For several years now my ethos and values have centred around the idea of minimalism.
The concept is essentially a philosophy of getting rid of any excess stuff, keeping items that bring value to your life and living life based on experiences rather than possessions. The belongings one has will vary according to what you value as important; if you use it enough and it’s a necessity in your opinion to keep, then of course by all means keep it.
Minimalism can be beneficial not only for saving money/budgeting effectively, but also for prioritising what’s important, giving yourself space within a space for a sense of mental clarity, without it being cluttered with lots of things.
For me I became enlightened by the concept after my Dad passed away from cancer, over a very short time period since his diagnosis. This traumatic experience shed light on what is most important in the world to me. I learned how short life is and that experiences will always be more valuable than things.
I also noticed the corruption with the capitalist society in which we live. How simple it is nowadays for people to purchase things that they don’t really NEED, influenced strongly by the media and advertising convincing them that they need new clothes, accessories, cars, books… so much STUFF.
People truly believe that buying things will make them happy, and if it does then AMAZING. But I found it’s almost a form of toxic addiction; I’d go on a shopping spree and expect to feel ecstatic, complete, yet I’d encounter feelings of fleeting excitement and then a sense of dissatisfaction at the same time. And I think that many people use purchasing behaviours as a sense of reward, to make them feel better and yet they never quite get a long lasting ‘feel good’ sensation, which results in wanting to buy more and more to keep chasing that very short lived reward feeling from the release of dopamine.
I realised this aged ~18 when about to go off to university, and it was easy at this stage for me to pair back on what I owned and get rid of anything I didn’t need, as it’s all very much more useful to pack light. People who establish this concept later in life will find it harder to let go of possessions they have held onto for so long.
The way that I brought it into my life was through design, when I was decorating my studio/one bed flat, which was only 30 square meters in London. I wanted to make the small space as bright and airy and spacious as possible. So I painted all the walls white, added grey features such as flooring, kitchen counters, and added mirrors where possible to open up the space.
Even relatively minimalistic designs often have additional features like ornaments, wall art etc, but I kept it really paired back and only had the ABSOLUTE essentials that I personally needed; bed, chest of drawers (doubling as a bedside table), bedside lamp, sofa bed, sofa cushions & a blanket, large dining table (to double as a desk) with 4 benches that could double as shelves/a TV stand, extra seating for guests, a TV, laptop - and a kettle and a lamp for the living area. Over several years I finally added some extra shelves - one for some ornaments (for me I love essential oils, candles and crystals so I used that space for storing those.)
But I didn’t NEED anything else. I didn’t even have a toaster (I would heat it in a frying pan - because that was functional, and a toaster took up extra space). I would have days where I’d want to add wall art or replace the lights with something more "design-esque", or add a rug and coffee table and foot stool etc - but if it wasn’t essential I wouldn’t buy it. And I must say it worked wonders for savings too!
In my clothing choices, I’ll look for it second hand (if I can) or buy items that are high quality and/or at least natural breathable materials like cotton & linen, and I’ll buy only items that I absolutely need. You’ll probably see me wearing the same outfits again and again, because I do rarely buy anything new and if I do it should last for a LONG time. If I do get fed up of items and want to change up my wardrobe, I’ll sell on Depop, or give to charity or recycle accordingly - because for me it’s also about sustainability. A great brand new app that helps you pair down your garments to crowdsource decision making is Keep or Toss.
If you want to watch a documentary on the concept, there’s a great feature on Netflix featuring Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus called The Minimalists. They also have a website with lots of resources on how to begin your journey into minimalism. https://www.theminimalists.com/start/
Do you live by the minimalist concept? Or are you looking to become more of a minimalist? I'd love to hear - please get in touch