“Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends…Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.”
– Henry David Thoreau
There’s been an explosion of interest in the minimalist lifestyle. More and more people are waking up each day and realizing that with every new thing that they buy, it isn’t getting them any closer to being fulfilled. So the question then arises, would having less, paradoxically, grant us more?
When we think about minimalism, chances are you think of minimalist/modern architecture. We envision bare walls, decor with little to no color, furniture that looks uncomfortable to use, a general fetish for the appearance of a vacant living space. But the philosophy goes beyond any set definition and in turn should be left defined by the minimalists themselves.
The idea of having more by having less isn’t a new phenomenon; many religions/philosophies throughout history have shared this message. But today, in our fast paced world – with access to an excessive amount of information and an abundance of cheap goods, it’s easy to see how having less could potentially offer us solace when having so much doesn’t correlate with a higher sense of well being.
But does this apply to everyone? Or just those with a higher than average thirst for more? On my journey of finding out what is essential for my needs vs that which is not, I’ve realized that we need to ask ourselves not what we need, but why we need it. The former is an impulsive, snap decision, while the latter is a process of analytically assessing our choices, making sure that our final decisions do in fact bring legitimate value.
It isn’t having less specifically that’s the benefit, but the process of re-evaluating the relationship with what we have and that which we want. It’s a way of detoxing from all of the subliminal messages aimed to drive our neurons to behave in a desired way – leading us to buy more without consciously thinking about it. We need to step off the compulsive treadmill more often, collect our thoughts, and proceed to make decisions based on our needs, not the needs of those profiting from deception.