Minimalism can mean a lot of things to different people. Hi, I’m Trevor and this is what minimalism means to me.
Minimalism seems to have gotten a bad rap on the internet and there is a lot of misconceptions about what it really is. It’s about stuff, or lack of stuff, and counting objects right? No, but it could be if that’s what you want it to be. So let’s start with a definition.
Minimalism is a tool (or lens) in which to view the world and the things in it where you focus on removing excess to leave only what is most important to you. Minimalism therefore will look and act different for everyone, kind of how everyone furnishes a home, but the styles and layouts of where the furniture goes changes.
What It Is Not
What minimalism is not is focusing on the number of possessions you own, by counting and racing to have the fewest items. It is not an obsession with downsizing and purging leaving you only to repurchase items at a later time and then repeat. It is not a set of rules for how to live with the least technology/creature comforts etc. It is also not a lifestyle only for the rich, being they can buy and dispose of items at will. Lastly it is not a lifestyle where you live in the woods without running water, unless of course you choose to do so.
This probably is counter to everything you may have heard, and if you haven’t heard this than great! You can search the web for additional info and find these kinds of rules/challenges and other things that claim to be true minimalism, but in fact these are all falsehoods or extreme personal options presented as facts.
This still probably isn’t very clear so let’s break it down further.
Tool To Remove Excess
I started my definition with the idea of minimalism being a tool to remove excess. This is the primary function of minimalism. If you are only living and doing everything that you feel you need to be happy and fulfilled then you probably don’t need minimalism. Honestly I would argue that people like that are already practicing it without knowing it. Minimalism arose out of our modern lives becoming torn in many different directions; from places and people to see, to products we feel compelled to buy and use to ‘get our monies worth’. This being pulled in all directions causes many of us to lose our path or vision and find ourselves churning in a sea of routine mundane things that are not what we dream our lives to be.
This is where a tool to remove the excess comes in. With all the distractions and things to do and use we need a way to cut back to what really matters. Will upgrading your toaster oven really make your everyday life better or just be another gadget used to impress your friends? How about that new pair of shoes? Going for a drink at the bar or to the movies? Will these measurably make your life better as you dream your life to be? If not, then they need to go. Save the money to buy what you need. Save the time to spend it on the things you truly enjoy. After all, time is money and we all have limited time in our lives. So every minute counts. This means if you spending time or money(which is just spent time disguised as an object), you are using up minutes of your life. Minimalism removes the excess expenditures so you can be sure to spend all of your time toward what you really care about.
Different For Everyone
Rich or poor, Minimalism can be for you. As I mentioned before, Minimalism isn’t just for the rich. You don’t need to have the ability to buy and dispose of objects on command to use it. I would even be willing to bet that minimalism is more for the poor to middle class as it helps you focus on what’s actually important. Minimalism helps focus limited resources. Believing in this mindset and view can help you pay off debts, forego excess feel good but ultimately luxury/unnecessary purchases and keep you on track to reach your goals/dreams/wishes.
More than Finances
However it’s different for everyone in more than just finances. As we all have different wants, desires and life situations, each persons implementation of minimalism will look just as different. A family of 4 who prioritizes travel will look completely different than an retired single woman who values reading and her book collection.
What Minimalism Is
Minimalism is simply a way to frame everything in your life so you can be sure you are focusing your time and energy on what most matters to you. We as people tend to feel we are good at knowing this information, but if you ever feel overwhelmed at the number of things you enjoy and don’t know what to do next or how to spend your free time with hobbies, minimalism can help. Knowing you have limited time and energy you can stop the churn of upkeep for all your commitments and only agree to those that you truly want to complete. Remove the excess hobbies/commitments/habits and free up the time/energy/money to put towards your most important goals and dreams. This is minimalism.
If removing objects from your life will free up time/money/energy, then you can rightsize(downsize to your level of comfort). If you perhaps own only what you use and love, but spend too much time not using these things, then it would be time to remove excess commitments to free your time. This can include changing jobs, learning to say no to friends and family, or simply scheduling time for your preferred use instead of say falling into yet another binge of Netflix.
Minimalism is extremely personal. As such my view on minimalism and how I incorporate it into my life will be very different from others. I tend to love removing excess with a large sharp razor-like focus.
