The Mindful Materialist
Thoughts on Minimalism
There are lots of people on the internet devoting their lives to preaching minimalism. Some of my favourites who I’ve been following for a while are the self-titled ‘Minimalists’, Signe Hansen from Use Less and Madeleine Olivia from her namesake YouTube channel. There are many others on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube, and you can also find inspiration in bookstores and magazines. But what is minimalism? Why do it? Is it the best way forward?
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favour of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” – The Minimalists
To put it simply, minimalism is living with minimal material things. How far you take this concept though is entirely individual. Some extreme minimalists can fit all their belongings in one bag, while others furnish a whole house for themselves and their families. I prefer to think of minimalism as a spectrum though. At one end there are the people who only own the essential things they need to live – the life-in-a-backpack type. At the other end, there’s those who buy the minimal amount they need for comfort and happiness – there’s a bit more room here for home decor and mindful purchasing. The point is to reflect on what is important, what we need and what makes us happy.
“If you desire to live with fewer material possessions, or not own a car or a television, or travel all over the world, then minimalism can lend a hand.” – The Minimalists
If there’s one thing I learned from the Minimalism documentary, it’s that there is no single reason for embarking on a minimalist approach to life. Some people want to take decluttering to the next level. Some want to get back to basics and live a simpler life. Some want to downsize. Some want to travel. Some want to detach from things so they can place more value on their relationships and experiences. Some want all these things or any combination. But I think it’s important to note that minimalism isn’t for everyone, and your reason needs to come from you.
AM I A MINIMALIST?
No. That’s the simple answer. I’d be lying if I said I was a minimalist, but I’m not a maximalist either. I try to choose carefully how I spend my money and who I support. I have a lot of clutter and I’m ok with that. I like that my room is full of books and albums, plants and artwork. It’s definitely more than I need to live comfortably right now. However, I’m constantly learning and reading about ways I can improve my life – whether I take that advice or leave it. Maybe one day I will be more of a minimalist. I can definitely see the appeal of having less. For now, I remain a mindful materialist.
THE MINIMALISM GAME
“Whether you donate, sell, or trash your excess, every material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.” – The Minimalists
Want to see if minimalism is right for you? This game from The Minimalists might help you find out.
It’s quite simple – on day one you get rid of one thing (mindfully and responsibly of course), on day two get rid of two things, on day three get rid of three things, and so on… you get the idea. By day 30, you will have rid yourself of over 450 things. You can do this with a buddy too and set it up as a challenge – whoever gets the furthest wins!
Minimalism isn’t for everyone, but I think if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that things are replaceable, lives aren’t. I think we could all benefit from placing more value on the people and incredible places around us, and less on the things we purchase. We might just do some environmental and psychological good in the process. That doesn’t mean you have to throw everything away though! Do what works for YOU and your life.
See resources page for further reading.