Not minimalist enough?

“Possessions have no intrinsic meaning only the meaning we give them.” – Source

During TheMinimalists latest podcast (at least latest while I’m writing this, it might not be the latest, when you are reading this), a woman named Maggie (apologize if I’ve spelled it wrong) asked a question about minimalism lifestyle, looking up to other minimalists and this concept of ‘not feeling minimalist enough’.

I think just like with a lot of movements and lifestyles, you’ll have the extremists like Connor from Thriving Minimalist and you’ll also have people like me that find comfort in clutter free life, but contrary to Connor I still wear underwear and I can’t fit all my belongings in a backpack. Yet? (Who knows.)

Personally, I go trough times when my charity bags fill up to the brim in a matter of hours because I’m feeling an intense need to get rid of stuff and then other times I’m happy to have a bit more around. For example, at the moment I am going trough a very busy time at university and I kid you not I have around 20 different library book lying all over my bedroom floor. While this arrangement is annoying me tremendously, I also know that I need these books for the numerous assignments I am working on.

When considering the definition of minimalism, its origins comes from art, sculpting, and design characterized by simple forms, deliberate lack of decoration and adornment in design. My trusty source for minimalist ideas TheMinimalists simply define minimalism as a tool in assisting you finding freedom. Personally, minimalism has two purposes for me: (1) distance myself from the consumption hungry society and (2) environmental impacts. And while I heartfully admire and respect Collin Wright from Exile Lifestyle (I have the biggest crush), honestly his colinismyname YouTube channel is legendary, I could not possess only 51 things and travel all over the world. Yet, at least. It simply isn’t feasible for me. This isn’t me making excuses, it’s the reality that I live in at the moment. Or Leo Babauta, what he and his family does is absolutely incredible, juggling six children and accomplishing awesome challenges like running a 50-mile ultramarathon. I’ve read of his journey and I’m awestruck by him, but his lifestyle would not fit into my life.

There is no such thing as ‘not being minimalist enough’, like with many concepts in life, you have to assess it personally, figure out your own meaning of it. TheMinimalists in their podcast talked about Cal Newport’s article on digital minimalism and the evaluation of the values he suggests could easily be applied to anyone’s life. Traditionally minimalism suggests assessing items by asking whether this ‘thing’ adds value or joy to your life. Newport in the article further breaks it down when evaluating an item’s value and suggests considering:

  1. core value: does this item significantly impacts your life to an extent where you can’t live without it;
  2. minor value: does this item offer you some moderate positive benefits in the moment;
  3. invented value: does this item only solve a problem that previously did not exist prior to you acquiring this item.

For someone owning an electric toothbrush would be an invented value because you then have to consider charging it, changing the head etc. but for me, that is a core value of my routine, simply to some dental health is more important than others. Would that make one of us more of a minimalist than other? I think not.

The same principles can be applied to your ‘just in case items’, items that hypothetically you think you might need one day, but you are not sure and your ‘just for when items’, items that you are certain you will need at some point in the future but not right now. I can best explain this with an example of my life, I currently live in the UK where the winters are not too cold (I still own a light coat) this is my ‘just for when item’ because I know I will need it when fall comes around, but when I used to live in Latvia I had to have a full on waterproof snowboarding type of jacket for winter because it would get very cold, at the time this was a core value item for me, if I were to save this jacket, when I moved to the UK it would become a ‘just in case item’ because realistically I would never wear it simply because the weather in England doesn’t require it. This sort of thought process is what, in my opinion, truly makes someone minimalist. I believe it has nothing to do with the amount of stuff one possesses or what their daily routine looks like, it’s about assessing your possessions and determining whether or not these items enrich your life or is the ‘want’ coming from the influence of our consumption hungry society.

That is all for today, feel free to consider this in your own time and until next time, when I come up with some other blabber I wish to share on here, go spread some kindness!

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