The essence of the minimalism movement is to own less stuff and thus simplify your life.
Sounds good. However, there are challenges with any major lifestyle change.
I don’t believe minimalism will work for everyone.
I suggest you do your research to understand if this is a good choice for you – the potential upside, and downside to simplifying.
Here are two sites I recommend for thought-provoking, and realistic minimalism information.
Most minimalism focuses only on the advantages or the disadvantages. In this article, I will give you a sample of the pros and cons of both staying where you, and of choosing minimalism.
First, a bit of my personal experience.
It began with my property settlement with my ex-wife a number of years ago. I chose to leave the house with her. The belongings I chose to take with me fit in a small car.
My new partner and I decided to live a simplified life. We rented furnished places as we traveled, carrying only the essentials in two backpacks.
We continue to live this way. Each time we return to Canada we review what we own and decide whether it is needed.
Today, our combined possessions fit into the back of a mini-van.
Ten years ago, I never dreamed I’d be living this lifestyle. I was after all, firmly entrenched in a middle-class, urban manner of living.
Yet, here I am.
I’m not suggesting you ‘should’ simplify the way I did or to the extent I have.
Do what works for you. Here are a few pros and cons to consider.
Using a middle-aged, middle-class man as an example…
Staying The Same As You Are (Good Ol’ Middle-Class Life)
- Let’s be honest, it can feel good to own stuff. There is a ‘high’ associated with the having the latest technology, new furniture, or a bigger house. Instant gratification can be appealing – gets the dopamine and serotonin pumping.
- Society teaches more is better – the more we buy, the more we fit in. It’s a good comparison tool – measuring stick – to see how successful we are.
- Supports the belief “I consume, therefore I am…” alive, successful – take your pick.
- Contributes to economic growth.
- Constant financial drain; can increase debt.
- Ongoing maintenance of goods, upgrades, and with it comes along financial and associated stress and worry, and don’t forget ‘mind clutter’.
- Energy, time, money is spread thin.
- We have a tendency to fill the space we have, which results in either a ‘full house’ or requiring a larger space. Continuing cycle of growth…
- More stuff we have the more tied down we are; the more cumbersome it is to move.
- Studies show cluttered space is a strain on our brain… feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and helpless (stuck).
- A biggie: Won’t fit in with societal norms. We may encounter pushback from family and friends, have less in common, and some relationships may fade away – your choice or theirs. May end up seeking a different set of friends, community, with a like-minded lifestyle.
- Possibly experience the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) – not having: a new model car, latest iPhone, etc.
- Can increase your sense of attachment for the objects and relationships remaining in your life (white-knuckle syndrome).
- Will your methods of distraction and instant gratification shift from owning stuff to browsing the web, binging on Netflix and YouTube?
- It won’t be easy. It will take time and energy to downsize, figure out what you want to keep vs. purge (finding the balance).
- You may find yourself swapping one form of self-comparison for another – still trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’s – other minimalists.
- Mistakes will be made… ‘Damn, I shouldn’t have gotten rid of X’… Can lead to discouragement and less motivation to continue.
- Cry out – “Freedom!!!” You will have more time, energy and money to spend on relationships, places, and activities that bring joy, fulfillment, and are of interest.
- More money: for whatever you want – higher quality food, pay down debt, more experiences, etc.
- Less maintenance of goods and upgrades – less financial and associated stress/worry (quiet the mind chatter).
- Require less space to live, could downsize your accommodation.
- Easier to physically move when you own less stuff.
- Studies show uncluttered space is psychologically beneficial.
- By exercising a mindset of thinking about your next purchase – total cost of ownership, long-term effects, do I really need it, can I get it used – instead of reacting impulsively, you develop self-empowerment and self-control.
- Can be done over a period of time, at your pace and comfort level… slowly working towards your goals.
- Builds self-confidence: successfully implementing a major lifestyle change builds confidence to take on other life-changing choices.
- Mindset shift from reducing (what I don’t have – negative), to expansion and growth (focusing on the things you want – positive).
- The things you want less of will naturally fall away, and/or will be easier to de-attach from.
May your decision be in your best long-term interests, and well-being.
Watch the video below for a slightly different approach when considering minimalism.
I write to inspire men to greater self-awareness, to make authentic choices, and to enhance their emotional well-being.
I am the author of the unique personal development novel entitled, The Shift Squad.
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