My mother once called me a minimalist. I found that idea a bit ridiculous, mostly because I have been all around the United States and I know people who sleep on towels, a few by choice. One of the clearest definitions of a minimalist is someone who has less than 100 items. I definitely own more than that, however, I do believe it fits well below the average 300,000 items owned in the American household. This includes everything from push pins and paper clips to cars. The push pins I have put my item ownership well over 100 items alone. We cannot blame overspending on only push pins though, spending has increased across almost every category in the US. So do minimalists honestly only own a few clothes and maybe some utensils? What is a minimalist?
To be honest, if the requirement to be a minimalist is to own less than 100 items, I will never be a minimalist. Even buying a box of push pins to organize my office would put me over. Instead, I would like to propose that a minimalist is someone who aims to not take pride in consumption and owns with the intention of practicality. In other words, most if not everything you own has some useful purpose. Based off this definition, I am a minimalist, but less of one than some others. In this post I will explain how to best turn to minimalism and what I learned from trying to minimize what I buy
What Instantly Turns Most People Off From Minimalism?
There is one singular thing that I see that prevents people from becoming minimalists, decor. From posters to golden picture frames, it is hard to find someone without a little decorative style. Can you honestly say what you use for decoration has any practical purpose. It is hard to justify decor, yet we all want some “unique style” brought to you from some mass producer or style magazine.
I do not own much when it comes to decor. The few things I have for decor are gifts. I do not even have anything decorative at my desk at work. Some people have pointed that out and jokingly asked me if I was a psychopath. America, quite literally to your rules, overspending on decor (something that is throwing money away) is far more sane than not overspending on decor and instead saving your money for something practical. How can we justify that?
There is only one time I would say that decor may be practical. That is at a business in areas for customers. The decor can produce a calming sense that makes meetings and sales easier. These are even done in healthcare facilities to ease the loved ones of patients and sometimes, the patients, and also to improve quality of the healthcare itself. Personal decor is almost completely impractical.
How To Become A Minimalist
First, you must de-clutter your life. Throw out what you do not need. You already know what you do not need so do not complicate it with what everyone says like “throw out what does not make you happy” or “does it bring you joy?” You’re either in for being a minimalist or you are not. There are no half-measures when it comes to de-cluttering.
After you de-clutter your life, you will see what you actually need and what you do not need. You need to spend money on only what you need and avoid what you do not need. As soon as you tip the balances, you are no longer a minimalist. Minimalism is not a goal, but a journey.
Truth is, it is easier to be a follower of minimalism than consumerism. It requires less physical effort because you will shop less, mental effort because you will have to make fewer decisions on what to buy, and emotional effort because you will not be weighed down by trying to keep up with others. Consumerism is not a natural state, humans are designed to minimize energy usage and consumerism requires energy. Consumerism is an addiction, and minimalism to any extent is the treatment.
What You Can Learn Being A Minimalist
1) You do not need that much
I have previously stated in many posts that humans have three needs: food, water, and shelter. Everything else is not necessary to live. I learned this through some survival courses. Once, I built a shelter out of sticks and ferns that survived a severe thunderstorm and kept me dry.
2) Almost everything has multiple uses
There are two things I learned from my survival courses. The first is to have a knife handy at anytime you are allowed. Knives can be used for just about everything. The second is that everything has multiple uses. For example, I have used my keys to open many containers like I would if I was allowed to carry a knife at school.
What’s the point of this? You do not need to own multiple items for specialized purposes. I may be guilty of this as I have some utensils and cookware for special purposes, some of which I rarely use. One of the best examples is a frying pan that is 8 inches in diameter. Not only do I not use this often, but the special size makes it useless for many purposes. Thankfully most of these utensils were hand-me-downs or gifts and I have not spent much on cookware.
