Archives for October 2017
How to explain Minimalism to the people you love the most.
If you've embraced the idea of simple living and the concept of Minimalism, you will invariably run into a few bumps along the road. It's possible that the people closest to you may feel unsettled with the changes you make.
I have a very supportive family, and yet, none of them have embraced minimalism (yet). As I continue to streamline my schedule, our home, and our commitments, I drive the changes. They pretty much just put up with my shenanigans. I hope that one day they will live with less, but I know I can't make that decision for them or push it on them.
If your family jumps on board with your changes and participates in your journey towards a simpler life, that's awesome! For those of us going it alone, it can be helpful to be prepared for some push back from family and friends, and to know what to do when this happens.
The concern manifests itself in casual comments.
“Pretty soon we'll have nothing left but an empty house.”
“Do we still have that, or did you get rid of it?”
While these comments seem harmless on the surface, they offer clues about how scary change can be for the people around us. Here are some ways to navigate the concerns that come your way when you choose to simplify your life.
The All About Me Mentality
When people we love react negatively to change, understand that it's really all about them. Everyone reacts to experiences from their own perception and their own reality, not yours. They may wonder how your changes will affect them, their relationship with you, and your future together. They may feel like there's no place for them in your new life. They can disagree with you or feel envious of you.
We feel safe with what is familiar. When that changes, people can feel uncertain.
Keep Calm and Explain Your Perspective
Our first reaction when a family member or friend contradicts us is to justify our actions. We want them to understand and agree with our perspective. We can see the positive impact minimalism is having on us, and we think they do too. But don't assume that people understand or agree with your reasons for simplifying. What is obvious to you may not be to others.
You are changing your spending habits in order to have more financial freedom. But your spouse may think you are trying to control his spending. You donate unneeded items from your home, and your spouse believes you don't value how hard he works to buy the things you have.
They may not get it. Stay calm and plainly state your reasons for embracing minimalism.
Love and Reassure
It's important to show your love for family and friends, and reassure them in the way they need to be reassured. Even though I thought my husband knew why I was incorporating minimalism into my life, he needed reassurance that the changes would benefit our relationship rather than detract from it. He needed to hear this out loud from me. We needed to have that conversation, and he needed me to tell him flat out.
“I'm not phasing you out of my life. I'm doing this so I can have more time for you and to be happier.”
Remember, fear from others is a signal you're growing. Embrace the growth, and do your part to help the people around you embrace it as well.
Learning to live a simple joyful life.
What is Minimalism? What does it mean ‘to be a minimalist’? Having fewer possessions? Paying attention to what is important? Or perhaps starting a journey of self-discovery? There are of course many answers to these questions. My story with minimalism started after reading Marie Kondo’s book—The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up—about decluttering and organizing one’s home. It felt like I was granted a permission to get rid of all the stuff I didn’t need, but was holding on to for years.
So I went for it: bags of clothing, shoes, books, home decorations. As several storage pieces of furniture became empty, they went too. Structural changes came next as more room allowed making our tiny apartment more homely and the use of space more efficient. This initial stage left me feeling liberated, excited, intrigued.
Then I started paying attention to what I like to keep. Incidentally, I noticed that white color made me feel comfortable and calm. White tops and shirts, white bedsheets, white bathroom curtains and mats, white walls with no pictures. Having fewer colors in my surroundings and wardrobe strangely made my life simpler and I felt happier. Is simplicity a path to becoming a minimalist?
Minimalism is not just about having less stuff, it's a lifestyle. Not keeping stashes of spares, traveling light, conscious shopping, paying attention to what’s important in life—this is where the line between things we have and the ways we behave becomes blurred. Having less stuff suddenly gained new meanings: not holding on to the past, not being afraid of the future, and creating space for my own choices. This desire to lead simple and de-cluttered life eventually led me to a few deeper questions:
“What is important? What do I love? And what do I want my life to be like?”
And so, my discovery of the true meaning of Minimalism still goes on. Do I buy less? I can confidently say that I am not afraid of letting go. Yet, when it comes to buying, I would say that I am still on the journey of exploring myself as a minimalist.
It’s less about product usage & more about product volume.
The main focus around the collective minimalism movement has been on the benefits that it can bring the individual. A clearer outlook, stronger relationships, and greater freedom both financially and mentally. Undoubtedly, these are welcome consequences of buying fewer things, however I believe that the environmental benefits are being overlooked.
In order for climate change to be slowed enough to prevent the cataclysmic consequences, lifestyles need to be changed in developed countries. Simply switching to a low energy light bulb and turning the tap off while you brush your teeth isn’t going to cut it. Drastic changes need to be made in how we conduct our everyday lives.
Take for example, the fact that when measuring their carbon footprint, Apple estimate that only 17% is taken up by product usage, with 77% being made up of manufacturing. The lesson that should be taken from this is that if you want to minimize your personal carbon footprint, the key is not to use your electronic devices less, but just buy fewer of them.
This same principle can be applied to most products you buy, which have most likely been shipped from half way across the world, meaning that whilst the clothes you buy every other week from H&M don’t emit carbon dioxide directly, indirectly your purchasing them is damaging the environment.
If further evidence is needed, take the greenhouse gases that are emitted by a transatlantic flight. According to research from Environmental Research Letters, avoiding one roundtrip transatlantic flight reduces your emissions by a greater amount than switching to an electric car and recycling combined.
To simplify, buying more things, with some exceptions (i.e. solar panels) will mean you are increasing your carbon footprint. Minimalism encourages buying less and being less compelled by the consumer culture that surrounds us. Therefore, even if it is not the main objective, minimalism helps to reduce our impact on the environment, and I believe this is an idea that should be further emphasized in the discussion of minimalism.