by Jessica Dang
Minimalism is often misunderstood. On the surface, it looks like it’s just about decluttering your house, but that’s not what it’s all about.
Yes, having fewer things can improve your life. That’s not the end of the story. A minimalist lifestyle is not just about having fewer things, it’s about having more control in your life.
Think about it. What’s the point in having less? The answer is to have more of what you want—time, good relationships, freedom to be able to afford and choose to do what you want.
There is so much more to minimalism than getting rid of stuff. A minimalist lifestyle is a statement to yourself, and those around you, that you care less about what people think of you, and more about living the life you want.
5 ways minimalism helps you gain control
…of your choices:
Everyday, people let TV shows and advertisements manipulate them. They let marketing romance them into thinking they need the latest gadget, or that having expensive shoes makes them accomplished as people. They’re not really choosing what they want from life, they’re being told.
Minimalists aren’t so easily tricked. We know that in the long run, material things don’t make us happy. We choose what matters to us, and we choose to spend our time and effort on things that are meaningful. We make our own choices.
…of your time:
When people care too much about what society thinks of their job/house/car, they work too hard to prove their worth. Almost everything they do is in the name of appearing successful. Deep down, they know it’s not really worth sticking to a job they hate for the best 40 years of their life, but they do it anyway because what’s the alternative? To not have fancy stuff to show off with?
Minimalists have a sense of self-worth that is unrelated to how much we earn or own. We don’t let TV, neighbours, or society tell us what to do/have/aim for/live for to be successful. We already feel successful because we get to choose what we want to do with our lives. We have more to give. We don’t waste time on pointless things.
…of your finances:
How many people are living paycheck to paycheck not because they aren’t earning enough, but because they’re spending too much? In my last corporate job, almost everybody around me moaned about being ‘broke’ all the time when they were earning more than 80% of people in the country. It was sad. What were these people spending their money on? Expensive suits, branded perfume, overpriced drinks, phone contracts, dry cleaning their expensive suits… you name it, they spent money on it.
A minimalist’s resources are spent on better things than material gain. It doesn’t matter how much we earn, we buy only what we need. We respond to things that have value and tune out things that aren’t—whether it’s meaningful experiences via travelling, giving to those in need, or having the financial freedom to just work less.
…of your happiness:
People get sad or angry when they don’t get what they want. And if they do get it, it’s not long before they wan’t something else. It’s a constant cycle of desire for more that never leads to being happy.
Minimalists take control of their own happiness by appreciating what they have. We may strive for more out of life (minimalism doesn’t mean settling for less than we deserve), but at the same time we know that we’re lucky to be where we are today. Our happiness is in our own hands.
…of your legacy:
I quit my corporate job because the work was totally meaningless. I probably would have made more of an impact doing something like making YouTube videos or banging my head against the table. Will your life’s work matter in the end?
What you leave behind is up to you. Minimalism is about taking charge of your life, and your legacy. You can choose to care less about what others want, and more about living how you want. You don’t have to make a big impact on the world. Even if you just made one person’s life better, or one garden patch, as long as you lived life to the full, you will leave a good legacy.
It’s impossible to control everything. You can’t decide where the road leads, but you can decide which roads to take.
Direction causes destination. Where you’re headed now is where you’ll end up, unless you take control, and steer yourself towards where, or who, you want to be.
So in the last moments of your life, you can answer truthfully: Did you forge your own path or let others dictate it for you?