Do you feel overwhelmed by the many possessions that you have accumulated and the pressure to earn the money to buy yet more things? William Morris stated that everything we own should be either useful or beautiful. The ideas that he proposed more than one hundred years ago remain relevant to life in the twenty-first century, inspiring movements such as minimalism. They remind us to appreciate the quality of what we own, rather than focusing upon the quantity.
The Minimalist Movement
Minimalism is a movement in the creative arts, where a piece of work is reduced to its essential elements. It is also a way of living, in which you only own things because you need them or they improve your quality of life. Most of us own many things that we do not need and that do not add to our quality of life. We spent time earning the money to pay for them and might also pay for maintenance or storage.
For people who survive on a very low income, minimalism is not a lifestyle choice, but a necessity, as they can only afford to buy the basic essentials. However, if you are spending money on products and services that you want, rather than need, then minimalism might improve your quality of life. Only buying things that you will use and not replacing things unless they cannot be repaired also results in less waste, which is good both for the individual and the environment.
Simplifying Your Life
Make a list of all the things that you own and add each item into one of four groups. The first will be practical things that you need to keep, such as household goods and work tools, which should be placed where they are easy to access when needed. The second will be decorative items that are of value to you, or things that otherwise enhance your quality of life, which should be put where you can appreciate or benefit from them.
The third set of items will be those that are practical, but rarely used, have some sentimental value, or other items such as family heirlooms, which can be placed in clearly labelled storage containers. The fourth will be items that serve no practical purpose, do not enhance your quality of life and have no real value to you. These things should either be sold, providing you with more money to buy things you need, traded for something useful, or given away, benefiting other people.
Following a Minimalist Lifestyle
When following a minimalist lifestyle, you will be more likely to succeed if you begin from a position of self awareness and a positive outlook on life. Before looking for the acceptance and respect of others, you should find it for yourself and other people. Rather than trying to establish your sense of identity, self worth and status by accumulating material possessions, you should base it upon self development that will give your life more direction and purpose.
Whilst reducing the unnecessary clutter in your life, you could make room for more rewarding pursuits. For example, you could develop the skills needed to become a musician, artist or artisan, learn a foreign language, improve your life skills or study for qualifications to get a better job. This might increase your self confidence and ability to acquire the resources and status that you want, within a social group that shares your values, preferences and interests.
You might like to read a sample of the book Island of Arts and Crafts