Imagine yourself 5 or 10 years in an optimistic future. The question is: what do you see?
Many people say, “With a new car”, “A bigger house”, “many things in my kitchen”, “With new clothes”. Some might dream “with a giant and rich company, travelling to Miami on my private plane drinking cocktail and with many girls around me”, or maybe you said,” with my family and friends …”. But when you imagine it with your family and friends, do you imagine in a small house or in a motorhome without decoration?
Let me ask you another question: how many clothes, shoes, and objects do you have in your house that you rarely use or do not use at all? So that’s the point!
In our days, with so many ads on the street, movies, internet, TV, and newspapers, along with our natural human desires and impulse of “The more I have the more I want”, our society adopted a “consumerism mindset“. And this has many consequences…
A few days ago, I talked to an old friend and he said that he missed the old times when we were just kids when we just played at school and we had fewer concerns. That’s very common!
Many people think the same thing when life becomes too complicated. However, the problem may be that we make our lives more complex than they are when we practice the consumerism lifestyle established on our days.
One of the definitions we find for the word Consumerism is “the fact or practice of increasing consumption of goods”. In other words, the more you buy, the more you want to buy.
Why do we buy? First, because we think we need something. Second, because that gives us pleasure and/or Status. The problem starts when you buy because you “need” the pleasure or status that the object gives you but not the object itself. That makes you blind to the difference between need and luxury (or garbage).
At that point, people begin to subtly and unconsciously devalue some things they have and overestimate things they see on the mall or in online markets. We start losing values and this brings us many consequences.
We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” Fight Club
Many of these consequences can be seen in our society, for example:
- Label people based on what they have and not who they are
- Live every day focused in goals and objectives like “Buy this” or “have that” instead of really living our lives, try new experiences, love people, discover what you really like to do, etc…
- Worrying too much about what others think about you (Social Pressure)
- Seeking satisfaction in a material desire after another, which leads to feeling a great emptiness at the end of the day
- High financial, emotional and psychological burden (All this burden is usually totally unnecessary)
- Focus on ostentation
- Temporary enjoyment (may become vice), very similar to drug use or addictive content such as Pornography
- Decreased affinity in relationships, harming them dramatically
- Financial, emotional and psychological breakdown (Example: Depression, indebtedness, anxiety, stress, nerve attacks, etc …)
Some of these consequences take time to become perceptible…
“For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.” Niccolo Machiavelli
But how can we avoid this? How can we live our lives with comfort, happiness, stability, freedom, etc… Without so many things on the market to purchase? The answer is minimalism.
Minimalism’s not a rule, law, a certain social class (poor or rich) or a hippie thing.
It is not walking around all messy, without cutting your hair, having your beard unfinished, not taking showers and being a bum. We don’t have to stop buying and consuming things that we need or that significantly increase our comfort.
Minimalism is not to deprive us of good things, has nothing to do with political ideologies (Capitalism, Communism, Socialism), nor does it directly affect any of them. It’s just a lifestyle, a philosophy, or a mindset.
What is minimalism after all
Many of us experience this lifestyle during childhood when we are more concerned about learning more and spending time with friends than spending time in shops and websites buying things.
- Conscious consumption;
- Free me from excess;
- Spend wisely (invest more in Usability then quality and not in Status);
- Have a purpose for everything that is in my wardrobe, mobile phone, home, etc …
- Really giving use to each of the things that belong to me;
- Consume to live instead of live to consume
- Minimalism is the Art of being more, having less
“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”
No one invented minimalism, they just gave a name to a lifestyle that already existed for a long time. For example, we can mention people like Steve Jobs, Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, Socrates, Mark Zuckerberg and Marco Aurelio who practised this lifestyle.
In Minimalism the money we save on unnecessary things can be spent on better options like travelling, restaurants, healthy foods, physical exercise, courses, education of children, martial arts, etc… Because the most important things in life are not things.
Plato already said that material goods corrupt the soul, and this deviates us from our goals, distorts our walk and corrupts our principles. Thus, material goods only generate interference in this process.
Benefits of a minimalist life
There are many people who tried this new way of life like Ryan Nicodemus (ex-advertiser), Joshua Millburn, (ex-businessman), Tammy Strobel (writer and photographer), Colin Wright (Traveler who runs the world), and many other people… Here are some benefits mentioned by these people:
- Ecological benefits (the current consumerism of our society is unsustainable)
- It’s a healthier lifestyle
- More Freedom (we are not stuck with things like houses, cars, etc …)
- Living of life and not of consumption
- Tranquillity because there is no indebtedness
- Living in the lifestyle we really want …
- When we have less, we get to understand better, to master better and to enjoy fully what we have, and things are not so disposable
- Allows more happiness and lightness
- All we have serves a real purpose
- It allows us to value people, time, life, experiences, and even … things, better
- We are more aware of how we are using our life and wallet
- Makes us more real and less superficial
- Living life smarter
- Helps us to be better people instead of a person with a better material good
- Investing in experiences, skills, other people, the value in society
- We buy what really makes our life more comfortable
Minimalism and the Society
Some people think that minimalism is an anti-capitalism philosophy, but the truth is that minimalism is not about left or right, communism or capitalism. It is just the way I live my own life.
The gears that move capitalism remain untouched or even improved because some studies say that 20% of the price of the things we buy reflects the real value of a product (Quality and production), the other 80% reflects a status value (Brand, appearance, etc …). So, because of that, there are minimalists that think that in a minimalist society, companies would have to lower prices and increase the quality of their products. It would be more difficult to have extremely powerful companies and large monopolies.
This society would be more focused on improving its capabilities than consuming. We would possibly evolve faster because we would have more qualified people, more culture and more diversity of knowledge. Companies that produce financial things for huge prices would be much smaller and irrelevant in the marketplace. The focus of the companies would be things that really serve the society and we’d be less mass of manoeuvre.
How can I be a Minimalist?
There’s no secret formula for being minimalist.
For ages, humans found many ways to adopt this way of life, some through the church, religion and philosophy, other just by seeing people trying. You can be a minimalist just with your clothes or with your entire life. You can do it using techniques like the “project 333” or just by making many questions to yourself before any buy you will make, or even doing it all… you decide.
Try it! Maybe your life will be changed too.