Why I’m a Minimalist

Our culture of materialism is little more than corporate-sponsored slavery.

We’re caught in an endless cycle of earning money to spend money. And no matter how much we work, it’s never enough. We’re living paycheck to paycheck, are in debt and have no savings.

Yet, we’re still able to afford to buy shit we don’t need…

Embracing a minimalist lifestyle has allowed me to reject our culture of consumerism. I’m free to create the life I want for myself rather than the one being marketed to me on television. I can ignore the fleeting trends in fashion, the latest technologies and pop culture. By  ignoring our materialist culture, I’m free to chase after my dreams and live on my own terms. I can focus my attention, time and money on the things I value and that are a priority to me.

Minimalism appeals to different people in different ways. For some, it’s about style; the appearance of a room. Others find peace in the simplicity of less. For me, minimalism was the key that unlocked the door to my freedom.

Finding Meaning

Gate at front of Old farmhouse by aussie julie "life through a lens" on FlickrIt seems so long ago since I discovered what direction I wanted my life to go.  In reality, it has only been a couple of years but so much has happened in that time.

Before realizing what was important in my life, I had no direction.  I was living day to day with no plan for the future and I was not focusing any energy towards acheiving anything better for myself.  At the time, I didn’t realize that I was wasting my life.  I would find ways of bringing happiness and pleasure into my life, mostly through acquiring material possessions.

The more stuff that I bought, the better I felt, the more successful I thought I was.  The feeling of success wasn’t for having actually accomplished anything with my life, but rather because I had acquired objects that I thought would project the image of success.  In reality I was broke, working at a job that barely made ends meet, but I had my stuff.  Maybe you know the feeling.

I wanted to project an image, but eventually I would realize that no one cared.

I understand now that purchasing all of this stuff was only a way for me to fill something that was missing in my life in a material way.   It wasn’t until I realized that an apartment littered with inanimate objects wasn’t making me happy that the accumulation of material possessions was no longer an important part of my life.  I didn’t feel like I had to buy something in order to project an image of success.  As long as in my heart I knew that I was doing everything I could to accomplish my goals, what I owned wasn’t important.

People project the image of success in various ways.  Some use fancy cars, big houses, complex home theatre systems and flat-screen TVs.  If you are one of these people who continually buys things because of the happiness you experience from having that object in your life, look inward and try to focus on what is actually missing in your life.  I’m going to bet that it isn’t that “Jersey Girl” DVD you thought you couldn’t possibly live without.

Find your focus and align your lifestyle in a way that is harmonious with your new vision of life.  Once you have a direction in life it is much easier to get to where you are going.

Success

Let me take you on a journey.  I promise, it won’t be far and I’ll have you home before dinner.  I’d like to take you to the other side of town.  You know, that part of town where the nice houses are.  The ones with shiny sports car sitting in the driveway. 

“If only I could be that successful” you say to yourself, losing yourself in thoughts of life in a big house, fast cars and more stuff than you could ever imagine.

Now let me challenge you.

We are taught that in order to be successful we must have “things”.  Shiny things, round things, big things, small things.  We are sold on the idea that stuff brings happiness.  The more stuff we have, the happier we are. 

I disagree.  A person is not successful because they own a brand-new sports car or live in a McMansion.

Success can only be measured by how satisfied a person is in their own life.  This is where defining goals comes in.  When there is a clear understanding of what a person values, iPhones, DVDs, designer clothes, Starbucks Grande Mocha-Latte all lose their importance and become an impediment to the goal.

Once I realized that the 350 DVDs that I had sitting around weren’t getting me any closer to what I hope to accomplish in life, I sold all but my absolute favorites.  No doubt that in time even more titles will lose their home in my collection.  I have another stack ready to go to the video store to be sold right now.

I used to collect action figures.  Not that I don’t still enjoy them, but because they are not contributing to my future goals, I’ve managed to sell off most of them, again, keeping only the ones that I get to enjoy daily in my display cabinet.  No longer do I have totes full of toys sitting in a storage unit.

I am constantly analyzing my possessions, finding even the smallest of things that do not provide value in my life anymore.  I sell what is of value on eBay, and donate the rest to Goodwill.  I do my best to keep what I can out of the garbage.  Save the Earth.

Think about what your goals are for your life.  Are your possessions in line with these goals?  If not, I know Goodwill will appreciate your donations.

“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
     -Charles Dudley Warner