Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jessica Dang of Minimal Student.
As people, since childhood, we are told that we should always want more and more. That we should grab as much as we can. We spend our lives earning more money to buy houses bigger than we need, to buy more clothes than we can wear and flashy cars just to get from A to B. We’re told to stuff ourselves at Thanksgiving and Christmas, fill our schedules with appointments and errands, keep up with all the media that surrounds us on TV, in magazines and on the internet. We’re told to take whatever we can, and as much of it as possible. But many of us know there is another way.
“Live simply so others may simply live.”
As a minimalist, I’ve based my life around this philosophy. I’ve stopped taking more than I need and used my extra time, effort and money to help others that need it more than I do. I’ve supported and encouraged people to make changes in their lives for the better. And by consuming less, I’ve greatly reduced the amount I contribute to the world’s pollution and waste. I’m very proud of what I’ve done for others, but for some people, helping others may not be enough to push them to make the changes they need.
So, how about:
“Live simply, so I may simply live.”
It’s true, in a big way, that minimalists have less. We have fewer clothes, shoes and accessories. We have smaller houses. We may have clearer schedules. We might not even own a car. But does that mean we live unhappier lives? Is it always worse to have less?
Of course it’s not.
If we owned fewer things, we wouldn’t have to worry about our stuff breaking, becoming redundant, getting lost or stolen. We wouldn’t have to worry about money, debt, doing overtime, the high costs of rent, gas for our car or our shopping habits.
If we weren’t so busy with work, appointments and commitments our heart isn’t into any more, we’d actually have time to spend with the people we love. We could actually talk about things that we’re worried about, what the kids did at school today or simply how we’re feeling. We could go to the park, have a picnic, go to a museum, theatre, concert or why not just throw caution into the wind and skydive with friend?
If we gave up watching TV four hours a day, we could use that time to learn something new, like a foreign language, how to cook, or take up an instrument. We wouldn’t be bombarded so much by people we don’t know telling us how pretty our houses should be, how pretty our clothes or hair should be and basically how to live our lives.
If we didn’t own a car, or just drove less to work or school, we could walk or ride our bikes instead. We could taste the morning air, feel the rain (it’s only water) stretch our legs and enjoy seeing the world as it really is, instead of constantly from the inside a metal box.
If we ate less, or just more simple foods instead of processed garbage, we wouldn’t have to do as much exercise to work it off (or feel guilty for not doing it). We wouldn’t have to deal with the confidence blows every time we look in the mirror or stand on those scales. We wouldn’t have to worry about the long term health problems that may arise because we concentrated too much on the short term pleasure of that third helping.
And finally, if we gave up being so attached to stuff, then we’d have the time and freedom to follow our dreams.
I gave up nearly everything in my wardrobe, my car, shelves of books and hundreds of other things to follow my dream of living in Japan for a year and traveling around Asia. Now I’m doing and seeing the kinds of things I thought only existed through a TV screen. I get to meet the most fascinating people, eat the most simple and yet fresh and delicious food, and go to the see the most beautiful places. I’m happier now than I ever was owning all of those things people told me would ‘make me happy’.
It was totally worth standing up, going against the flow and making a change. Minimalists may have less stuff, but we definitely have more of what life is made of.
Jessica is minimalist who likes traveling, photography and has a tiny obsession with Japan. If you want to find out what she is up to on her minimalist journey, check out her blog Minimal Student. You could also find her on Twitter.