You have probably heard of this new movement sweeping our nation. The very definition of “The American Dream” is being redesigned into something much … smaller. I’m sure it is a confusing concept to some of you, especially those of you who have a lot of stuff, but I think that it is very important to understand the heart of minimalism. Why does a minimalist choose this path?
I’m sure you’re not blind to the fact that our possessions can own us. We can become so obsessed with our car, our house, our office, etc., that we spend most of our money on it. Credit card debt, loans, working over 40 hours a week, a lot of that is a consequence of being a slave to objects. That’s what minimalists are trying to fight. They were once there, and now they no longer want to be there.
Minimalism is not about giving up every last thing that you own. Minimalists value things, just like you do. They have loans to pay off and credit card debt, just like you do. But they are working to eliminate those things. They are working to better their quality of life by eliminating the many things that tear us down. They sell what they do not need or value, and they keep the things that mean something. But you don’t have to sell everything to start out with.
For example, I do my best to be a minimalist. I’m not perfect, but I have a small room so that kind of keeps me accountable for what I own. But the truth is, if half of the things I owned went lost or were destroyed, I would not be very sad. There are few things that I feel sentimental toward, but those few things include: a beanie baby that was gifted to me by my Grandma who passed away, a typewriter that my other Grandma gave me, a blanket that my other Grandma knitted me, a painting that my Grandpa painted, books that got me through some of the toughest times of my life, pictures of my family and travels, my guitar, my record player and my cat’s litter box (I’m just being honest here, a litter box is quite valuable when you own a cat). Those are the things I really feel tied to because they are from, or of or for, important people (or cat) in my life.
Maybe being a minimalist is not for you. Truthfully, I think that minimalism is meant for everyone. You don’t have to move into a tiny shack in the middle of the woods and learn how to hunt for your own food. But minimalism gives us all a chance to look at what surrounds us, and try to discover what holds us back and what pushes us forward? Are we going to own things, or are they going to own us? It’s not about the objects you own as much as it is about why you own them.