When life is focused, when art has limitations, amazing things happen. There is a reason that writing prompts are so popular and most visual or musical artists tend to hold to certain themes while creating. Having some boundaries can allow creativity to flourish. Too much freedom is overwhelming. I feel like the lifestyle of minimalism creates healthy boundaries in my life, and allows creativity and relationships to take centre stage.
Lately, I have been feeling like I might be a fake minimalist. Last year I went 12 months without buying any clothes. Since then, I have bought a lot less in general and simplified my life via decluttering my home nearly every day. The thing is, I still feel like we have way too much stuff... will I always feel this way? Maybe.
"Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it," my favourite definition of minimalism found on my favourite minimalist website, becomingminimalist.com. I also love that the name of Joshua Becker's website is, "Becoming Minimalist," because I really do feel like it is a process.
Some aspects of a minimalist lifestyle are easy for me, I have been doing them my entire adult life.
1. Not becoming over attached to material possessions. It's just not important (to me), and when we have too much, it can become a burden.
3. Preferring to spend money on experiences over "stuff."
4. Intentionally choosing to have less commitments so that I can spend more time with family and friends, as well as engage in activities that are meaningful to me. I learned how to say "no" with confidence and no excuses a number of years ago and my life improved immensely.
5. Actively and successfully paying down debt (incurred from valuing experiences, specifically moving twice on credit and faith- worth it).
6. Letting go of useless thoughts. Negative thoughts have no purpose. Jealousy, resentment, judgement, only hurt the person experiencing the thought and take up room in our brain that could be doing more important work. This is actually a huge thing, and may require cognitive behaviour therapy to eliminate negative thought loops.
Some aspects of minimalism are more of a challenge for me, but since I love a challenge, I will never give up!
1. Not multitasking. I realize that multitasking is not a helpful habit, it often creates more work in the end, it can be inefficient, and is the enemy of mindfulness.
2. Having less goals at a time, not in general (related to multitasking). I make too many goals. To be a true minimalist, one would have less goals and more focus. I can see how this would create increased opportunities for success. It would also help with peace of mind. I often feel overwhelmed.
Minimalism looks different for everyone. It might not be right for everyone. I think there is a misconception that minimalists live out of a backpack, travel the world, and own nothing. Although this sounds amazing to me, this is not my life. I have 3 children and a husband. They come with toys and stuff. I love them, so I find a way to make all the toys and gadgets fit.
I have been working on reorganizing, paring down, and giving my studio space a facelift before music lessons resume in a few weeks (stay tuned for the full reveal!). I came to a realization that I do need to have a collection of music books to teach from and play from. So although I have downsized my collection, it is still fairly extensive. Does this make me a fake minimalist? Probably not.
I do think that true minimalism is a process and a state of mind. It looks different for everyone and is different according to the stage of life that you are experiencing. Minimalism is also a product of privilege, I grew up with many opportunities and live with an income that allows me the option of amassing possessions. This is not the case for much of the world. Part of me feels that by using my resources differently, I will be able to be more helpful to others who do not have my privileges.
Last night, I told Husband that I might feel happy with our amount of earthly possessions by the age of 60, he corrected me to the age of 90, which made me smile to think that we might live that long. I may never get to a point where I feel that I have arrived at the pinnacle of the minimalist lifestyle, and this point may also not exist. I need to continue to find ways to enjoy the journey, the process, and the added creative focus.