My overall philosophy on minimalism is that I want everything I do or spend time on to help work towards my goals or bring lasting happiness. This is a fairly objective and possibly universal way to use this train of thought. However I apply this to a level that many probably do not. I have not only removed personal objects that no longer fit this criteria, but I also look for this in everything I do.
I look to remove excess from what I read in the news/online articles as well as answers to question I have be it online or in person. This is part of my driving force to create all of the tech articles that I have. I have found many things and most tech how to articles to contain excess that detract from what I am after. Hence I now only spend time looking for straightforward information, that doesn’t detail edge cases with more than links to relevant information. I don’t like to go shopping without purpose and I usually don’t enjoy idle chat. Anything that slows down my growth or progression to a goal is excess and I try to strip out as much of it as I can. Life is now. I don’t want to spend another minute reading a verbose round about answer for 20 minutes that could be answered in 5. I don’t want to discuss the weather or window shopping. I have other things I would rather be doing. With everything I do I try to ensure it matches this ideal of living and doing what I want to.
This probably makes me sound unpleasant or at least like someone to avoid. The truth is I also understand there is a lot to be valued in relationships/friendships and other instances where this razer-like drive to remove excess may seem to cut people out of my life. However with that I only value real relationships. I don’t have time for those who don’t participate in our friendship. Cold? Maybe, but we should all strive to only spend our time with those that truly care about us the way we do them.
Additionally I use this emotionally as well. Why let myself be mad, get upset or feel lousy when in the grand scheme of things it won’t matter next week, let alone next month, or even next year? This is possibly one of the best benefits I get from practicing minimalism daily.
Happiness and Emotional Well-being
Aside from keeping yourself focused on where you spend time and money there are even more benefits to be had from minimalism every day. You can greatly combat stress, anger and negative emotions using the same mindset that focuses you on what you want. How is that? You simply work to recognize and filter out what isn’t important. Just like all the other distractions, emotions can waste our time and energy on frivolous things. Ever had someone in a car cut you off and you then were in a bad mood the rest of the day? Or how about something small like making a mess or exposing a personal flaw to others that left you feeling embarrassed or vulnerable? Well, those emotions don’t actually have to be. If you reframe these events to how important they really are in the grand scheme of things(will this really impact your life a week from now? A month? Five years?) you will probably find that you can safely move past these negative emotions by simply learning from the event and moving forward. Staying and focusing on these meaningless non-impactful events leaves us stuck in the past, unable to move forward until we recognize we have to move on.
I use this method of thinking daily. I have learned to let go of the things I can’t change and not to focus on the little things that wont matter in the future. The result has been greatly reduced stress and allowing me to better enjoy my day as interruptions that used to bring anger/resentment/etc are all removed from focus. One way I do this is by trying to understand how the emotion will help. Sometimes it is needed to feel upset or angry, but once you understand when you need it you can quickly get yourself what you need and move on to feeling happy if not just back to normal.
Another benefit is a feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment. When you are actively working towards or on what you want you can feel satisfied every night when you go to bed that you did and accomplished things you wanted. For years I felt unfulfilled half halfheartedly working on projects and wasting too much time with quick fixes of happiness from watching videos online or playing games. There is nothing wrong with these activities in moderation, but when you default to these passive activities that are not your absolute end goal you will most likely find yourself feeling unfulfilled and like you are stuck spinning your wheels trying to get traction. Recognizing these areas of excess induldgement will help you focus and accomplish what you have been wishing for. There is no better feeling (I think) than feeling like you are accomplishing what you wish to do. You can feel this everyday and minimalism can help.
Adopting the ideals of keeping only what is important or has lasting happiness has greatly changed my life. What I described here is what Minimalism means to me. Although I didn’t describe all the aspects of how I practice it, I will leave those for future articles. I wanted to use this as an opportunity to share my understanding of minimalism and how I view it can be applied to life. I hope you found this useful and possibly inspirational. If you think this may be something that can help you in your life, please stick around, subscribe to our email list to be notified of new posts and feel free to contact us, either through our form or in the comments. All the articles we write here on NautilusMODE will be to this ideal of to the point and what you need coverage and cover a variety of topics with this minimalist lens. I would love to see you stick around.