Saturday, October 1, 2011

Contemplating a Minimalist Life

If there’s one important realization that I arrived at these past few months, it is that human beings are irrational. This irrationality explains why we have a constant need to accumulate things that are not important and involve in activities that wastes our time. And we prize these possessions as part of our success that we let our friends know about them. We do not fail to update our Facebook status on the things we now have like a new iPhone, a new car or every other stuff we think is cool to have. Most of the time, our friends in Facebook hate us with envy for things we got and would do their ultimate best to get one for themselves. Thus a community of people constantly wanting more lures many to join in the quest for more money and more things to buy. It’s a downward spiral of trying to earn more and wanting more.

If you are one of those people who actually own a lot of things, you may have experienced how one possession after another gets you neck-deep with things to worry about and maintain. Your house may be in a mess with all the clutter and you exert a great effort just to get things in order. You also worry too much about your toys that they may keep you awake at night. Also, the joys of getting the things that you bought do not last that long. After getting used to the new gadget, you’d move on to want a better one. You would never learn to stop buying stuff even if you knew that the happiness will be temporary.

Same thing happens with the things we do that distracts us from what we really have to do to live our lives to the fullest. We experience way too many distractions with the things we want to engage in only because others do it or others have it. We have multiple email accounts when one can do the job. We have Facebook, Google+, Twitter and everything else in between because other people have it also even if we may not really need them all.

Is there an alternative?

It is refreshing to find out that some people are promoting exactly the opposite. They call themselves minimalists. A minimalist, as they would tell you, owns only the essential things. They would only engage in activities that they think are important to them. They believe that less is more. When they become minimalists, they would try their hardest to free themselves of possessions they don’t need, stop the activities that do not enrich their lives and pursue the things that make them happy with less distractions and more focus.

A minimalist would never see his house cluttered with a lot of stuff. He would not even own a car if he can find a good enough public transportation. He does not eat more than what will nourish his body. He takes care of himself physically through exercise and a healthy diet. A minimalist doesn’t enjoy being on the couch watching TV all day long. He wouldn’t waste his time surfing the net just for the heck of it or checking all his social networking accounts and emails every minute for a chance of find anything interesting.

You might say that a minimalist actively opposes the consumer society that we have today. He is not just trying to resist the urge to own more but he purposely owns less by selling or giving away things he does not need. For those who made minimalism a way of life, they experienced lower stress, freedom from debt, less cleaning and maintaining while getting more room for their loved ones, doing the things they love to do, getting healthy and enjoying their lives more. Minimalism takes away the excesses of the world and counteracts the obsession of trying to own everything that we see. It makes life simpler, happier and lighter.

Will this work for me?

For me, minimalism remains an idea. Although I may have followed some of the principles of minimalism without knowing it, I have not actively made it a way of life. But as I learn more about it, minimalism has its appeal to me. I agree with almost all of what minimalists are doing and saying. They embody some of the principles that I live by and even some that I aspire I could follow but fail to do.
How about you, do you think minimalism makes sense? If not, what do you think is wrong with it? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
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