By Catherine Taylor
“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.”– Richard Holloway.
In a world saturated by social media influencers, marketing ploys and Instagram advertising, a select few have chosen to live their lives in a radically different manner to the rest of the general population. Minimalism, a rejection of materialism and unnecessary possessions, is the new millennial lifestyle fad. So, what exactly is modern minimalism, and how can its principles impact our everyday lives?
Minimalism as a lifestyle is primarily concerned with possessions; or essentially, a lack thereof. According to Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, whose blog, “The Minimalists” navigates the dos and don’ts of the practice: “Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous in your life.”
They say that money can’t buy happiness, and this much is true. Though great wealth and luxury possessions may lead to short-term happiness, in the long run, are we really better off when we define ourselves using the external, rather than focusing on our internal world? Psychologists would answer that question with a resounding “no.” This is where minimalism becomes, for many, a route to a clutter-free existence. For modern minimalists, freeing one’s external space (be it a house, a bedroom or even a desk or workspace) from clutter ultimately leads to a healthier state of mind.
But minimalism isn’t just good for your head; it also lightens the load on your purse strings. Naturally, practicing modern minimalism means that you shop smarter, not harder. Every purchase is carefully thought-out; the item bought by a minimalist is usually a living necessity. This means that as a minimalist, you save a lot of money. Cutting out unnecessary shopping means that modern minimalists have more money to spend on experiences rather than possessions, which can lead to a happier life. Minimalism relies on the theory that experiences, and memories, can satisfy us in the long-term, in ways that accumulating things in the short-term cannot.
There are, undoubtedly, some pitfalls to minimalism that discourage others from joining the “less-is-more” movement. These are aggravated by millennial visions of minimalism, particularly on social media. When we think minimalism, often a vision of a clean, tidy, impossibly white and modestly decorated home comes to mind. This vision of the perfect minimalistic house on Instagram is a lie; or at the very least, an exaggeration. For many modern minimalists living paycheque to paycheque, minimalism means a house that is sparsely decorated; spaces like these can look dull and uninviting. This may be problematic for those who take pride in a well-decorated living space, or those who enjoy the fusses, frills and finer things life has to offer.
There are ways we can incorporate minimalistic practices, however, without becoming a full-blown minimalist, living with only the bare essentials. Here are a few tips for taking the best of the minimalist lifestyle and making it your own:
Clean out your closet.
Clearing out unworn or threadbare clothing that has been accumulating in your wardrobe for months, even years, is the best way to incorporate minimalism into your daily life. If you stare at mountains of clothes every morning and still feel that you have nothing to wear, it’s time to pull a Marie Kondo and invoke the “spark joy” rule. Does this item of clothing make you feel good? Do you wear it often? If yes, keep. If no, dispose of it promptly.
Invoke the 90/90 Rule.
On their blog, The Minimalists advise that the 90/90 Rule can help people in attempting to declutter their living space. The 90/90 Rule is simple: when deciding whether to chuck out or keep a possession, ask yourself two questions. The first: Have you used this item in the last 90 days? The second: If you haven’t, will you use it in the next 90? If not, then it’s time to let it go.
Be mindful of your shopping habits.
It can be easy to get carried away when money suddenly comes your way. Whether you’ve been waiting all month for a paycheque or for SUSI, many of us tend to go a little crazy as soon as we find ourselves with more cash than usual. You too can reap the benefits of minimalism if you resist the urge to spend all your money at once come payday. Keep track of your spending with a banking app, or alternatively, download a money manager from the app store to hold you accountable for all expenses.
While modern minimalism may not be for everyone, the lifestyle certainly promotes many positive and efficient habits. Just how minimalistic you decide to become this new year is, however, entirely up to you.