Minimalism: The Next Big Thing

On the coat tails of the Kondo phenomenon, we have minimalism. It’s not new, per se, but awareness of this lifestyle is growing. There’s a lot said about it via social media, and the trend seems to be that it’s the millennials adopting the minimalist lifestyle. They want experiences, not things. They want mobility, not to be tied down — especially by their things!

But there is need to dispel some of the myths about this way of life. Minimalism is not a specific formula. You are not forced to own a specific number of items or live in a space of miniscule dimensions. It’s not about living with nothing.  It’s about personal choices. Joshua Becker, one of the more recognizable names in the world of minimalism, writes, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. And while this looks different for each person, it always requires its pursuer to further define his/her passions—and discover intentionality because of it”. Makes sense.

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Some turn to minimalism out of despair. This is true of Joshua Becker (quoted above) and also of Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn – The Minimalists. Nicodemus and Millburn lived what appeared to be pretty amazing lives, but they weren’t happy.  After some soul-searching, the two decided to quit their jobs, leave behind the security of healthy paycheques, and pursue what really made them happy. That lead them to a book tour in 2014 and they have just finished another tour promoting their new movie Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I had the opportunity to see the movie when it was released in Toronto, and to see the minimalists themselves. They are two, regular guys. Authentic. Down to earth. They just travel light.

I also recently participated in a discussion on this topic with a group of organizers. The general consensus is that none of us are minimalists – although, according to the Facebook quiz I’ve taken, I am an extreme minimalist J The thing we do have in common is that we live with intentionality; this is at the crux of minimalism. The goal is to think before you buy. Leave behind the forced consumption that plagues western society. Question the value that will be added to your life if you buy just one more of this, or that.  Just because you can own a different coat or pair of shoes for every day of the month, doesn’t mean you have to have them or that they will bring you eternal happiness.

As a minimalist, you live a life that is filled with the experiences, relationships and things that make your life meaningful.  You don’t read from someone else’s script, you identify what truly matters to you and what you need to be happy and fulfilled.