Two years ago, we started on our journey to minimalism. At the time, I didn’t even know that it was an actual movement with a name and everything, I just knew that there had to be a better way to use my money than just to buy my family’s comfort and happiness. [We all know money doesn’t buy happiness anyway, right?] I wanted to spend less money on stuff we don’t need so we have more money to spend on people who really do have needs.
I found Minimalism and it helped me be less focused on getting more for myself and more focused on giving more to meet the needs of people around the world.
After two years of changing our perspective on money and possessions [and getting rid of a lot of excess as well], I have found one phrase to be the key to maintaining a simple, minimalist lifestyle – and ultimately to finding contentment.
It’s not enough to get rid of our excess crap – we have to stop bringing in new crap. In the past year, I’ve been tempted to buy things that I thought I “needed” only to do without and realize that I didn’t need them at all. Bath mats, dish towels, pizza cutter, organizers, end tables, new dishwasher…the list is seriously long.
Now, before I go out and buy something that I think I need, I do without and see how it goes. Turns out, I don’t “need” nearly as much as I think I do.
Of course I’m not saying you should not buy legitimate things you need like food and toilet paper. I’m saying we need to do without all the extra stuff that we don’t need. And we need learn to tell the difference.
Well, the craziest thing has happened. The more I realize how little I need, the more I see how wealthy I am. The more I feel content with what I have. The less I want.
Now I look around my home see tons of stuff that I don’t need or want – especially when I think of the needs of other people. And all of that stuff represents money that I wasted and can’t get back. Money that could have bought something that someone actually does need – like food or clothing or shelter or clean water or medical supplies or an education, etc. The list of needs is long and the list of people on this planet who need them is so long it breaks my heart.
People think Minimalism is “extreme” or too restrictive. But [for me anyway] minimalism is the greatest freedom. Freedom from American consumerism. Freedom from trying to keep up with the Joneses. Freedom from wasting money on junk that just clutters my home. Freedom from feeling like I constantly need more or never have enough.
Freedom to give more away to people who really do have needs.
So, if minimalism seems like too much for you, don’t worry. You don’t have to purge all your belongings, or own a monochromatic capsule wardrobe, or leave all your walls white and bare. All you need to do is do without the excess. Do without that new shirt you don’t need. Do without that appliance that you’re only going to use once a year anyway. Do without the knick-knacks. Do without the new jewelry. Do without the pizza cutter and bath mats. Life will go on. And chances are you’ll be more content with what you have.