8 Ways to Become a Minimalist Today
Does becoming a minimalist intimate you? It can be the hipster millennial who’d rather pursue adventure and experiences over possessions or it can bring to mind images of a lackluster life of chosen poverty. And truth be told, there is probably truth in both scenarios. The first opting for the fullness of minimalism and the other missing the mark.
But the term minimalist is what we make of it, and I’ve decided to take a chance that there just might be more joy in laughter, imagination, and freedom on the other side.
I think one reason we search for happiness in consumerism is that with each new thing we acquire we feel it propels us to a higher social status and validation. We feel we fit in, or better yet, stand above the rest.
The minimalist lifestyle threatens our perceived worth in society.
I still had a Blackberry for about a year after the smart phone revolution happened and I was embarrassed. When we finally were able to upgrade to the iPhone 4 I knew I finally had clout, I mattered more somehow. Because every one knows that what a stay at home mom needs is more clout; those toddlers are so judgey!
But the iPhone 4 wasn’t enough. I soon felt uncool and old because I had the model from six months earlier. Now they had the iPhone 4s. How could I possibly go on with my homemaking and mothering and play dating without Siri?!
I agonized over being cast from social gatherings and being unfriended. Suddenly, the universe conspired with an offer from our wireless carrier to upgrade to the iPhone 5s. Aha! I made it! I finally got a current iPhone model that everyone of my friends (and eighteen month old daughter) would approve of.
47 seconds later they came out with the iPhone 6 and it all started over again. Forehead Slap!
I never received any validation from any of my phones. Not even Siri can give me the worth I sought.
True validation is not exhausting, it is a refuge.
It’s that place we can always come home and feel safe. It’s where we can meet God in the spaces we have cleared for Him and hear Him say we are His, He loved us first and forever.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have the latest smart phone or that to be a minimalist you have to shun modern-day lifestyles. We don’t have to shop our grandma’s closet and communicate by the pony express to save a buck and stick it to the man.
Here are 8 ways we can be minimalists and be cool in the modern world.
It all starts here. If we budget the money we have instead of spend what we don’t (credit) we can often find pockets of change to put toward that new iPhone or the dream car or the overseas vacation. There is no freedom in debt. Budget for your needs and save for the extra. When we avoid the pain of the process we can’t value the result. Will Rogers said, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
Stick to the list
Related to the budget, sticking to a grocery list will inevitably free up money and inches off the waistline. Minimize your haul from the supermarket to only what you need, what’s good for you, and leave the impulse items on the shelf. This is particularly true if you rebel against the Standard American Diet, like me.
Purge the garage
I’m going to go on a limb and say that the dusty junk in your garage isn’t moving you any closer to becoming the best version of you. A “use it or lose it” mentality is appropriate here. Is that Bow Flex from 1998 getting you closer to your fitness goal? Those tin cans full of pennies you’ve collected since childhood that weigh a ton and take up a quarter of the garage…yeah you need to cash those and pay off your car. Use it or lose it. Pack up a load for Goodwill or make a few bucks by having a garage sale.
Live in Community
Not a commune, unless you’re into that, but community. Invite friends over for dinner instead of expensive dinners downtown. Create memories in your home, sharing your space, your life experience with others. Our homes can speak love and acceptance to others and isn’t that more valuable than sharing an overpriced dessert?
Protect Your Time
This one is hard because we often feel we miss out on something when we say no. We are afraid if we don’t show up we lose credibility or we will be demoted from the in-crowd to the outsiders. But let’s get real, if that is true, then please by all means FIND NEW FRIENDS! Your time is invaluable. Minimize your commitments to those that are investments in your goals, family, faith and passions.
In our house there is a small bucket on the entry way table that is labeled “Phone Bucket” and I have a reminder on my phone at 5pm to put it in the bucket. It’s purpose is to detach from our devices in favor of bonding to each other. With young kids our time together as a family on a typical weeknight is limited to only a few hours before bath and bed. I have spent many-a-night withholding valuable family time in favor of Facebook. Phones, tablets, computers, video games… whatever it is that distracts you from your life create a place and time to put it away for the sake of what really matters to you. There is no cooler human being than he who focuses on the important and meaningful over the wasteful and unfulfilling.
Purge the Closet
Fashion always dictates the coolness factor, right?! Right, when you’re in high school. Except not even then. Express your personal style with threads that you can afford and that are useful. I have twelve scarves in my closet right now, but I live in San Diego so they are not useful. A few items that we love will go a long way. And unlike my nightmares of being seen in the same item of clothing in the same week (and some items require a bi-weekly rotation) people just don’t pay that close attention. Let go of the items that you don’t wear, don’t like, or aren’t practical. You don’t have to look like a bum. You can still be your bad self with a little creativity and intention.
Let Go of Contempt
The easiest way to becoming a minimalist is to embrace an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude and contempt cannot co-habitate. Limit disregard and disrespect; give thanks. Limit judgement and complaining; give thanks. To be thankful for who you are, who you are becoming, and what you can offer your community is being a minimalist. And gratitude is very cool.
A minimalist isn’t about sacrificing the cool-factor. It enhances your coolness, it will make you more interesting, more engaging, and the most authentic version of yourself. You can’t get cooler than that.