I’m no expert on minimalism but it is one of my interests. It is represented in many of my goals and impacts on pretty much everything I do. With this in mind I thought it would be good to explain why I call myself a minimalist and what I mean by it.
Ch.. Ch.. Ch.. Ch.. Changes
In recent years I have gone through some major life changes. Each of these, in their own way, has helped me focus on what is important. I have questioned both what I want and what I need. I have reassessed my values and realised that through changing the way I live, and trying to use minimalism in all I do, I can make a difference to my life and the life of the universe I inhabit… however minuscule that might be, the difference not the universe!
The following points have led me to where I am now:
We have limited resources
The world is crowded and the resources we have available are finite. As a keen sci-fi fan I would love to see us using the resources throughout the solar system and beyond. Currently that isn’t possible and with the planet’s population growing we need to conserve the resources we have. Therefore I want to use less where and when I can.
Unease with consumerism
These next two points are closely linked. I am uneasy with aspects of marketing. A lot of marketing works by making us feel inadequate and that are lives are miserable and unfulfilled. Our happiness and fulfilment can be obtained by buying and consuming. It is an ongoing ploy, the next new thing will bring joy and completion… until the next. In my experience buying something has never had any lasting effect on my happiness and fulfilled my life’s expectations. I want to add that I do engage with marketing myself and selling product in itself isn’t wrong. My point is I am uneasy with it.
Capitalism vs socialism
A little bit of politics, as Ben Elton used to say. I am toward the left of the political spectrum. I currently find myself in the social libertarian area. I would say I believe in a small government that looks after everyone in its care. The problem is that many libertarians don’t have that social aspect. They are driven by the capitalist urge of growth, to getting bigger, to being more successful, to monopolise. I am no political expert and my views are very simple. If by engaging in capitalism we end up with vulnerable people not being cared for, something is wrong. To me capitalism has always equated with greed and greed has always been something I have tried to avoid. This is an oversimplification, but with the other points I hope it clarifies where I am coming from.
Letting go of things has always been beneficial
Probably the main reason for my minimalism is this. Over recent times I have found that as I have let things go, things that I was trying to cling on to, I have benefitted. The emotional gains of giving things up have far outweighed the stress of holding on to them. So many of the problems I have had over the years have been solved by stopping and letting go. It is a truism that the less we carry the further we can travel. I have found it to be true in my life.
Making a difference
I don’t claim to be the perfect minimalist. I struggle with consumerism and wanting things that I don’t really need just because they are bright and shiny. Being creative doesn’t help either. I always want to try out the latest gadget that can help me make music or improve my writing. It isn’t something I believe you achieve but something you aim for, an ideal, an ongoing challenge. We can make a difference to our lives; minimalism has made a difference to mine.