My Journey Towards Minimalism
I developed an interesting relationship with possessions very early on. War broke out then we had our apartment and possessions seized. Reduced down to having only a few items neatly stuffed in whatever plastic bag that was around, I became increasingly aware of my possessions. We experienced similar circumstances few years later after a disastrous fire took hold of the building we were living in. It’s a painful process because you have to keep fighting to create a homely environment with possessions that serve a functional purpose. It’s also no surprise that I love mobility and don’t mind my lack of permanent roots.
As I look back, it’s obvious to see that all those life events have helped shape me. I believe that we are not only shaped by our genes and upbringing, but also places we occupy, people we interact with and all those moments we experience. It’s led me to embrace living more intuitively. I also learned a valuable lesson that life can change in an instant. This instant could be a natural disaster or a spontaneous decision. For me, living with less is a symbol of freedom, mobility and flexibility to adjust and thrive despite any circumstances.
Why a minimalist lifestyle?
Inconsistency in attitudes causes a motivational state know as dissonance. The individual is motivated to act in a way that decreases the disequilibrium and tension associated with this dissonance. – Leon Festinger on Dissonance Theory
I love being surrounded by things that are light and visually appealing, furniture that is quiet, restful and unnoticed. I hate clutter and things that crowd my space. I crave simplicity because it helps me move through life easier, yet I accumulate things and life events without noticing only to have to deal with them at a later time. How we live doesn’t always align with our thoughts and beliefs or attitudes and as a result we experience discomfort, this is referred to as cognitive dissonance. For instance, I hated dumping all the green waste, but hadn’t actually taken the time to start composting. I’ve come to realize that embracing a minimalist lifestyle is a perspective from which to draw guidance from.
My path to a minimalist lifestyle started with trying to figure out what I was after to help me achieve balance. I wanted to live with less. I was craving simplicity, but not the type of stripped down simplicity that would require me to live in a cabin. Although a cabin at the edge of the world would be nice occasionally, I’ve lived without electricity and running water and let me just say having to hand-wash clothes in below zero temperatures is no one’s idea of living simply. With simplifying I want to calibrate, declutter my mind, get rid of the noise, unnecessary complications and gain time.
My minimalist approach
“Lífspeki is an Icelandic word that means ‘the practical philosophy by which you live your life, which you define through your actions.’ There is that which we believe in and that which we do; what do my actions show about my beliefs.” – Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle
When I say becoming a minimalist and having a”simple life,” I mean fostering a connection between our dwellings and spaces, living more intuitively, having better relationships, owning less, consuming less and wasting less. There is a difference between the acquisition of objects that meet our specific needs and getting sucked into a cycle in which buying one item leads to acquiring more new things, also called the Diderot Effect. This is what happens when we go in to buy a sofa and come home with new side tables, a lamp and fake flowers to match the sofa. We buy furniture for storing our possessions rather than functionality.
The beautiful complexity of a minimalist approach is that the benefits don’t stop with us, they spill over into other dimensions. How we organize our dwellings, how we consume, how we use our time, how we relate to others feeds into sustainability, health and mind.