Call it what you want—minimalism, simplifying, downsizing; either way, the message is the same and it’s currently taking the world by storm. This concept that less is more, primarily targeted at the things we own, is more than that, however.
But is this just another trend or something beyond that? If history is to be trusted, the virtues of a simplistic lifestyle are deeper than a trending Twitter topic. Take, for example, these quotes throughout the years:
“Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.”
–Epicurus, 341 BCE
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
–Leonardo da Vinci, 1452
“My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants.”
–Joseph Brotherton, 1783
“It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.”
–Henry Ward Beecher, 1813
Obviously people have been thinking about simplification for quite some time. But what does it mean in today’s fast-paced, materialistic society? Should we all go to our closets and throw away or donate all but 40 pieces of clothing, like capsule wardrobe enthusiasts recommend? Should we only own 4 plates, 4 cups, 4 forks, 4 knives, and 4 spoons in the name of simplicity’s sake and with the consequence of a constant need to do the dishes?
While we understand and even appreciate the importance of simplification, we also think it’s about much more than just the stuff that occupies our space. Here are five other areas you can incorporate a minimalist mindset in your life and reap major benefits.
Relationships. Somewhere during high school, society told us that having more friends meant we were cooler and more popular. But as free-thinking, mature adults, the opposite might actually be true. As we age and grow to know ourselves intimately, we learn that it’s actually the quality of friendships not the quantity that counts. This means that we can simplify our social calendar a bit, opting out of engagements that, in the long run, are meaningless. We don’t have to save face anymore with mere acquaintances, but can really dive in on a deeper level with those in our lives who mean the most.
Activities. We are constantly loading up our schedules in the name of staying busy. We go on countless adventures just to get that epic pic for our social media. We want to be on trend, trying the newest, best artisan restaurants. We travel as much as possible every weekend we can just to appear busy and important. But if simplification is more about lifestyle than possessions, this should leak over into our calendars as well. Maybe it’s okay to take a weekend off to just sit around the house. Maybe it’s perfectly fine to not climb that mountain and forgo that beautifully captured moment so we can finally get caught up on our laundry or spend some time in meditation. Maybe it’s simply okay to say no sometimes.
Entrepreneurship. As a business owner, you’ll never have a moment where there’s nothing to do or new opportunities to explore. And while that’s all fine and good for the most part, it can get overwhelming and crush your simplistic lifestyle. On the flip side, as an entrepreneur, you have the capacity to pick and choose what’s right for your company. While there are some essentials, like hiring, bills, and keeping the books, you don’t have to attend every conference, take every class, or be a social media guru on every single platform. You do you. The rest will take care of itself.
Learning. While there’s a place for the Jack-of-all-trades who knows a little bit about literally everything, there’s also something super refreshing about dedicating yourself to one particular topic at a time. Simplifying what you learn, read, watch, and listen to can help cultivate a life you really enjoy. You don’t have to learn how to knit one week and watercolor the next and fix desktop computers while also taking ballroom classes. Commit yourself to one thing, dedicate yourself to becoming an expert in it, and move on to the next.
Personal growth. When you cut out some of the noise and say no to unnecessary events and obligations, you’ll find one beautiful thing waiting for you at the end: more time. Time is the one thing in life you can’t buy and once you’ve spent it, you can’t get it back. So take precious care of it. By living a more simplistic lifestyle, you can leverage this time to add more to your own personal growth and that of your family’s. Instead of filling those moments running to and fro, however, slow down. Take a moment each day in silence. Maybe go for a walk. Develop your in dialogue and get to know yourself again.
Minimalism teaches us a lot about the stuff we own, but it’s far more than that. It shows us areas in our life that we can be more intentional about. It reveals areas that can be simplified so we can truly enjoy our lives instead of rushing through them. And that’s the best gift of all.