Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jeffrey Tang.
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life…” – Henry David Thoreau
Some people look at the minimalist movement and see a bunch of ascetics and misers, a group of modern monks who willingly deprive themselves of the material pleasures in life.
That’s not what I see.
In my eyes, minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself or about undergoing sacrificial suffering. It’s not about being miserly with your money or your time or your space.
Rather, minimalism is about becoming a high connoisseur of life. Being willing to burn away the chaff in order to enjoy the wheat of life, like a sommelier who discards a thousand cheap imitations in favor of a single bottle of fine wine, or like the biblical merchant who sells all his belongings to purchase a pearl of surpassing beauty.
Think about it:
- When you clear the clutter from your closet, what are you doing if not making room for the enjoyment of the few quality items you keep?
- When you sell off unneeded books and gadgets and toys, what are you doing if not highlighting the usefulness of the ones that remain?
- When you create space in your life, when you empty your schedule, or your inbox, or your to-do list, what are you doing if not making room for better experiences, better communication, better work?
In Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson write: “Be a curator. You don’t make a great museum by putting all the art in the world into a single room. That’s a warehouse. What makes a museum great is the stuff that’s not on the walls … it’s the stuff you leave out that matters.”
Jason and David were writing about the art of business – but their advice applies to the art of life as well.
Be a curator of life. Edit. Leave out the junky parts. Don’t be afraid to say no – but when you find something worth saying yes to – treasure it. Enjoy it. Hang it on the walls of your museum and be proud of it.
When you look back in 20, 30, 60 years, what would you rather see? A life filled with stacks of stuff and a ton of obligations and a lot of scurrying around from errand to errand? Or a life centered around carefully gathering valuable experiences and items and goals?
Because that’s the other half of minimalism. The half where less gives way to more: more experiences, more enjoyment, more purpose, more connections, more laughter, more independence, more passion, more great work. The best kind of more.
We can let the world label us misers, or we can show them that we’re connoisseurs. Which do you prefer?