Yesterday's post about money got me thinking about frugal living and the concept of minimalism. Minimalism is a scary concept to many people; conjuring visions of living in a very constrained fashion. However, instead of thinking of minimalism as privation, what if we considered it to be freedom?
Some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about minimalism and living the minimalist life, for those new to the concept, from Leo Babauta's excellent blog mnmlist (reprinted with permission!):
Q: Why be a minimalist?
A: It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.
Q: Isn’t minimalism boring or too sparse, with nothing in your life?
A: This is a misconception about minimalism — that it’s necessarily monk-like, empty, boring, sterile. Not at all. Well, it can be, if you go in that direction, but I don’t advocate that flavor of minimalism. Instead, we are clearing away all but the most essential things — to make room for that which gives us the most joy. Clear away the distractions so we can create something incredible. Clear away all the obligations so we can spend time with loved ones. Clear away the noise so we can concentrate on inner peace, on spirituality (if we wish), on our thinking. As a result, there is more happiness, peace, and joy, because we’ve made room for these things.
Q: What is minimalist living?
A: It’s simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.
Q: What are the benefits of minimalism?
A: There are many. It’s lower in stress. It’s less expensive and less debt. It’s less cleaning and maintaining. It’s more enjoyable. There’s more room for creating, for loved ones, for peace, for doing the things that give you joy. There’s more time for getting healthy. It’s more sustainable. It’s easier to organize. These are only the start.
Interested in pursuing minimalism? Leo's blog is a great place to start. If you're interested in a challenge, try his 100 Things Challenge (now become the 50 Things Challenge) to list all of your belongings, and then reduce them to only 100 (or 50!) things. I personally find it easy to get rid of tchotchkes, clothes, and furniture. I find it exceptionally difficult to stop hoarding books, though…
If you're looking for an adventure that will definitely change your life, mix it up, and try minimalism!
(I am a huge fan of Leo's work, but am not affiliated with his sites or publishers!)