply in those who practice it, there will be less of an obsession with accumulating things. Because of this, you will spend less and have more money and savings. You can actually use your hard-earned money for the things that are truly meaningful in life. So, instead of buying your favourite brand of shoes every month, you can spend those savings on taking out your parents for some much-needed family time.
- You can finally concentrate on your health and hobbies. Because you have more time on your hands, you can finally join that yoga class that’s been on your to-do list for a while now. You can spend your time and money eating healthily and taking care of your body. Explore new hobbies! Join that calligraphy class you’ve been desiring to do, and have fun!
The disadvantages of minimalism
1. You’ll experience resistance. It does take toll on your soul when you try to explain your lifestyle to people who don’t get it. Some people have closed minds to minimalism. They’re attached to their things and find a certain meaningfulness in their consumption.
Let’s face it, minimalism can seem counterintuitive to the times we live in. We are bombarded with messages to buy the latest iPhone, trade in our car for a new one, or buy what’s in fashion this season. You’ll be tempted to envy those who have more. But the freedom you can when you actually get rid of stuff will be well worth it.
2. You’ll be tempted to turn the minimalist lifestyle into something legalistic or a system of rules. Minimalism, like any philosophy or lifestyle taken to an extreme, can become as bad as its opposite. Don’t forget that the goal is freedom for your soul, through minimizing the number of possessions you have. Don’t exchange one prison for another.
Remember this: there is no standard definition for minimalism. What could be minimalism for others may not be minimalism for you. Not one type is better than the other. Remember, minimalism is not about counting stuff. It is simply a tool to get rid of life’s excess so you can focus on important things.
3. Trying to find balance may be tricky. Somewhat related to the second point, you may find it difficult to strike a good balance. Let’s say you’re shopping and you really want the new bag you see on display. The price is reasonable and within your budget.
But then, your minimalistic ideals might just spring up and prevent you from making the purchase, leaving you feeling deprived and even frustrated. Again, this lifestyle is about finding joy and freedom. If that bag really gives you joy, buy it. Don’t be limited to a strict set of rules. Be free to live life and enjoy it!
Minimalism–Yea or Nay?
So, it’s up to you to decide on minimalism. What do you think–Yea or nay?
If you have a yes in your heart to this, don’t forget to tune in next week, when I show you the 5 Steps to Becoming a Minimalist in Singapore.
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