3) You Have More Control Over Fewer Things Than You Ever Could With More Things
I have mentioned how most Americans have an issue with clutter. Instead of dealing with the core issues of clutter, most Americans solve this issue with storage units instead of trying to prioritize their spending. The clutter causes mental issues, probably because of the feeling of a lack of control.
I feel like I obtained the feeling that I do not need too much from my parents. My parents took me throughout the United States and Canada and they always told me to travel light. I never went around with anything more than 5 outfits including swim suits. It showed me how little I needed clothing wise and although I enjoy a good outfit as much as the next, I certainly spend less than $1,700 annually on cloths among my family. I think the missus and I spend less than $400. I do not see the point in owning anymore than 1 weeks worth of clothes and certainly not for things I know I will never wear. Me and the missus’s closet and drawers are pretty organized and everything else is pretty organized.
Ask any organization how they work. They make sure everyone only takes care of a few matters. It is not one person trying to command multitudes of people, but people commanding people who command people. You must organize your life, and that means having fewer things to take care of, including possessions.
4) Most Of What You Care About Is Worthless
In a previous post I explained how most of the signs of “high class” like boats, large houses, and fast cars will never be fully used. In fact, most of the “high class” items are worthless. I may have tried food from all across the nation, but I feel little point in eating truffles or caviar. In fact, most of the “rich people food” was “peasant food” hardly more than a few decades ago. I once read that in the early 1900s US prisoners complained about having lobster served to them more than 3 times a week. Every time I think about that I feel like a man dying of thirst being asked to save a man from drowning. Granted many of these items are now “rich people food” because they were eaten near extinction, but that just shows that rich people culture right now and has always been a fad.
5) You Will Focus On Quality Over Quantity
This is a simple one, but if you own fewer things, you will try to maintain what you have better. For instance, you would have higher quality clothes all around instead of getting more of something that will disintegrate within a few months. A good set of shoes will last longer than several low quality shoes. Furthermore, if you only own so many cars instead of one more than needed, you will notice that you will have high quality tires to put on the road among other things.
6) Nothing Matters As Much As Memories In Your Head
I was not kidding about golden picture frames, people actually buy those. Why? Because they want to put those memories on display in excellent fashion. I do not understand why people feel like they need pictures of their best memories on display for everyone. To be clear, I am not saying that pictures are worthless, but that people go to extreme lengths to display them. No one cares about your trip to Hawaii, not unless you are taking the picture on a cliff edge with a perfect image of the sun reflected from a body of water (extreme sarcasm notice, those are not original).
Instead of displaying all of your memories and paying for picture frames, keep the memories in your head. No one needs to actually see evidence of where you have gone or what you have done. “But I want to prove to everyone what I did?” Why? So you can shove your lifestyle in their faces like every reality TV show? Ask yourself this, do you like being compared to a reality TV show? If not, change your mindset about having too many pictures.
7) You Will Enjoy The Little Things
Can you imagine the last time you just enjoyed doing something that was not extraordinary? For many people, they cannot imagine doing anything fun for free or cheap. In fact, some people say that they cannot imagine going out and having fun without spending money, or even a certain amount.
I do not need to spend money to have a good time with my wife. We enjoy going on walks. We do enjoy going out, but not for the sake of spending money.
Truth is, I aim to be a minimalist, but not a strict one. I do not see myself trying to control what I buy to extremes, but I do not want to own anything unless I can actually find use for it. There are many things I own that will help me in which a strict minimalist would never own including cars or anything more than a computer. I intend to own certain items to follow some of the hobbies I love, to start more businesses, and produce intellectual properties. I will likely have to own multiple items that will prevent me from being a strict minimalist.
The main way to become a minimalist is to let go of your pride. You will have to accept you wasted money on things you will not use and let go of trying to impress strangers. However, pride is useless without anything to back it up. Trying to purchase items to build your pride is trying to show you have money while truth is you do not. That is the useless pride. Trying to build assets in which will forge your wealth for you and your family is true pride. Knowing the difference will help you to aim to become a minimalist to forge your wealth.