Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.” —Antoine de St. Exupery
The Case Against Minimalism
When I first heard about minimalism, I became very defensive. I wanted to ‘protect’ my material world. “No thank you, I love my stuff. I’ve worked hard for years to accumulate every single piece. And I’m planning to hold on to them!” That’s what I silently said in response.
I salute all of you advanced minimalists out there but the idea of a minimalist lifestyle and a small home terrified me. And so I promptly forgot about it and went about my business.
Except that I couldn’t forget. Minimalism was happening all around me. The personal growth world had gotten hold of this notion of “less is more” and was not about to let go anytime soon. Becoming a minimalist was the latest trend and the biggest buzz in town!
And that terrified me even more. I started to grow “allergic” to the word minimalism and avoided anything and everything about becoming a minimalist.
But at least I felt safe and protected in my home. Until, that is, my husband picked up on the trend and was soon sharing his new ideas on how minimalism would revolutionize our lives.
“We don’t need to collect any more stuff, honey! We should now focus on collecting memorable life experiences instead. That’s what lives in our hearts and travels to the end of time with us. You know?”
That’s very romantic, babe, I thought to myself, but I still want what I want which is swimming in a big fat shiny material world and nobody was going to change my mind about it, not even my soul-mate.
So it was obviously time to take out the big guns and put up my big guard against this whole minimalism business.
I had to protect myself. Everyone, it seemed, was out to strip me from my cherished, material things and to convince me that shopping for new clothes, beautiful shoes, and fancy makeup was a waste of time and money. And I wasn’t about to have any of that.
Becoming an Accidental Minimalist
And then something very peculiar happened.
My good friends Dan and Vanessa launched a podcast called “Simple life Together“ and I innocently tuned in. The idea of simple living drew me in like a magnet. It didn’t scare me like minimalism – in fact, initially, I didn’t draw the connection between the two at all.
I totally embraced this simple living concept. I started organizing my closets, donating my books and going paperless, and I loved it. And for some strange reason, my husband couldn’t be happier! “Thank you Dan and Vanessa” he would say over and over!
Then a few months later, I was vacationing in Chile and naturally, we went shopping. Or maybe I persuaded my hubby to take me shopping, I can’t remember which. Anyway, here I was, in this gorgeous shopping mall in the heart of Santiago, and I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything!
This resistance to shopping persisted to the very end of our trip and I left Chile without buying a single thing—which in my book is seriously abnormal. But I comforted myself. I was saving up for Istanbul, I reasoned, which was going to be my big shopping spree of the decade!
And to my utter shock, the same thing happened during my Istanbul trip. I was in the middle of the Grand Bazaar in the heart of one of the greatest cities in the Middle East, with money and time… and absolutely zero desire to shop.
On several occasions, I came ridiculously close to buying something following a bout of negotiation even my Dad would be proud of. But then I would just lose interest and have no desire to go through with the transaction.
I can’t tell you how baffling this felt. It felt as if I had traded my old self with someone else and I was watching in horror what this new person was doing, and wondering what on earth had happened to my old self.
Just for good measure, when I came home, I drove by myself to pick up some make-up. Nobody to bother me or to rush me. Nowhere to be but in the aisles of makeup after makeup with a long shopping list. All the time in the world to choose gorgeous new expensive makeup … and I walked out with a tiny lipstick!
That, dear friends, is how I became an accidental minimalist!
Your Inner Voice on Minimalism
I admit, it feels strange when a subconscious part of you drives your behavior and messes around with your inner desires. But it also feels good. And right to some extent. That subconscious part is our inner wisdom guiding us gently toward the best decisions of life as long as we listen and pay attention.
I am so glad I listened.
I did not intend for any of this to happen.
In fact, I had every intention to shop, to buy, to spend, and yet when push came to shove, I had lost all interest in doing so.
And now I get it. It feels good. It feels good to not buy, to not shop, and to not worry about what to buy and where to shop and instead, to simply go without. In fact, it feels better than what you feel an hour or a day after you buy something, you know, the low after you’ve come down from the high of shopping, the unfulfilled desire nudging you to go out and shop some more to feel better, the never-ending cycle of high-low from never quite having bought enough.
So for now, I am letting this accidental path take me along. Now, I can finally appreciate living simpler, living with less, and being all the better off as a result.
Now I understand the irony that our stuff, which was supposed to bring us happiness and joy, finds a sneaky way of trapping us. And our freedom, which we cherish and protect so much, gets silently trapped in all the mess.
Unless we pay attention because true freedom, it turns out, is in the intangibles that we can’t see or touch but feel. The stuff that we can’t put on shelves, but we can put in our hearts. And there, it can stay safely for a long time without taking up much space at all.
So I have lowered my guard, I have accepted the truth of this higher self which apparently knows me so well, and while I am far from calling myself one, I can honestly say that I am loving the path of becoming a minimalist.
What about you? How did you fall into minimalism? Was it with intention? Or do you have an accidental story to share? Let us know in the comments!
Farnoosh Brock left a 12-year corporate career to start her own company, Prolific Living Inc. She is the author of several books including her latest, The Healthy Juicer’s Bible. You can also find her on Twitter or at her weekly podcast, The Daily Interaction.