On the surface this is a simple question. Because it’s the life that most people live every day. But to truly understand minimalism we need to understand what it’s not.
As minimalism is a life ideology the best way to look at it is through other life ideologies. A the most common is the modern ‘american dream’ or ‘great australian dream’ or whatever localised version. The core tenants normally being including or being an internetwork of financial security, home ownership and higher education. Financial security is the most interesting on that list in relation to minimalism, because we could take a communistic approach, the wealthy give up their wealth to live within their means and the poor then get the money to live within their means. But that really doesn’t bring to mind financial security. What is financial security? Increasingly it’s about material goods, the newest smartphone the biggest flat screen. It is compulsory consumption. It is what is sold to us in ads and by the ‘more successful’ around us. Increasingly it’s not leading to happiness it’s leading to debt, dissatisfaction and the urge to consume more to fill the hole in our lives. Buying a new shelf to fill with clutter rather than throwing the clutter away. Truly believing that the clutter (emotional and physical) can be solved with better organisation and buying more things rather than letting go. The ‘american dream’ is about following the status quo it’s about living up to the expectations of others and feeling depressed when that doesn’t make you happy. If following the rules doesn’t make you happy then what hope is there. There must be something wrong with you right?
Minimalism is about opting out of the system of compulsive consumption that is not making us happy. I think everyone has something in their life that they can minimise that will make them happier. It might be hard to do, it might be just a wardrobe or your entire home. In the end it’s a journey to a happier future. Not a mandated list of rules about the things you need to get rid of. Really, in the end minimalism might not be a choice consumerism is bad for our planet and bad for human workers.
“we’re going to have to give up a lot, the secret is a lot of that we are not actually going to miss”-Jay Austin