There are as many reasons to be a minimalist as there are people on the earth. While there are some that are more popular than others, reasons for becoming a minimalist are as diverse as the people who practice it.
Because I’m a classic introvert, I can react negatively, both psychologically and physiologically, when I’m with a crowd for a prolonged period of time or when I’m in an environment that’s untidy or unkempt.
After an hour or so in such an environment, I need to seek out a quieter and more isolated setting, sometimes by myself, in order to recharge. After about 15 minutes or so, I’m good to go again.
Add to this mix my empathic nature and I can become stressed without any apparent cause. It’s how I’m wired.
My top reasons for practicing minimalism are as follows:
Minimalism helps me control my environment and my reaction to it
This is probably the most important reason behind my choice to live as a minimalist. As I alluded to above, when I control my environments —such as my home or my office—I’m much less likely to experience a reaction. Reactions can include muscular unease, feeling antsy, and/or a generalized low-grade anxiety, etc. When I know I’m going into an environment where I’m likely to become triggered, I carry and apply some lavender oil on my wrists and the base of my neck. It sounds kind of woo-woo, but it works for me.
Plus, I like the way my home and office look with less stuff. They’re tidy and easier to clean, too. There is less furniture to shift when I vacuum, and there are hardly any surfaces to dust. Coworkers have often commented that my office just feels better than theirs. Yep, there’s a reason for that!
Minimalism keeps my clothing choices simple
I don’t want to devote much brain power to my clothing choices, but I do like experimenting with what I wear. For instance, I’m in the process of replacing my five (yes, just five) long-sleeved dress shirts for the office with five black, dress shirts. For weekends and workouts, I’ll obtain ten black t-shirts. Likewise, over the next few months, I’ll replace all my pants (I currently have 10 pairs of pants—and that feels like a lot now that I’ve typed it— three of which are black) with black jeans and casual slacks. This way, I don’t have to think about what to wear each day.
There have been some very cool ( and slightly famous) people who’ve adopted this practice — President Obama (a blue suit), the late Steve Jobs (black long-sleeved t-shirt), Joshua Becker of BecomingMinimalist.com (black t-shirt and khaki pants), Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook (gray t-shirt and blue jeans) …so I feel I’m in good company. It might be easier for men to pull this off, but there are some cool women who opt for this practice, including Kate Bedash who wore a fashionable black dress every day for a year, and Sheena Matheiken, who launched The Uniform Project.
Minimalism saves me money
Minimalist living can be thought of as curating one’s possessions. Like a museum curator carefully selecting the pieces for a display or show, a minimalist usually asks whether the item they are considering for purchase will bring them true value or whether it’s an impulse that will just satisfy a momentary desire; one of the many that-would-be-nice-to-have kinds of item. Can you imagine a museum having a bunch of impulse-buys on display? 😆
Curating my purchases has resulted in having fewer, but higher quality possessions. Since I only have five dress shirts, I can spend more on each one if I choose. But seriously, by purchasing less overall, I hang on to more discretionary income, with which I can pay down debt, invest in my future, or just leave in my account. As I tell my youngest son all the time, having money in the bank is a good thing.
Minimalism is a disciplined practice
Like meditation or yoga, minimalism is a practice. Any practice, whether it’s doing push-ups or painting, requires a disciplined approach. The more often you engage in your practice, the easier it becomes over time. Practicing minimalism has become second nature to me and I can’t imagine living any other way.
But as a practice, it’s a very personal choice. Just as I wouldn’t push anyone to adopt a meditation practice unless they felt it was right for them, similarly I wouldn’t impose my practice of minimalism on another. Just because it’s right for me, doesn’t mean it’s right for them.
Minimalism affords me the gift of freedom
Because I have less stuff, I enjoy the relative freedom to move about the world with ease. I don’t have a house full of stuff to deal with. Sure, I have some stuff around, but I could dispose of all my stuff in a few days if I had to. If I wanted to move to England for six months for the spring and summer, I could without much hesitation at all.
Minimalism affords me the ability to move at will, to shift cities if I want to, or countries if I so desire. It allows me to travel across the country with only a backpack as I did in 2016 (see below).
Minimalism is fun
OK, so to you it might sound more like deprivation than fun. I get that, but for me, minimalism has been a liberating experience. It set me on a path of simplicity, relative ease, and the ability to focus on what’s important. Minimalism has made my life much more meaningful and lots more enjoyable.
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