Are We Sick of Minimalism Already?
Idon’t think minimalism could get any trendier right now. It is so widespread that the backlash has begun. In this article in The Guardian, Chelsea Fagan argues that minimalism is just another form of conspicuous consumption available only to the rich. In this post, Kimberly Button argues that minimalism made her life harder rather than easier. Like everything that humans tend to overwork, ruin or misinterpret, minimalism doesn’t have to be done to death. Like the Pirate’s Code, it’s really more like a set of “guidelines”. It doesn’t mean throwing away everything you own. It doesn’t mean living in a sparse interior with nothing but a fork and a plate. It doesn’t mean selling everything you possess and biking across the country. It does mean paring down your life to the essentials FOR YOU. The things and places that make you happy.
Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom. The Minimalists
My take on minimalism comes from a place of sustainability. For decades we have been encouraged to buy anything we want. Products like appliances and and clothes are now made to fall apart quickly so that we will go buy them again. As a result, we accumulate and throw out an enormous amount of stuff. Minimalism appeals to me because I like the idea that rather than purchasing the latest and greatest, we only purchase what we need. I don’t like the idea of getting rid of everything I own if it means sending it to a landfill.
I am weird enough to have fantasies of factories that can take in all that we throw out (mostly plastics), chop it all up and reuse every bit of it as building materials or insulation or whatever. Down the road I dream of having a replicator, like on Star Trek, that breaks down everything to its smallest molecule and reuses the energy in new ways. Stuff stresses me out because I know most of it can’t be reused with today’s technologies and that even if we did have the ability to reuse matter, the fossil fuel driven capitalists won’t let it happen because they want us to keep buying plastic.
For most people though, minimalism is being sold as the panacea for stress relief and good health. I agree with Kimberly Button in that getting rid of things makes sense if those things are stressing you out. But if they are not your source of stress then hold on to them if they make you happy. It’s about determining what will make you happy. Are you buying yet another piece of clothing because you want or need it or because you are miserable at work and spending time for yourself by shopping makes your job easier to bear. Maybe its not the stuff itself that’s making you crazy but the way it is placed around your house. Maybe you just need a better storage and working system.
I am naturally an organized person. I remember as a kid sorting my closet into outfits, for each season. It’s just how I think. It can be things, data or processes, I gravitate toward putting things in order. Some people thrive on chaos. I thrive on efficiency and systems. That doesn’t mean that everything in my life HAS to be ordered. That would take just too much energy and time. However, the things that are important – my keys, documents, clothes and photos – are sorted into systems that allow me to find them easily and quickly. I have also moved enough over the years that I have been forced to purge what I don’t want to carry to the next place. As I became more concerned about the environment and the stuff we are encouraged to buy, it became easier and easier to purge more and have less. Just this week I removed a few more pieces of clothing that I no longer wear. I found the charity Dress for Success that takes gently used business wear to donate to men and women trying to find jobs. It makes me happy knowing the clothes are going to people who need them. If I do happen to buy something new, I usually make sure that I give away something at the same time.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.The Minimalists
I think it is a good idea in this age of mass consumerism to take a serious look at the minimalist philosophy. See what resonates with you. See if there are things you can do in your own life that will allow you to feel good and achieve what you want. For myself, I believe that getting rid of clutter is a good idea but that is because I am a visual person. I see things in great detail so I like my space to show only what’s necessary. Everything else is put behind cupboard doors. But I know someone who likes to see everything she has in front of her. It makes her happy to see a organized shelving unit full of books and CDs and DVDs. To each her own. Find what makes you happy. The environmentalist in me hopes you will choose buying less and living more.