Now that we have explored how the minimalist art movement started us off on this journey, it is time to analyze how the philosophy of the modern-day minimalist movement began. This chapter will highlight the key principles of the movement and discuss key areas you could explore in your journey towards a more minimalist lifestyle.
Let’s take an example from our everyday lives. Many people, myself included, have a mindset of competition— knowingly or unknowingly, we can end up competing with our peers to be the best. Social media has certainly exacerbated this tendency, and it’s safe to say that the competition that exists, further enabled by the internet, is not going to evaporate any time soon. Professional networking sites and social media sites are vital parts of our lives and enable us to connect with our peers, colleagues, like-minded individuals, and celebrities. The internet helps us keep up-to-date with what is happening within our social circles, our professional networks, and even world events. The consequence of this level of interconnectedness is a tendency within ourselves to compare. As a result, many of us end up comparing the state of our lives with our peers, the state of our career progression with industry colleagues. And inevitably, this can lead to feelings of not being fulfilled, can stress us out, and create self-doubt. If someone’s self-worth and purpose is easily influenced by what kind of car they have, what job they have, what material things they own, then this level of interconnectedness definitely doesn’t help. At its core, minimalism as a philosophy seeks to rid life of its excess. This means getting rid of the unimportant things that cloud both our immediate space and our minds with clutter and stress. In order to prepare your mind for this type of lifestyle change, you should ask yourself the following questions: Why do I feel like I must obtain a certain standard of living? Are there people in my life whose opinion I care deeply about? Maybe to an overly-emotional and illogical extent? Am I living in a way that is efficient, precise? Am I living a life that consistent with my core values and beliefs? Start by evaluating these questions in one specific area of your lifestyle. The areas you could explore include your consumption, how you feel about your job, why you make certain decisions regarding extracurricular activities, and even the way you choose your diet. Take your time, and really think about how the answers to these questions influence your thoughts and your current lifestyle. Are you caught up in the social media buzz about the latest gadget? When you see that your neighbor just bought a new car, do you inadvertently start questioning the quality of your car? If this is the case, then why do you think you feel this way? Exploring these questions can help us analyze why we make our decisions, and why we choose our lifestyles. While owning certain material things and living a certain lifestyle can convey a sense of temporary fulfillment, the urge in all of us to want more and have more can cause stress. And that is precisely why the modern minimalist lifestyle exists. It can be argued that if you can reduce the demand for certain goods and a certain way of living, you’ll prepare yourself for a life filled with less[ 5]. Another key reason why minimalism works is that it forces us to actually appreciate what we already have. Have you ever really wanted a material thing, only to lose interest in it after a few days? And when version 2.0 comes out, you want the new version even more? I certainly have. This way of thinking is a vicious cycle that is sometimes hard to stop. If you were able to avoid feeling that anything material is never, truly good enough, not only would you save money; you would also be able to look around, take a breath, and focus on what’s already good in your life. Most of us eventually come to this realization, no matter how short lived it is. Think about the last time you came across an article, a blog post, or a piece of news about a particularly dismal situation about someone less fortunate than you. This can make us stop and re-evaluate our lives, and what we already have. When you adopt the philosophy of minimalism, you are committing yourself to a lifestyle where you frequently find yourself appreciating everything that life has to offer, whether it is a sunny crisp afternoon or the car that you’ve owned for more than a decade. Once you have had a chance to reflect upon the questions highlighted above, you can take the next step to understanding yourself better— to figure out what your preferences are, what you need and value the most, and what makes you truly fulfilled and happy. This process will involve two basic steps.