Why Minimalism?

Even before the economic downturn forced people to scale back, there was a movement gaining momentum that believed less is more, that simpler is better. This movement to simplicity and less is called minimalism. In a society where materialism runs rampant, it’s an interesting concept and one worth exploring.

I certainly do look for ways to simplify my life even though I am not a devout follower of minimalism. Out of curiosity, I’ve asked myself “why minimalism?” and tried to understand the appeal. If you ask them, most people will tell you that “more is better”. But is it really? I suppose that depends on your goals in life.

I can’t speak for anybody else, but I do believe that in many respects, simpler is better. “More” can be unnecessary clutter. Think about the decision making process. The more options you have, the harder it is to come to a decision. You remove certain options, you remove clutter (and a certain amount of stress), and make the decision easier.

One way I have put some of these concepts into practice is on my work desk. Usually, my desk is a mess, piled high with papers, binders, notebooks, etc. It’s unorganized and unfocused. When my desk is in such disarray, so is my thinking and my focus. When I realize how out of hand things have gotten, I clean and organize my desk. Generally, with a clean desk and less distractions cluttering it, my thinking and focus improve.

Then there is the matter of money. Things cost money. There are other non-material things that money could be buying, like building memories on unforgettable vacations, taking a class to learn something new, or contributing it to a worthy cause. With the economy in the state it is, people are asking themselves if they really need the purchases of material goods they make. I think that in many respects, that’s a good thing. It puts emphasis back on people, community, experiences, and living.

I don’t think it’s necessary to be minimalist in order to focus or enjoy life. There are some material things that do make us happy, things that have sentiment and memory attached to them, things that help us enjoy a hobby or pursuit. Those are the things I tend to hang onto. The rest can come and go as the need to declutter arises.

As I was in the process of writing this post, a little voice in my head said “You must give something away to invite more.” I think there’s truth in that. I won’t explain what I think that means, as it will probably mean a few different things to different people, but I am going to try to practice that and see what happens!

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