Minimalism to most people looks like a blank art piece, music with decluttered simple rhythm, a closet with barely any choice or room with nothing but a couple of small essential furniture and blank walls. However, this my friend is far from the reality. We are constantly misled by the consumerist voice in our mind or probably society at large. Minimalism contrary to popular misconception is not the life of insufficient but a lifestyle of plenty which is guided by conscious consumption.
The modern times are so confusing, fast paced and intimidating at times that focused thinking without the clutter is almost impossible. There are the news casting behemoths propagating an exaggerated crisis looming over the world just to promote viewership, to the social media with its never-ending promotion of conspicuous consumption and fake news and forwards. The list is endless and overwhelming to say the least. Though all is not bad, human race today is more connected, informed and spoilt for choice than ever before. The modern man on any given day is a productivity god when compared to the medieval man, no messenger of the 14th Century could possibly compete with the speed of our emails and text messages, or compare the scholars of 14th Century with our search engine services, I doubt they could hardly keep up with the pace of information flow. Well, to some readers by now, this might not make a lot of sense and they could even question how is all of this even related to minimalism.
The Idea of Minimalism…
The problem here is that now more than ever we are exposed to so much of everything around us that making the right decision and striking an optimal balance is ever more crucial. Minimalism is a way of life, in which we choose to eliminate the clutter from every aspect of life be it things as simple as our Inbox to our purchases and finances. It is not a life of less or insufficient, rather it is more about finding the things that we find value in and surrounding ourselves with those things, while finding and eliminating those things which are not important to us yet we waste a lot of our time and energy in the same. The focus here is in identifying the essentials and non-essentials, and this can be very subjective. For example, to watch enthusiast an automatic Swiss movement watch would be of immense value and he would be a minimalist even after owning a couple of them, but to some other they are just simple time keepers and unnecessary indulgences. The idea here is not to deprive yourself from things you love or enjoy or value, why would you want to let go of something that makes you happy.
Practicing minimalism is multifaceted and in my little time in life I could only actualize a fragment of it but its influence is profound. Have you ever felt unproductive or not progressing in life, well it is very natural to sometimes feel that way in our fast-paced world were we promote hustle and relentlessness, we really want to fill every minute of our lives with productivity but honestly this whole idea is flawed. Specially, given the current crisis and the at-home situation due to the lockdown it might feel all the more overwhelming and depressing, now that we are not able to pack every second and minute of our lives with busyness. The biggest challenge for us is sitting idle without having to engage ourselves into anything and almost seems to be a nightmare, thus giving way to binge watching shows and the popular ‘Netflix and Chill’ ideas. The ever high relentlessness to be productive makes us fill every moment, not doing anything for a moment, that boredom and void, that blank emptiness is really unimaginable and discomforting. Pause for a moment and look around, as I have already established that today we are already productivity behemoths, can’t we really spend our time with absolutely nothing and still feel happy? Wait for a moment and contemplate how much of all that time you have spent really means a lot of value to you? On the other hand, we often end up saying that we don’t have enough time for certain other things even when we really want to do it…
“It is not that we have a short time to live, we waste most of it” — Seneca
Minimalism in here is all about judicially spending your time in things which matter and not unnecessarily filling it up just because we are trying to avoid a certain feeling of boredom or unproductive, even if that means spending your time doing absolutely nothing, absolved of all kinds of distractions. The very idea here is to remove the unnecessary distractions from your daily life to live a more purposeful life.
By this time, it is my feeling that one of the two things has happened, either you are convinced of the idea behind minimalism or completely bored and feel that I am a lunatic. Well, there is merit in both the conclusions, but here are my takes on Minimalism and its impact in my life after practicing the same for about two years now:
· Learning to appreciate the little things in life, let me illustrate and I am sure even you would witness the same. In our busy daily lives filled with office, work, studies, friends, social gatherings and a lot of other things, we have never really a taken the time to appreciate the privilege we have of free mobility that we can exercise. But now with the lockdown in place we have for a brief moment removed all the clutter and really got into focusing on this freedom and I am very sure most will appreciate this more than ever before, atleast I will. Similarly, with minimalism you can notice a lot of small things in life which remain unnoticed or taken for granted for a better half of our times and truly appreciate them.
· Purposeful living and consumption, with minimalism you end up making a more purposeful living and not waste your time, energy and money on the unnecessary details.
· Focus driven efforts and productivity, with minimalism everything that you chose to devote your time and energy into is more focused and conscious, thus naturally leading to you assuming a more focused approach and being more productive.
· Mental Clarity, in this fast-paced digital age with so much around us it is truly difficult to find mental clarity, but with minimalism you have a better chance of finding true mental clarity.
How to be a Minimalist ?
There are various ways to look at it, and here are some of the ways that you can start:
- Digital Minimalism: Try to maintain a clean Inbox, delete unnecessary emails and unsubscribe to newsletter which you don’t ever read and try to delete all the irrelevant advertisement on a weekly basis. Uninstall the unnecessarily Application from your phone which you do not use or wish to use less, including removing them from the home screen to prevent yourself from falling back into the old pattern.
- Consumption Minimalism: Be specific about the news and social media content you consume, try to avoid and eliminate the stuff to your judgement do not add value to your life, or are not aligned to your goals.
- Purchases: This is vague, however try to identify the things that truly matter to you and spend time on only those stuff, whereas try to eliminate choice in the unnecessary stuff. For example, if your t-shirts don’t make a world of difference to you, don’t break your head about it just find a couple of suitable colours and stick to those colours of t-shirts round the year.
- Journaling: One of the best way to have a clear uncluttered thought process is journaling. Have a specific notebook or a diary and preferably write down (instead of digital) your thoughts and goals periodically. This helps in clearly focusing on important stuff that you might want to get done with, or focus on relevant things that matter.
- Let Go: The most important part of this idea is to let go of stuff that you don’t need or use. That what-if situation for which you have been holding on to something rarely actualizes but in the process you end up accumulating a lot of stuff, just let go of these stuff.
Having said all that, Minimalism is not perfect and may not even suit a lot of people but here is the beauty of minimalism, it is subjective and there is no one single formula neither is it an end. It is like a building block of your lifestyle which you use to build your way of living, purpose and objective, it is a continuous process and it becomes a part of almost everything you do.
“Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing.” — Leo Babauta.