“The secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
Have you heard of minimalism?
One of the biggest status indicators in society is the things that you have.
Society taught and conditioned me to believe that the path to success and happiness is to buy and accumulate things.
To buy the fancy clothes, the fast car, or the big house, I must have a respectable job with a big paycheck.
This was only possible if I did well in school.
I followed that path to the letter and bought the fast car.
It felt satisfying but was ephemeral.
I didn’t feel successful or happy.
I thought that I have to buy more things to reach success and happiness.
As a result, I worked harder to earn more money so I can buy “happiness” by displaying my “success” with the things that I have.
But the feelings of success and happiness never appeared.
Determined to fill this void, I forced myself to look elsewhere.
That’s when I started valuing experiences instead of things.
Those experiences created memories and emotions that forever stored within me.
But to create those wonderful memories, some material things are required.
These are the things that add value to my life.
This is the core principle of minimalism.
Becoming a minimalist doesn’t mean to live with just the bare essentials, but it’s about living with the things that truly add value to your life.
For example, my road bike adds tremendous value to my life because I use it to train for bike races and to stay physically active.
But if you don’t cycle, the bike wouldn’t add any value to your life.
Each person defines minimalism differently because everyone’s values are different.
Minimalism Can Be Your Solution
Do you have a lot of stuff?
According to the statistic of the professional organizer Regina Lark, the average U.S. household has about 300,000 things.
That is a lot of stuff!
Many forms of advertisement encourage your love for consumption.
The negative effects of having so many things can overwhelm you by creating extra and unnecessary mental and financial stress.
Not to mention that the large physical spaces required to store the extra stuff.
By deeply understanding what brings values into your life, you can remove the things that don’t.
In return, you will have more time to focus on the things that do bring value to your life.
You’ll free up the clutter and eradicate the physical and emotional burden of carrying on the extra “weight.”
It’s a powerful way to reduce excess and simplify your life.
When you only have things that truly bring value to your life, you can live a more meaningful life because everything you have serves a specific purpose.
To help you declutter and prevent purchasing unnecessary things, ask yourself these questions.
- Does this add value to my life?
- What is the real “cost” (time, money, opportunity, etc.) of buying this?
- How could my life improve if I don’t buy this?
However you define them, happiness and success will come as byproducts of living a meaningful life.
You may feel differently about getting rid of the things that have sentimental value.
These could be anything that has special meaning for you, ranging from a small pin to a big car.
For example, one of my favorite hobbies is traveling.
Every time I visit a new country, I would buy a postcard and add it to my fridge collection.
But what I have discovered is that I don’t need to hold on to these postcards to remember all those memories.
The memories are inside of me, and not stored in the postcards.
The emotions, feelings, and experiences rise by seeing the postcards.
But I don’t need to keep the postcards to keep the memories.
As a result, I have stopped collecting postcards from my travels.
Before I threw away my postcards, I took pictures of them.
Now every time I see those pictures, I would start thinking about those adventurous memories from traveling through each country.
Taking pictures of your sentimental things is a great way to hold to those memories virtually.
This will reduce physical space for storing them as well as mental stress for having to take care of them.
But be aware of creating excess mental clutter with too many pictures.
The Importance of Your Environment
The concept of “subtraction” can also be applied to relationships.
- Do you have people that drag you down and pull you away from your goals?
- Do you have negative people (energy vampires) that drain your energy?
- Would you like to surround yourself with people who will lift you up?
Your environment plays a key role in your life because it influences you in subtle yet impactful ways.
When you’re consistently exposed to an environment for a long period time, you adapt and will eventually become your surrounding.
If you’re aiming to become healthier, then you will be more successful when you surround yourself with healthy food and spend time with people who’re into healthy living.
But if you surround yourself with unhealthy food and spend time with those who aren’t into healthy living, then you will have a difficult time becoming healthier.
You’re the product of your environment!
If there are people who pull you further away from your goals, then you should consider reducing your interaction with them.
By doing so, you’re respecting yourself because you’re choosing what is important to you.
For extreme measures, you might have to eliminate all interactions with others because their influence is too detrimental.
This might be cruel, but you must do what is best for yourself.
There’s no right or wrong.
You two are no longer a right fit together.
You have outgrown the other person or vice versa.
By doing so, you give yourself opportunities to meet other like-minded people.
When you strictly and strategically surround yourself with people of similar values, you will excel and progress faster and farther than you ever have before.
The purpose of minimalism is to remove things that don’t serve you so you can have more freedom to do what is most important to you.
Your best investment is in yourself and one of them is your freedom!
When you declutter and live with less, everything that remains is important because it adds value to your life.
The added value is in the form of having more time to pursue a new hobby or spend with a friend.
The opportunities are endless!
The benefits of living with the essentials include having less stress and anxiety.
By eliminating the excess noise, the unnecessary things, and negative people in your life, you can start focusing on living a meaningful life.
If you would like to read more about minimalism, please check out The Minimalist Blog.
They have inspiring stories and more ways to help you declutter your life.
Minimalism is not for everyone and the choice is entirely up to you.
Please share this article with anyone who you think may find it useful.
If you have any questions and/or comments on minimalism, please leave a comment below or send me an email.
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MacVean, Mary. “For many people, gathering possessions is just the stuff of life.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 01 Jan. 2017.