Every book, post, essay, or video about minimalism that I've read has attempted to define what minimalism is. I think this is because it means something different to each individual. Fumio Sasaki lived with one towel, no couch but I'm living in a 3,000 sq ft house and still consider myself a minimalist.
For me, minimalism is the following:
Happiness as a Skill
Living a happy life was my main motivation for being a minimalist. I was so overwhelmed (still am but now know I have the tools to make it through) I wasn't enjoying my life. In Goodbye, Things I learned
Happiness, actually is all around. You can find happiness in everyday things.
I also learned from The Minimalists that
Happiness is a skill that you can exercise just like a muscle.
My husband and I started telling each other each night what made us happy or thankful that day. This small 2 minute conversations had ramifications for my entire day. I'd actually create happy moments, or step back and realize that this is a happy moment. It made me so much more aware of how wonderful my life is, if I take a minute and find the happiness.
According to one of the longest run studies on happiness, relationships are what make us happy and healthy (click here to watch). I was particularly concerned with the relationship I had with my children and husband. I felt like my husband was more like a roommate and I was too busy to spend time with my children. I felt like I was missing their most exciting years. I wanted something to help me spend time with my kids.
The idea that hooked me was a post by Joshua Becker about cleaning his garage instead of playing with his children. I immediately identified with him and wanted to know what to do to be able to clean less and be with my children more.
Spending Less Money
I HATE keeping track of my money. I mean HATE. It fills me with fear, drudgery, and loathing. I forget to pay my bills all of the time, I loose receipts, I put off looking at my accounts. I'm no good at it. Even though I am absolutely horrible at it, I challenged myself at it and ended up doing books for 2 companies. I did it, but didn't like it. It satisfied me that I could keep track of money but when I was replaced I was more than happy to give up those duties. My horrible lack of money sense often leads to tension in our house because my husband is unbelievably smart about money. This difference often leads to a few conflicts in our household. This is the catalyst for my spending less money.
The second of my catalysts for spending less was, when I was getting rid of my mountains of stuff, I was disgusted about how much stuff I'd accumulated. It really made me think about what I was actually bringing into my house. Since I'm buying less, I'm saving money!
Looking at what I'm getting rid of makes me sick at the mindless consumption I'd been a part of for decades. Consuming less just makes sense when you are trying to make your life happier and more peaceful.
Being More Mindful
I had never thought of being mindful before until I started listening to others who've embarked on this journey. From just taking deep breaths when I step outside to enjoying the view as I walk home to studying the smiles on my babies' faces, I am realizing that stopping and enjoying the little things is my way to happiness. I am getting better at enjoying the small moments and it's making me feel more calm.
Yesterday, after a particularly difficult day, I sat on my couch and just concentrated on my breathing. I felt energized and able to continue on my day. Today, after being woken up before 5am by my daughter, we made the best of the situation and my husband and I sat by the window, chatted, and watched the sun rise.
For me, a busy life means and unhealthy one. I don't have time to make a lunch, I'm too exhausted to make dinner, I crave chocolate when I'm tired or stressed. I ended up being overweight with IBS, PCOS, and tired ALL OF THE TIME. I wanted to become healthier. I was encouraged when Fumio Sasaki said he'd lost weight when he embarked on his minimalist journey. I want to become healthier because I feel better and when I feel better, I can enjoy the moments of my life better.
Have you noticed that getting rid of my stuff isn't in my definition of minimalism? That's not what it means to me at all. Getting rid of my stuff is merely the way I can achieve what I want out of this fleeting life. Minimalisim isn't just a home with no stuff, it's being happy, being with those you love, being more conscious of your consumption, enjoying the little moments in life, and being healthy.
What is your definition? Why are you a minimalist?