At its core, minimalism is about reassessing your priorities. What really matters to you and what is just excess?
Minimalism is a philosophy that allows you to cut things out of your life that don't provide value. It's not just about decluttering - it's a philosophy that radiates through everything you do. By trimming excesses, you end up simplifying your life, which ultimately gives you freedom.
Freedom from Debt - Since you're only spending money on things that matter and not spending extra money on stuff you don't need, you end up with extra money in your pocket each month. That extra money quickly adds up and allows you to pay off your debts and start spending money on things that actually bring real value to your life.
Freedom of Time - Just like money, time is another finite resource you have (in fact, it's arguably the most important valuable you have). In this case, you're reducing the time you spend on things that don't matter so that you can focus on the things that do. Are you spending hours in front of the television each day? Wouldn't that time be better spent catching up with an old friend or spending it with your family? Perhaps learning a new skill? Are you saying "yes" to everything and quickly accumulating burdens and obligations? Cutting out wasted time frees you up to spend it deliberately.
Freedom from Clutter - This is what most people think about when they think of minimalism. Minimalism allows you to get rid of the physical stuff in your life that doesn't bring you any value. Do you have a collection of books that you often read and bring great joy to your life? Keep them - don't throw them out! It's not about getting rid of everything you own, but rather, taking a hard look at what you do own and making sure that every object in your possession is there for a purpose and brings you value. It's not just about getting rid of stuff you have now that doesn't bring value, but also preventing new stuff from coming in that doesn't have value.
Freedom from Stress - Minimalism allows you to step out of the rat race. It teaches you self-control and forces you to realize that possessions don't make you a different person. You stop comparing yourself with others, you begin to rediscover yourself and what's actually important, and you feel like what you have is enough rather than just constant, mindless consumption. You feel enlightened.
"If you always want more, more, more, you're headed for trouble. There's a term for mindless growth - it's called cancer."
What Minimalism Isn't
There are many misconceptions about minimalism out there. You'll also encounter many cynical people who have a dramatically opposed, almost visceral reaction to the idea of embracing a minimalist philosophy (a few thoughts on why people believe the things they do).
Typically in these cases, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what minimalism is all about.
Minimalism doesn't mean you have to get rid of everything you own.
Minimalism doesn't mean that you can't own a car.
Minimalism isn't some kind of fad, reserved for young, single white males from privileged backgrounds.
Minimalism is not some sort of religion or cult - being dogmatic or absolutist in regards to minimalism is missing the point entirely.
However, minimalism IS all about reassessing your priorities and removing things from your life that don't matter.
In The End
In the end, there are no bonus points for how much stuff you had when you die. Similarly, there are no bonus points for how little stuff you had when you die. Minimalism isn't about "stuff" - it's about making sure that you enjoy life to the fullest with what you have.
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