Defining minimalism

Minimalism is the opposite of consumerism. It advocates a lifestyle that relies much less on possessions and much more on personal experiences. And while money is required to fulfill basic needs, being a minimalist is about being frugal and putting excesses toward developing your character and your relationships.  Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus of the Minimalists website eloquently summarize what the journey fully entails. They explain how minimalism is different for everyone, but essentially, how Millennials can get by with just the necessities and how they should focus more on the mental and spiritual aspects of life.

Society would like Millennials to believe that money buys happiness. That the more “stuff”a Millennial owns, the better off they are. Advertisements bombard our communication channels everyday on the radio, on television, in magazines, on billboards, and through pesky Internet ads that seem to be spying on our every click. Companies pitch their products and services in ways that make us want them, so instead of focusing on personal growth and the world around us we spend our time working and pining for possessions that we may not necessarily need.

If you are interested in exploring a minimalist lifestyle, here are a few ways you can get started.

Change Your Lifestyle

Think before you buy. You might be an impulsive buyer. That is, buying products as soon as they pique your interest. When you get this urge, take a moment to think about whether or not you truly NEED the item. Try a 48-hour cooling off period (many retailers will set aside an item for a day or so as a courtesy). If you still want the product after weighing its value and price comparing online, then go back and buy it. You did your due diligence.

Save for something better. It’s not money that buys happiness, but rather the experiences and memories that come from spending the money in the first place. Who hasn’t purchased the token souvenir? But if you save your money for a road trip, a skydiving lesson, or a ticket to a music festival and take photos to remember the experience, then you are gaining so much more from the fiscal transaction.

Use what you already have. You might be ready to buy a new wardrobe for the upcoming season. But have you taken a good look through your closet lately? Is it filled to the brim with clothing? If it is, chances are you may not need anything new. Instead of sprucing your life with new clothes, get creative and add different flairs to your old clothes. Mix and match to create a new style. This way you’re saving money and exercising your creativity.

minimalism

Donate or sell what you don’t need. Do you have any old gaming consoles? An old phone that you’ve recently upgraded? Gamestop or the local gaming shop takes in any gaming consoles for trade -ins or for cashback. Ebay is also a great resource to sell unwanted items. On the flipside, donate to churches, hospitals, schools, libraries, homeless shelters, and shops like Goodwill. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Step Outside Your Box

Meet new people and maintain your current relationships. As a minimalist, you have to expand yourself as a person, and one way to do that is to build relationships with people. Learning about other people’s challenges can often expand your perspective. Maintaining your current relationships may result in more memories of happy times.

Enjoy nature. There’s something about the natural world that gives off a sense of peace. Instead of sitting in the industrialized society, sit amongst the canopies of trees or on the ledge of large rocks overlooking a majestic view. During these times, there is always room for self-reflection. It is also the perfect time to appreciate the small and beautiful things that people normally take for granted.

Spend time with yourself. Many minimalists have more time to themselves to further their character and expand their thinking. These thinkers, including the Dalai Lama, have a few words on how being a minimalist can change your entire perspective and way of life.

Be thankful. Buy a journal. Yes, spend money. This will be a worthwhile investment. Write something you’re thankful for each day. You don’t have to write much, but you have to write in the journal every day. This will result in the realization of how blessed we all are as people. In being thankful for the small things such as the ability to speak or the opportunity to be with a friend, you are gaining the knowledge of a true minimalist.  

Choosing to live a minimalist lifestyle is a practical way of experiencing your life to the fullest. Reallocating your budget effectively will not only lessen your carbon footprint, but will also improve your quality of life providing you purchase something of value- like a gift for a friend or a trip oversees. In the first example, you are strengthening a bond with a friend, and in the second, you are experiencing life and expanding your knowledge base.

Minimalism doesn’t require that you spend a lot of money. It requires you to live with purpose.

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Renee Sogueco

Contributor

Winchester, VA

Renee attends Shenandoah University as a Mass Communications and Political Science double major. She is a 5'3" Filipina and constantly searches for new adventures, different perspectives and new pesco-vegetarian friendly recipes.

All posts by Renee Sogueco

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