So excited to bring this first article to you ! Minimalism is a large part of my life and I hope you'll benefit from reading what I have to say about it.
What is it ?¶
The minimalist definition of minimalism is the practice of stripping things down to the essentials. Because what is essential is very subjective there is no universal definition to qualify someone / something as minimalist. Minimalism is a matter of perspective.
My definition of being minimalist:
Do you see like me that we always need more ? We never feel fulfilled. Different societal pressures and contemporary tendencies makes us like that.
For me being minimalist is taking a few steps back about all this madness. It first starts by realizing how wonderful small things are, like simple moments with family, walks in nature or good food. Being able to enjoy simplicity is a good first step to become minimalist.
Secondly it is asking about everything you want to do or have "Do I really need that one more thing to be happy ? Is it going to add value to my life ?" and finally looking at everything you already have or do and ask the same questions, getting rid of it if necessary.
Now it is important to notice that being minimalist is not about answering "no" as much as possible to those questions. It's just about asking with sincerity and good will. And it's even more important to know when to answer "yes". Like sport or any new habit you take it is tempting to go extreme about it as soon as you see the first results. By doing that with minimalism you might end up missing many opportunities and then regret it afterward. But when you get sharp at saying yes, when you find that sweet spot you can start to feel long term benefits.
"simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
People (maybe you) would ask "Why would I give up what I have ?" or "Why not doing something if I can ?"
Because it brings many boons:
Everything gets more intense :
Since I only let myself have something when I really need it, I feel truely happy when I have it. If it's an experience I live every bits of it, if it's an item having it truely benefits me and because I keep all my resources for what really matters I can have high quality if needed:
Think of chocolate: if you eat enough chocolate at some point it's going to become an insignificant instant reward that you will forget about within a minute. And you'll never be excited or remember about chocolate. But if you ask "Do I really need this chocolate ?" and you get good at answering "yes" only when a chocolate brings something valuable to you: you will eliminate every chocolates that makes chocolate something insignificant and keep only chocolates you will remember about (and eventually you will be able to spend your money on a few really good swiss or belgian chocolates rather than many cheap ones).
Sometimes my life gets complicated (or I complicate it) and then I see signs of maximalism, I'm used to spot them now, so I do a lot of introspection, find out what is in excess and work to remove it. Then the path becomes clear, confusion evaporates. For instance:
I want to learn and know so much ... I used to really try to:
I designed many study timetables. On some of the timetables every minute was scheduled. I was studying while going somewhere, while eating, while speaking to someone or even using the bathroom (I even got interested into alternative ways to sleep !). Even like that I wasn't satisfied of my progress: with so many different things to learn I had only a limited amount of time for each, it was hard to keep in my head new concepts, hard to finish books, hard to get a deep comprehension of any of them. On top of that I wasted moments with my partner, meals, conversations and a lot of time. There were signs of maximalism. So I prioritized and chose what I wanted to learn the most and mourned over the rest of it (lot of it was "just in case" knowledge... I would have forget it anyway). After that I felt light again, I finally started to really learn and life regained the attention it deserves.
When you get rid of every unnecessary habits, items, activities, thoughts, what matters become clear and everything gets more meaningful. You become able to focus on those important things without worrying about anything else.
Physical possessions, unwanted activities, constant hungriness or too much responsibilities ... All those things generate stress. Minimalism liberates you from those:
I live in a rather big city well serviced by public transports but when I moved here I wanted to get my car with me anyway -> Finding a spot to park, fearing vandalism, noticing vandalism, fees and administrative duties generated a lot of stress. Life is so much better since I've got rid of it !
More time for what matters:
I remember the first time I removed digital activities after 6. I was afraid to be really bored. But I ended up reading incredible books, I gave more time to the woman I love, made chores I had always postponed.. I never used my time so well.
Minimalising activities lead you to not constantly feeling that you're running out of time. It's a huge relief and a great change about the way you experience life. Most people including myself experience everyday the feeling that we don't have time for things that are valuable to us... That we don't have time for anything ! Always seeing life escaping like that is a terrible thing.
Afraid of what you have to lose, anchored by everything you have to take care of you're not able to do things you really want to do.
What you own draws limits in your life. Minimalism helps to free yourself from unnecessary limits.
"Live simply so that others may simply live." - Gandhi
It's only common sense but removing unnecessary things for you may means essential things for others.
I've exposed a limited view of what minimalism is, here is a list of sources to read more about it:
- Essentialism, a book that gives a good clue about what I tried to express here (in case I've been bad at it ;-) )
- The blog that inspired me for this website's simple design
- Read what Joshua Becker has to say about becoming minimalist
- Miss minimalist's blog
fun fact about this website¶
I made this website a dozen times without finishing it using different technologies and designs. I saw signs of maximalism and remembered about this awesome blog: Inspired by Leo's idea of a website I published mine using a simple static site generator and within an hour it was doing everything I needed it to do.