September 6, 2017

My Humble Journey toward Minimalism

Now I believe that you can find happiness in owning less.

And it all started with a book.

Whilst waiting for my friends at the shopping mall I headed to the bookstore to kill time. As I was wandering aimlessly through store, my attention was drawn to a book entitled ‘Goodbye, Things, On Minimalist Living’ by Fumio Sasaki. I instinctively picked it up and read through its introduction.

“Is there happiness in having less?”

It was this sentence that struck me. At that point of time, I was a fresh graduate, and just embarked on my legal career. Since I had started working, I realized that I was unhappy and most importantly, feeling discontent all the time.

I always wanted more. I felt like I deserved to be rewarded with things because I had worked hard and I naively thought that the desire to own more would serve as a positive motivation to work harder and go further. However, it turned out that my inability to own all the things I craved for frustrated me. Instead of being a positive motivation, my desires and greed caused me to constantly compare myself with other friends of mine, who earn more than I do. I was unhappy, living in a vicious cycle of comparison and jealousy.

Then, when I saw that sentence, I instantly decided to buy the book. At the bottom of my heart, I was hoping that this book could be the solution, the guidance, the breakthrough to my quandary. And this is how I was introduced to the concept of Minimalism.

Through this book, I was taught that by de-cluttering my possessions wisely and effectively and embracing the concept of Minimalism, positive changes will take place in my life, I will stop comparing myself with others and most importantly; I will be able discover my priorities in life.

I started going through my wardrobe, makeup kit, books, old CDs, and loads of old gifts from friends. I gave away all my clothes, lipstick, nail polishes (no matter how expensive they are), determined not to fall into the ‘I might use them someday’ fallacy again. I put my books up for sale in second hand online book stores (save for some of my favorites) and threw away all the old CDs and memorable gifts from friends after scanning and storing them digitally. And it doesn’t take long for me to realize all the changes that have taken place so swiftly and naturally in my life ever since I have started de-cluttering.

I have discovered that there are so few things that we actually need or add value to our lives and align with our priorities. Nowadays I only buy things that I need, that add value to my life. I can't deny that there are still moments where I have the impulsion to buy a certain piece of clothing, but the difference is now I will question myself about the purpose that item serves in my life. Whether the act of buying is out of greed or necessity. Usually after asking myself these questions, I will be able to walk past those boutiques without any regret or discontent, no longer viewing those things as temptations.

Ultimately, through Minimalism, I've learned that life is not a competition of owning more. It forces me to think about my priorities in life: to spend time with loved ones, live healthy, work hard, contribute, learn, and experience.

Published by Gan Boon Yi in Lifestyle

Photography by Normann Copenhagen

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