Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Lynn Fang of Upcycled Love.
“Every generation needs a new revolution.” – Thomas Jefferson
In my eyes, minimalists are enlightened individuals who want to get the most out of life. They have depth of heart, heightened awareness, and a great deal of courage.
Others often brush minimalism off as something only for the highly principled and disciplined, an unrealistic vision exclusively for those living on the fringe of society. Without a doubt, though, minimalism is growing, seeping slowly into the mainstream.
Its appeal, as readers here know, makes sense considering the context of overconsumption, recession, and environmental degradation. Minimalism is about so much more than the number of items you own, however few. As Jeffrey Tang puts it, minimalists are high connoisseurs of life. According to Brett Oblack, the number one reason for minimalism is more time. More time to live, of course.
Time, experience, life. These are the main themes behind minimalism. What can a non-minimalist learn from a minimalist? How can minimalism change society?
The Power of Minimalism
First and foremost, minimalism is a paradigm shift. Its greatest effect is encouraging people to think, perceive, and behave in a new direction: towards less materialism, and more positive life experiences. Minimalism redefines the nature of life, everyday and overall. Society teaches us to attach our status and reputation to the items we own – luxury brands, the latest gadgets, or the most fashionable attire. Minimalism teaches us to move away from this mentality.
The minimalist, like a scientist, asks,
- What does it mean to live?
- What are the basic essentials of a meaningful life?
- Is that all we need to be happy?
It’s a journey in search of the essentials of living a happy and meaningful life. By taking away clutter, focusing on time and life experiences, the minimalist has few frivolous distractions to lure her into overconsumption and debt. It’s an experiment, in a sense, to see what type of lifestyle can bring about the most happiness and meaning. The best way to start, as all good science does, is with the essentials.
Minimalism in Society
There is great power in the asking of these questions to actually redefine society.
Ultimately, society and culture are what we as individual members make it. If each individual member of our society chose to ask these questions in search of happier lives, we would live in a very different world. Most likely, this world would be much more peaceful, more community-oriented, less damaging to the environment, and, most importantly, happier.
The evidence for minimalism’s effects are clear: Every non-minimalist will begin questioning their possessions, life activities, use of personal time, the experiences they want to create, and capacity to contribute something useful. In effect, minimalism has planted the seeds of change. I know it’s affected my life in this way.
Even if strict minimalism doesn’t spread that far, its message can resonate with everyone, and I do mean everyone. It’s a focus on living life: Imagine a society sharply focused on the experiences that truly matter.