When you mention the minimalist lifestyle to the average person, thoughts of giving up all worldly possessions, leaving behind the life one is used to and leading an ascetic, lonely lifestyle with very few pleasures or indulgences may come to mind.
Now, while becoming a religious monk does entail an extreme form of self-sacrifice and, in the sense of stripping down to just the bare essentials, can be considered “minimalist”, this is far from what is usually being espoused by those who are promoting a more basic approach to life.
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What is a Minimalist Lifestyle?
The minimalist lifestyle, simply put, endeavors to do away with whatever it is that is making one’s life too bogged down with complexities and unnecessary stress factors.
It can relate to money, career, or a profession; it can also refer to a simplification of routines or activities that have become bigger than intended and have overpowered the original purpose.
Minimalism, as a lifestyle choice, is the attempt to return to the basics of the human experience and how it is best appreciated in its purest, most genuine form.
Minimalism & Money
Minimalism in finances is usually considered as a foundation or cornerstone of the switch to a simpler lifestyle, as it is intricately connected to almost every other facet of modern life.
As a society, we have been brainwashed to think that the more things we possess, the happier we will be.
The Consumerist vs The Minimalist
If you have the latest tech gadgets, drive the newest car, buy the nicest home, and go to the trendiest night spots and fine dining restaurants, then you “have it made” and you will be a happy camper.
Of course, all too soon the emptiness of this philosophy becomes apparent, but often the vicious cycle has become hard to break. People work hard, even work second or third jobs, in order to afford the things they see their friends have and keep up with the lifestyle, but find that the accumulation of possessions does not really replace a quality and meaningful life.
Minimalism seeks to reverse this trend and counter the culture: “The less I have, the more I can enjoy life.”
Minimalism And Priorities
Instead of focusing on what to buy and how to earn the money to buy these things, minimalism seeks to be free of the consumerist culture by focusing on how to enjoy life and those that really matter, with or without the trappings of material possessions and the trappings of luxuries.
Because the expectations with regards to money and material things becomes refocused to other more meaningful pursuits that enrich the soul and strengthen relationships with loved ones and friends, the individual will then change his or her priorities in career, work hours, and daily schedules.
Choosing what matters
The minimalist chooses to only buy things that are either essential or enriching, and will make sure to consider value and cost-effectiveness in purchasing decisions.
Instead of being bogged down by excessive debt or bills for unnecessary expenses, the minimalist wants to attain financial peace and freedom through living within his or her means and making wise spending choices, not influenced by societal pressure or images in the media.
Driving a smaller and fuel-efficient vehicle, moving to a more eco-friendly residence with less space, taking less work-related projects in lieu of more family time, and choosing to buy only the necessities are just some of the ways that minimalists aim to be free of the cycle of materialism that still holds many captive in contemporary society.
But it is important to remember that, at its core, minimalism is fluid, and a very personal journey that provides a different experience for each individual, relative to one’s own goals.
What do you think? Have you taken any minimalist steps in your life? What advantages and drawbacks do you see to the minimalist lifestyle?