By Victoria Q
What is minimalism?
Basically, minimalism is a lifestyle that helps you to focus on what you value the most so that you can live a meaningful life. The meaning of minimalism varies from person to person. However, all minimalists share a common goal which is to focus on what really matters to them by removing distractions. It’s an intentional choice to live with less while bringing most value to your life. This is what minimalists often define “Less is More”.
The Minimalists offers this definition: “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”
Get to know 7 ways to live a happier and simple life:
Why did I fail?
Just like some people, I have misconceptions about minimalism.
1. Minimalism is a goal
I had the wrong idea that minimalism was a goal. I got rid of almost everything I own including the things I use frequently, trying hard to achieve a certain number of possessions I can only own. After I achieved the number, I set another number lesser than the first number and the next time set again a number lesser than the previous number and so on. Did I feel happy after achieving the number? Yes. For about a week? Then I realized I gave away the things I need. So, I ended buying the things back, which is a total money wasting. I also feel empty and bored after giving away everything. Then, I learnt that minimalism is a lifestyle and not a goal.
2. Minimalism is about owning 100 or less items
Like I mentioned in the first point, I kept achieving a certain number about owning lesser and lesser each time I declutter. First, I set myself to own only 100 pieces of clothes, the second time I reduced to 80 pieces, and the third time to 60 pieces and so on till 40 pieces left. Minimalism isn’t about owning a certain number of possessions but removing unnecessary things so that you can focus on what you value the most. Those “unnecessary” things are what distract us from seeing what’s important to us. Nowadays, there are too many things that got us distracted easily. For example, when you’re focusing on doing your house core or writing an email, then you got a notification from your phone, you’ll most likely pause everything and pick up your phone. That’s how easily we got distracted.
3. Minimalism is being frugal
“Spend less and save more” “Ask yourself these 10 questions before making a purchase” “Track your monthly spending” I’ve read plenty of similar articles on how to save money throughout my first journey of being a minimalist. I thought if I always ask myself the 10 questions before buying, spend less and save as much money as I can, and track my spending every single month would mean I’m living a minimalist life. I buy only the cheapest things so that I can save up more, not buying anything new even though I love it, not travelling anywhere no matter how much I wanted and set a really tight monthly budget that left me no choice but to cut out eating out or maybe just once a month. I really get to pay off my debt quick by doing this and indeed it’s a good method. Even though I’ve paid off my debt, I continue living this way for quite some time. I save up as much as I can by neglecting what I really need and love, losing the meaning of life. I love travelling and trying out new foods, but I tried so hard to save up and give up what I love. I lost and was being frugal instead of living a meaningful life.
4. Minimalism is all about white
When I watch minimalist room or house tours, I always find them in white wallpaper, white bed, white furniture, white kitchenware, just everything about white. I love white but there are other things that I prefer in other colours. That can be cream, brown, grey, black, red, yellow, green, blue or orange. I had the wrong idea that minimalism is all about white and just white. But white actually required a lot of care and maintenance. I am definitely not a person to spend time taking care of these and I know I won’t. But I want to be a minimalist. So, I decided to buy everything in white, decorate my room in white and try my best to take care of them. I really got to maintain them in good and white condition at the beginning. After a few months, most of the things turned either grey or yellow. Minimalism isn’t just about white, as long as it adds meaning and sparks joy in your life, it can be in any colour.
5. You can’t have a TV if you’re minimalist
I definitely remember I watched plenty of minimalist house tours and they have no TV at home. They define that TV distracts them, so they got it removed. They spend time reading a book, listening to the sound of nature, writing and spending time with family. That’s such a good idea, right? So, I also got mine removed in hope of getting a simpler and minimalist life just like others. I do like what others do – read a book, listen to the sound of nature, write, spend time with family and pets. But no, that’s not what I want. I love spending time watching a TV program with my family and spend time watching a movie alone. So, am I not enjoying my life just because I own a TV? Am I not a minimalist then? Like I mentioned, minimalism is about focusing on what matters to you. If you enjoy spending time watching TV with family or alone like me, then keep your TV. Everyone has their own priorities in their lives and not one size fits all. Finding the best that suit you is the most important.