Minimalism is scary. Giving up all of your stuff? What if I need that later? It’s easy to see it as survivalism, getting by on the bare minimum you need to survive. In reality, its the opposite, getting rid of the things that kept you from truly living, and I’m going to tell you how.
When I mention that I sold off all of my earthly possessions aside from what would fit in a tiny carry-on bag so I could travel the world freely, I get a wide mix of responses. The two most common are “I wish I could do that!” and “I am so jealous!”
As for the people who say they wish they could do what I do, I let them know that I’m not doing anything special, and I even wrote a step-by-step guide for people who want to travel the world for free. Thousands of people have read it from all walks of life, and the stories I’ve heard from people finally taking dream vacations they thought they could never afford is astounding. I’m truly happy for them and humbled by how quickly they pull together trips they never thought were possible without spending a fortune.
When someone says they are jealous, I just feel uncomfortable. What are they trying to say, aside from just spilling negativity all over the floor? It’s taken a while, but I’ve slowly ascertained what people mean when they say this. The fact that I’m doing so much work to live my dream life makes them uncomfortable about their laziness. They feel bad, and they want me to feel bad, too. I usually just laugh and let these people know anybody can do it, at which point they don’t believe me and go back to their comfortable sloth. It’s not the best solution, but it is functional, and I’m still working on it.
Being minimalist isn’t a competition. There is no magic number of things you need to have that will make you happy. You shouldn’t even care how many things you have, as long as they don’t slow you down and you can still do everything that you want. You aren’t trying to “win” anything, aside from the freedom lack of clutter (in both possessions and mind) gives you.
The reason to be minimalist is the philosophy.
If you go to Baskin Robbins to get ice cream, you have dozens of options. The whole point is that there are so many options it’s ludicrous. The line takes forever because each person tastes a half-dozen choices, then slowly (and fairly randomly) picks one from them. When you have a huge amount of choices, the brain short-circuits and takes forever to make a decision. When it comes down to it, you likely aren’t any happier with your ice cream selection than if you told the server to pick a flavor at random.
Choices are a luxury, and should be treated as such. Every now and then it’s fun to get food with friends, narrowing down where you will go from the near-infinite list of restaurants in your area, weighing the pros and cons of each one while talking about past experiences. You work together and figure out which place to visit, and when you arrive, the process starts all over again as you narrow down your options from the hundreds on the menu.
In the end, you are just as happy as if you went to a restaurant that only had one item on the menu, and now you’ve spent a long time just deciding and getting hungrier. In fact, you would likely tell your friends about the amazing restaurant that has such huge faith in their specific dish that they didn’t even let you choose.
This is the exact philosophy behind minimalism. Cut out all of the extraneous choices in your life that you waste time and brainpower on, and suddenly you have more time and focus for the things that truly make you happy.
Narrow down your daily meal options to a few healthy things you know you like and eat them every week. It will improve your mood, budget, health, and give you far more time every day that you would normally spend just deciding something that in the end, doesn’t matter. You can still splurge your time on occasion by treating the decision as the luxury that it is, and enjoy every second of it with friends instead of exhausting your brain by doing it over and over every day.
By removing the excess options from your life, you reclaim your time for the things in your life that really matter. By getting rid of your massive apartment, you no longer have to worry about maintaining all of that stuff. You are free to travel and live anywhere, which, even with flights and hotels, is far cheaper than paying for storage space and an apartment every month. You am free to work on projects anywhere in the world without having to worry about how you’re going to make my mortgage and car payments, because you don’t have them.
Find what works best for you, then try a little less. Repeat.
I take minimalism to a more extreme degree than most, because it has worked so well for me. Minimalism is a philosophy that can be applied to many different areas of your life, helping you focus on what really matters to the degree that makes sense for you. Get a smaller apartment and you will spend less time maintaining things you never use. Stop hanging out with people who drain your time and emotions and you will spend more time with the friends that make you feel amazing. Stop buying random impulse purchases and junk food all of the time and you will have more space, better health, and far more money.
Spending all of your money on trinkets you never use, then spending more money on having space to keep them and maintain them? Living paycheck to paycheck because of it? That’s survivalism. It’s barely surviving, at that. The things you own end up owning you. Getting rid of all of the crap in your house so you can travel the world and take the opportunities that make you truly happy? That’s freedom.
Minimalism can be summed up in the following sentence: Say “No” to as many little things as possible, so you are free to say “Hell Yeah!” when something that will make you truly happy comes along.
Travel is important to me, and I trimmed the clutter that kept me from it. You may not know what is truly important in your life, but I can guarantee that if you start cutting away the clutter in your life, you will quickly discover what it is.
It’s all that’s left.
So say “Hell Yeah!” to it.