MINIMALISM - attempting a definition
What is minimalism? Traditionally, the word referred mainly to the arts. However, currently, our generation is defining minimalism new. I think by now, it is not an exaggeration to call it a "minimalist movement", supporting the idea, that living with less, is actually fulfilling us more.
Before writing this, I googled the definition of the word "minimalism" itself and this came up:
1. A school of abstract painting and sculpture that emphasizes extreme simplification of form, as by the use of basicshapes and monochromatic palettes of primary colors, objectivity, and anonymity of style. Also called ABC art, minimalart, reductivism, rejective art.
2. Use of the fewest and barest essentials or elements, as in the arts, literature, or design.
3. Music A style of music marked by extreme simplification of rhythms, patterns, and harmonies, prolonged chordal ormelodic repetitions, and often a trancelike effect.
4. design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect
Even though, this definition refers to art, it already contains the basic principle that make a simple lifestyle so attractive to me and many others. You could sum up the whole definition like this:
USE OF THE FEWEST AND BAREST ESSENTIALS TO CREATE THE MAXIMUM EFFECT.
This of course, could be applied purely to the aesthetics of your home - bare spaces, lots of white, monochrome colors, simple shapes - a "Scandinavian Style" if you will. Additionally, it could be applied to your whole way of living:
~ challenging consumerism, materialism and wastefulness ~
~ owning less, living with what's necessary, giving less meaning to material possessions ~
~ living mindfully, freeing oneself from the many distractions & unnecessary responsibilities ~
~ consuming less information, being more deliberate, creating a life worthwhile ~
I'm not a master of minimalism. As a family, we have started our mission to simplify our lives about a year ago and we have a long way to go. Honestly, we may never reach full wisdom on the subject, as a mindful, simplified life is one of those things, you might never stop learning about. How does the old German saying go: "Der Weg ist das Ziel", which can be loosely translated into Emerson's "life is a journey, not a destination".
If I talk to my mother about minimalization and buying less, she always laughs and reminds me about all the money I have wasted in the past on an extensive shoe collection, the umpteenth purse, decor and other stuff. Honestly, she is absolutely right. I used to love to shop. Anytime. Anything. Luckily though, I grew older and wiser. One of my favorite quotes to adapt into my adulthood is this one by Maya Angelou:
What made us realize that we had acquired too many things, we didn't care for was our move from the U.S. to Germany in 2014. I had moved to Washington on January 9, 2012 on a fiancé visa and married my man 19 days later. With only two suitcases and a couple of boxes shipped per mail I started my new life. In record speed I filled the house, my husband had previously acquired, (but never quite furnished), with a whole bunch of cheap furniture, decor and other household goods. Our kitchen was monstrous and so I stocked it with any utensil known to the good housewife. The military though, sends us to a new destination every few years and so when it was time to pack our boxes I was in shock about the amount of things we had gathered. I went through everything, organized a lot, donated some and sold a few other things. The rest of our items got picked up by the movers and sent ahead. For eight weeks, we lived out of four suitcases (combined) once again and we didn't miss a thing. The morning, the moving truck pulled up in front of our German town house we were feeling miserable about the amount of boxes. We were also in surprise over the fact, that we couldn't remember most of the things we had shipped. Not so much as one thought had been spent on most of the items. My favorite kitchen gadgets, and the few better pieces of furniture we gladly welcomed back into our lives of course, but a lot of things felt like a burden. We had to unpack them, find a place for them, store them, sell them, donate them. When we arrived I was 17 weeks pregnant and so I didn't unpack most of my clothes until after the baby was worn. By then, I couldn't believe the amount of clothes I had to sort through. All the stuff completely bogged me down.
So this is were our journey to a minimalist lifestyle started.
There are definitely challenges that come with downsizing:
Everywhere you look there are advertisements that are really good at persuading me why I need a certain item. Our society loves shopping; it makes us feel excited and giddy (at first anyways). I'm fortunate to live in a very rich part of the world, living on a decent income - however, it also makes the line between "wants" and "needs" very hard to see. Also, it is part of our society, to judge people by the things they own, wether we do that intentionally or not.
I'm motivated to continue to make a change though. For myself. But ultimately, also for the world. Buying less, allows me for example, to spend more money on one high quality, long-lasting, more sustainably made product.
Ultimately, I want to be only surrounded by what makes me happy, what is useful to me and what makes life easier for me. This is a slow process. However, by steadily and continuously removing the things that are not adding value to my life , including stuff, but also media, information, negative thoughts, or even people, I hope to gain more focus on what is important to me. And what would that be? More time for my man, my daughter, my family and close friends. A home, filled with necessities and items, that I completely adore. Clothes that fit, that are true to my sense of self and not vary with trends. Time and money for travel and adventure. Room to let nature in every day. Slowing down and enjoying hobbies like yoga, reading, photography. Ah yes - photography and writing of course!
Speaking of writing. You may have wondered why I am sharing all this with you today? Well, several readers have approached me lately, about how to become minimalist, how to start living with less and how to easily organize the fewer things that are less.
So in the next few weeks, I will explore minimalism with you (I'm hoping to learn more as I go, too). I will share with you the insights, that I have gained so far, teach you where to start, how to live with a smaller wardrobe, feel comfortable in the kitchen with only one casserole dish, and to make room and time for what's important.
Let me know your opinions in the comment section. Also, if you would like to specifically read about a certain aspect of downsizing let me know and maybe I can write about my experience.