Last Christmas, I felt myself falling into the trap that most, if not all, of my generation are falling into. The idea that you are defined by what you have. Not skills, or intangible qualities, but rather the physical things you own. The idea that the bigger house, the more expensive car, or the luxury clothing you have means that you are happy and successful. Every person should strive to have top-notch items in their possession. It’s the American Dream, right?
What happens when it’s darn near impossible to reach that expectation? Should we be unhappy with not having the best of the best? If we don’t have anything tangible to show for the success that we have had, are we truly successful? The answer is yes.
This past summer I had a realization that my stress was due to this expectation. I was struggling to make ends meet, but not because I wasn’t earning enough. The problem was that my priorities were completely backwards. It was more important to me that I had the newest iPhone, or the best Nike shoes even if I didn’t use them as often as I had planned. I was more worried about how my instagram looked rather than how much time I was spending with my family. The sad part is that because of my backwards priorities, I wasn’t the only one who suffered.
Jump forward a couple months. I gave the idea of minimalism a shot. Now, I had heard of minimalism before, but I was always a bit scared of jumping into it head first. What if I got rid of something that I needed later on? What if I accidentally threw out an important document or sentiment? This was a bit of a crazy extreme way of thinking of it, but it was a real fear nonetheless. Before I delve into how I eased into minimalism, it’s important to understand what minimalism is.
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom. – The Minimalists
Minimalism isn’t meant to be a restriction. There aren’t concrete guidelines you have to adhere to in order to “qualify” as a minimalist. Minimalism is a mindset. A mindset that it’s okay to live with less. It’s okay to not own that designer dress or that luxury sports car. At the same time, if having those things bring you genuine joy, then go for it! As long as it doesn’t destroy you if you don’t have them. That’s the important thing.
I’m by no means a full-on minimalist, I’m still in the process of transitioning. It’s a slow progression, but I am choosing to do it thoughtfully and carefully. I am reordering my priorities in a way that will bring me true happiness and joy every day. With the new year, I’m hoping that I can find freedom to enjoy life the way that I want to, even if it goes against the norm.