Minimalism seems to be a growing trend, possibly spurred on by the 2008 downturn in the economy. It left millions of people deeply in debt, surrounded by useless stuff, that was suddenly of little value, difficult to get rid of, and which wasn’t contributing to their happiness. In fact, it was doing just the opposite.
Aside from some of the hardcore experts, few people seem to accurately define Minimalism.
If you were to Google minimalism, the bulk of your hits will be centered on topics of an aesthetic style in art. While I do love the style, it’s not what we’re looking for. What we’re really interested in is defining a Minimalist Lifestyle.
In it’s essence the minimalist lifestyle is about getting rid of the extraneous. It’s about getting rid of anything that doesn’t relate directly to, and support those things most important to your life and your happiness.
I know some of you instantly struggle with this. How do you know what’s most important to your happiness? Is this another push for “following your passion?” No.
In order to know what’s most important to you, you can start by doing 2 things:
- Determine what your values are. This means asking yourself what you really, truly care about.
Don’t take this lightly. What has meaning to you should determine the path of your life. Every decision you make should be based on it. Too many people would spontaneously give answers like God, my family, financial success, but some introspection may reveal a clearer picture. Exploring the concept of personal values can be revealing and rewarding.
Once you have a sense of personal values, focus on them, and begin to remove anything from your life that doesn’t contribute to it.
The obvious response is to start getting rid of “stuff.” It’s a good start, but minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of stuff. It’s also about getting rid of ideas, activities, even relationships. It’s about directing the focus of your energy and resources to support your values, because aligning your life with your values is a sure step toward happiness.
Things, both material and otherwise, which don’t “fit into” this picture, can be a distraction. They may lead to frustration, and stop you from achieving a sense of purpose, and moving forward, which is vital to your happiness.
One last note on balance. While the bulk of your focus needs to be on those things most important to you, I have to add that this can lead to a parochial vision of life. A sort of myopic view of the world. I don’t believe you should completely ignore things not related to your key focus as an absolute.
P.S. Don’t forget to have fun today.