1. You can only have 100 [or insert number here] things or less
Don’t you dare have 101 things otherwise you’ll have to get rid of something!
Only kidding, there’s no need to keep strict numbers on your possessions.
Just follow the general rule of only having what you need, clear out every now and then, and you’ll be fine.
The world will keep turning if you have a few more things than an arbitrary number plucked from the sky, yet people think that minimalists are obsessed with counting each sock.
There are some who do, but the rest of us spend our energies actually living our best lives.
2. Your home/walls/furniture can only be white, no fun allowed
Let’s look at the bigger picture. Rather than focus on the things that we don’t have, or are depriving ourselves of, let’s focus on what we do have, and which of those things give us the most joy and add value in life.
This applies not just to how we decorate our homes, but also to the people, commitments and things we spend our time on/for every day.
3. You can’t want or have nice things
Let’s be clear, cheap is different from frugal.
Being cheap means buying things of low quality that you’ll have to replace after it breaks.
Frugal means buying only what you need, and looking for good deals for things of good quality.
Therefore, you can be frugal, but still buy expensive things because you expect it to last a long time.
In any case, even if it is a nice thing, if you need it, you’re allowed to buy it!
So called ‘minimalists’ might frown at your fifth pair of shoes, but if you need an extra pair because running and hiking shoes are actually different things, you can have both!
4. You need to be a young single male who likes to backpack around the world
Er, no. You’re allowed to join The Minimalist Club™* whether you’re old or young, male or female, or if you have a partner or family, even if it means you’ll have a couple more things, they’ll still let you in.
Kids need clothes and toys and you can’t just wear the same two things every day because you have to look respectable at work.
You can live out of an actual house if you wanted, and you don’t have to travel if it’s not your thing.
We all want different things in life, and as long as you can afford those things that are useful or make you happy, you’re allowed to have them.
5. You can’t get attached or sentimental about anything
Minimalism isn’t hard-core non-attachment Buddhism.
You’re allowed to like the things you own, or feel sentimental about things that mean a lot to you.
We’re all human after all, and we all have a favourite mug/sweater/keepsake that would make us unhappier if we lost or broke it. As long we bear in mind that although stuff will inevitably be in our lives, life is not inevitably about stuff.
If all this sounds to you like I’m making excuses for ‘non-minimalist’ habits, then you’ve still got minimalism all wrong.
There aren’t any rules.
People think that minimalism as a lifestyle means having less, when in fact what it really means is having more.
Don’t fall for these misconceptions—do your own research and find the path that suits you.
Minimalism … isn’t so simple
Minimalism isn’t simply about throwing out everything you own, or about boycotting purchasing new things altogether.
Getting to the stage where you only have what you need is a difficult battle, but it doesn’t end there.
You have to be constantly aware of accumulating more stuff and the consequences and futility of perpetually pursuing material posessions.
On top of that, depending on people’s preferences and situations, there isn’t a cookie cutter criteria for a minimalist.
I’ve always believed that minimalism can’t be measured, you can’t take a number like ‘100 things’ and apply it to everybody.
Compromises have to be made for preferences, jobs, children and other lifestyles.
So, minimalism isn’t simple, but who cares? Arduous journeys lead to great goals, that’s what makes them so great.
I don’t want to put anyone off, but I know it takes a certain level of commitment to begin and maintain a minimalist lifestyle.
The secret is to make baby steps, and work out what works for you.
It’s gets easier when the complexity of minimalism is broken down into smaller steps.
A minimalist should consider weighing the pros and cons of each item’s:
If something can be used for two functions instead of one, you have automatically halved the number of things you would have needed and perhaps saved some money in the process.
Versatile clothing is the key to a minimalist wardrobe.
The longer it lasts, the less you spend fixing it or replacing it. Durability is what dispels the myth that all minimalists are frugalists.
Sometimes, it’s worth paying that extra amount for better quality so that you don’t have to constantly replace it. But be careful, durability should not be mixed up with perceived quality achieved through marketing and brand names.
It’s better to avoid relying on things that are too rare or extravagant that would be expensive and/or difficult to replace, since you could become stuck if it gets lost, broken or stolen. The point of minimalism is that you don’t have to constantly worry about your material things.
For people that travel a lot, the portability of an item is extremely valuable. Ideally, most items should be easy to pack, light and have multiple functions so that you can take a smaller and more manageable suitcase.
Walking the life of minimalism isn’t done without making sacrifices and difficult choices but every right decision, no matter how small, contributes somehow as one small step forwards, instead of backwards, towards happiness. And you never know, the impact you make may inspire others and can create a revolution.
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.
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?