I have been thinking about going all-in on a lifestyle change. I guess, in a way, I have already started. I am an art director working in marketing and advertising for a tech startup. Before that, I was designing in the experiential design field. I was very much into #agencylife. I loved to hate it. I fed off of the stress, and used my paychecks to fill my life with stuff that I always ended up growing sick of, and then resenting. It’s a gross and scary cycle. Why was I feeling so empty when my life looked so full?
This is why I very much wanted to see this documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I related to how the hosts described their lives before becoming minimalists. They came from a similar field as me. I thought it would give me answers. I want life with more meaning. I want to live more intentionally. I am feeling torn by the chaos of my job and the state of the world. I need a way to step back and refocus my energy. This documentary did not answer these questions for me, partially because I did not believe in the hosts. They seemed very into selling their book and going to SXSW. It didn't really me feeling guided down the right path, although some of the actual experts were insightful, they were only given one line nuggets in the film. What I, and I think many others wanted to learn about, is how to make meaningful purchases with items that actually improve your life – how life can be more full with less stuff in it. The one good thing about the film is that it lead me to find actually helpful and insightful information about the true meaning minimalism on my own. So here we are.
The Problem: “I want this, I wish I had that.”
Our culture begs us to own more. Advertisements call us to purchase the latest and the greatest. Our natural tendencies cause us to compare our lives with those around us. And we seem to have a built-in desire to impress others by what we own. As a result, we spend precious energy wishing we had more. It makes us feel like we are missing something – even though there is so much joy right in front of us. We feel the weight and burden of our clutter every day. We own too much stuff. It distracts us from the very life we wish we were living.
I feel like it's important to note here: don't get me wrong, I love stuff. This is why this is so hard for me. Have you seen Things Organized Neatly? It's amazing.
The Way Out: Defining your own meaning of minimalism.
Ultimately, you will begin to remove unneeded things from your life. And when you do, you will find space to intentionally promote the things you most value and remove anything that distracts you from it.
Find a style of minimalism that works for you. One that is not cumbersome, or restrictive, but freeing based on your values, desires, passions, and rational thinking.
— Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist
I don’t necessarily think minimalism is just about material goods. Practicing mindfulness and meditation as a pathway to having headspace, and thus living more ‘minimally’. While watching Minimalism, I was intrigued by Dan Harris’ story about getting into meditation, and his book 10% Happier. He dives into a scientific, no frills approach mindfulness. He goes into early stage research about the benefits of meditation: "...lowering levels of stress hormones, reducing your blood pressure, and boosting your immune system. Meditation has also been shown to mitigate depression, anxiety, ADHD, and age-related cognitive decline."
Sold. This new journey already has me feeling more grounded. If these things I've filled my life with are supposed to make me so happy, then why does it feel so good letting it go?
Header Image Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle