Eliminate the discontent by adopting minimalism
When we become reasonably affluent and reasonably successful in life, we tend to neglect most basic needs of ours. We become so busy that we neglect proper food, proper sleep, we get isolated from our friends, isolated from family members, and stress becomes our only companion. How much money is sufficient for us? Which car model, how big house, how much gold, what bank balance will make us happy? We have absolutely no answers. The greed for more drives us to become lonely in life; it leads us often discarding our health, our relationships, our zeal, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. It makes us so selfish and nothing seems to fulfill our desires. And, desires are very illusive in nature.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, there were two dominant theories in psychology. The first one was the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud; in his view, human beings are almost entirely driven by primitive urges like sex and aggression. These ever-present impulses must be managed if we are to live together in civilized society. This leaves many people terribly diverged at an unconscious level. A miserable, unfulfilled existence is avoidable if urges are managed well. And, the second theory is called behaviorism by J. B. Watson and B. F. Skinner in which human beings are compared to oversized lab rats; because human are programmed or conditioned to behave the way they do by factors outside of their control. They have no mind, no will of their own. Their feelings are not real and therefore do not matter. People are simply programmable machines who can be manipulated into doing anything. Both theories psychoanalysis and behaviorism had dehumanized our understanding of ourselves and what it means to be human.
In the middle of the previous century, Abraham Maslow’s need pyramid manifesto was introduced which makes us look inwardly to reflect on whether our lower level needs really are being met sufficiently and it also aims to show some possible ways to increase our exponential abilities to grow and thrive on the higher levels we seek. The lower level needs are physiological needs, security needs and social needs and the higher level needs are esteem needs and self actualization needs. Maslow said that people are trapped in never-ending needs and desires; when one need is satisfied the other crops up which leads to a struggle of mankind chasing to satisfy his unmet needs.
Minimalism helps us live purpose-driven life. What is minimalism? Minimalism is simply getting rid of the desire of excess in life and focusing on what is important so as to find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom. It helps us achieve something ‘higher’ in life. It inspires us to quick fix our personal or professional success, spiritual enlightenment or any other high level goal. It teaches us to be grounded and self-disciplined in life. And, above all it makes us happy and positive people.
Well, minimalism doesn’t say that it is inherently wrong with owning material possessions. But, when we have too much, it consumes our energy getting more and more attached to maintaining it. We assign such a lot of importance to our materialistic assets. Minimalism simply allows us to detach from the excess. There are many successful minimalists who lead appreciably different lives. It helps us reclaim our time; it allows us to live in the moment; pursue our passion; discover our mission thus allowing us to experience real freedom. It allows us focus on our health and helps grow as individuals by contributing beyond ourselves. By incorporating minimalism into our lives, we can get rid of superfluous attachments which drain our energies.
There is no strict code or an arbitrary set of rules to become accustomed to the minimalistic lifestyle. Yet, it is not all that easy to take the first step to the detachment. But, the fact is that once you adopt it, the journey gets easier and easier. To begin with, you need to make fundamental changes in your mindset, actions, and habits. It helps us to travel the life’s journey lighter because of lesser baggage. We need so little actually to survive. Minimalism creates more room for what is important. When we clear the clutter we lose that claustrophobic feeling and create the room to fill up our lives with meaning instead of redundant possessions. It allows us let go greed, debt, obsession and overtaxing. This in turn creates an opening to do the things we love, things that we never seem to have time for.
And, while practicing minimalism, we suddenly realize that all the stuff we are surrounded with is merely a distraction. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy comfort. After the initial comfort is satisfied, that’s where our obsession with money should end. It’s hard not to get roped into the consumerism trap. We therefore need constant reminders that it’s a false sense of happiness. While we enjoy the materialism, we should also recognize that it’s not all that worth it. When we cling onto too many things we only create bewilderment and puzzles; therefore, the fewer things we have to worry about, the more peace we get. It’s as simple as that.
With minimalism you naturally de-cluttering our life; happiness naturally comes because you gravitate towards the things that matter most. You see clearly the false promises in all the clutter, it’s like a broken shield against life’s true essence. It also makes you more efficient and thus you will find more time to concentrate by having refocused your priorities. There is really a lot of joy by enjoying slowing down. When you look at monks, they have no fear because they don’t have anything to lose. That brings such a lot of relief and charm to their life. In whatever you wish to pursue you can excel, if you aren’t plagued with the fear of losing all your worldly possessions. Obviously you need to take the appropriate steps to put a roof over your head, but also know that you have little to fear except fear itself.
The entire minimalist lifestyle promotes individuality and self reliance. This will make you more confident in your pursuit of happiness. Minimalism reduces the amount of distractions to allow us to enjoy and focus on the main message of a piece of art.
Historically, Buddhist monks were allowed to own only 8 possessions; their robe which consisted of 3 pieces of fabric, a begging bowl, girdle, water-filter, a needle to repair their robe, and a razor to shave their head. They spent studying their scriptures and living by the path Buddha outlined, eventually endeavoring Nirvana. Buddha taught that suffering is caused because of desires and cravings. The Bible is also packed full of Minimalist ideals. The Bible states very clearly that life is about following God, not amassing possessions. Distractions are to be discarded and selflessness is praised.
Minimalism is slowly picking up steam. There are lots of youngsters adopting minimalistic lifestyles. I salute them all whole-heartedly for their guts. It’s not too late for us to re-prioritize our lives around those things which would really make us happy by discarding those things that we don’t really need. We’ve been trained subconsciously to amass wealth; the economy benefits when we can’t control our cravings, but if we decide, we can snap out of it. Enjoy minimalism!!