Minimalism is one of those buzzwords that I’ve been encountering everywhere over the past few years. Be it on the Internet, in newspapers or through films. Netflix also jumped on the bandwagon and explains to us how we should clean up our house and our lives in order to finally be happy and free (tidying up with Marie Kondo).
But what is minimalism anyway?
Minimalism is described as a ‘conscious limitation to a minimum, to the bare minimum’. Most of the definitions that can be found online include this conscious renunciation, but also the focus on what is not only necessary but personally important. So if you have fewer unnecessary things, you should be freer inside and can concentrate on what makes you really happy – people, experiences and inner values – at least that’s the idea. But is that really true?
Minimalism from a Digital Nomad Perspective
I have been travelling the world as a digital nomad for almost 5 years, with my backpack and laptop and not much more. Since I don’t have a home for which I could buy nice things and no wardrobe that is infinitely big, I hardly buy things anymore. I have been able to walk past shops for quite some time without thinking: oh, I want that. I have clothes that I like and that suit me. I wear what is clean at the moment and suits the weather.
To be honest, I waste surprisingly little thought on my clothes or my looks and this is indeed one of the greatest advantages of minimalism from my point of view. My head is actually free for other things. Since I have little, I don’t have to tidy up much and since I often only stay in one place for a few weeks, I don’t really have to clean much.
Minimalism in your mind?
Just because my head is not full of material possessions or the next spring clean doesn’t mean that my head is only full of the really important or beautiful things. As much as the reduction of one’s own possessions can help on the way to inner happiness, it is by no means enough.
Even without material possessions, I can spend the whole day senselessly on the Internet, scrolling endlessly through Facebook or Instagram, or watching a new episode of one series after another. I can get angry, worried, worry about my future, past or work. I can write to-do lists and not stick to them. So yes, reducing material possessions and simplifying life can be a very good step. But it is by no means sufficient. The actual work only begins afterwards.
Tips to be happy through minimalism
Here are a few tips if you want to be happier with fewer possessions:
- Get rid of things you don’t need – especially those that make you feel bad (the pants you don’t fit into, the dress that was super expensive but you never wore, you know the items I mean, don’t you?)
- Create more freedom (internally and externally) through conscious reduction. If necessary, start small and work your way forward slowly.
- But also think about what you actually want to make room for. There is little point in creating free space just to fill it with worries and musings!
- If you are aware of what is really important to you, consider how you can realign your life accordingly. What can you do today to get a little closer to your goal? How about calling an old friend instead of shopping, for example? Cooking yourself instead of ordering food? Closing those 20 tabs that are open on your laptop right now? Or maybe just sit in the tidy living room with a good book and enjoy the peace and quiet?
When was the last time you caught yourself spending your time in a “meaningless way”? And what are you doing about it?