Chapter VII: How to Become A Hybrid Minimalist
“Owning less is better than organizing more.” ~ Joshua Becker
There is a very definite cycle in the modern world. You work hard, make tons of money, and purchase all the things you have dreamed. Now you work harder to keep all your possessions in good order. You are trapped in a job you don’t really like, but you need to pay for the lifestyle you have become accustomed. You are determined to make your life work which causes stress, ulcers, back problems, and unhappiness.
Another scenario, you work hard during the week at a job you enjoy. The weekend or days off come, and you are able to use the stuff you have worked hard to purchase. You love your life of owning a boat, a nice house and an awesome car. You know possessions are fleeting, but they give you pleasure and contentment.
Everyone has a different way to be happy. We value different things and what we own aligns to our own personal ethics. Materialism or minimalism, it doesn’t matter. Look at your life and see whether the way your life is in position with your values, your wants and desires, and your happiness. If you find that stuff is crowding your life; pare it down. If your inner peace asks you to rejoice over your next big deal, then have a party and celebrate your “stuff”. Your inner peace, or the state of being you create within yourself, is what is important. It should not matter what philosophy is trending or whether or not people think you are materialistic (Logue, 2015).
Extreme or dogmatic minimalism involves living with very few possessions; often less than 100 items. Forming your minimalist life makes you happy. You long to follow the premise of getting rid of material possessions and uncomplicated your life. You believe that your stuff drains your bank accounts, your energy, and attention. Possessions keep you from enjoying the ones you love and living a life based purely on values. This type of minimalism would be difficult for anyone to follow unless you are unattached and jobless.
At the same time you are trying to keep your stuff under control which causes you to become a slave to minimums. Your life and lifestyle becomes unfulfilling and stressful. Are you any happier than the individual who works hard and purchases stuff?
The answer lies in moderation. Many minimalists turn to rational or balanced minimalism to reconcile their needs and wants. Rather than the term minimalist that conjures up images of barren walls, destitution, and empty cupboards, a rational minimalist balances what they have. They organize, de-clutter, and put together a plan for simplicity. A minimalist family who lives a minimalist lifestyle, owns a television, couches, family photos, and chairs. This family has more than one coat to wear and t-shirts overflow drawers. There are books, crafts, and toys in different rooms of their home. What they do have is an organized home and items that are not duplicates. They define what a minimalist lifestyle means to them – having only the essentials and determining themselves what those essentials are. They have established a life that is not identical to anybody else’s; it is their life and theirs alone, and they call it minimalism
Becoming a minimalist or following a materialistic lifestyle requires that you develop the style to fit your needs. Ask questions, and identify what you most value. Be humble enough to change when necessary. Every practice of minimalism must look different from anyone else’s. If you are a collector of antiques, stamps or salt and pepper shakers and you love music and movies plus sports and books, you can keep them in your minimalist lifestyle. Minimalist living should be based on your values, passions, and desires. Be rational.
The world of work feeds your desires for ambition and wanting more. How do you balance your ambitions, have a successful career, without losing your contentment and getting drawn into a cycle of purchasing, maintaining, and hoarding? One answer would be finding a job you like, one are good at doing, a job that pays well, and a job that brings out satisfaction, and friendships.
Finding balance in minimalism takes teamwork. Don’t be dismayed if you make many mistakes along the way. Balance what you have with what you need and remove those unneeded things from your life. Find space to promote the things you most value; remove distractions. Learn to balance your life between the extremes of consumerism and extreme minimalism.
Balance minimalism with having stuff and keep your attitude to yourself. Yes, minimalism has become the new rage, and it is trendy to say, we don’t have a TV.” How often have your heard this statement said with a haughty attitude. Yet, you see these same minimalists allowing children to play in the street.
Forced minimalism is when you are coerced into minimizing because of a job loss, divorce, legal action or homelessness. You give everything away to the point that all you have, maybe, is a bed and one blanket. Forced minimalism will not make you happy; it is not a good situation.
Not everyone who embraces minimalism takes the philosophy to the limit. You don’t really have to sacrifice your precious stuff. All you need to do is take advantage of all getting rid of excess and having an attitude of living with only what you need.
Minimalism advocates experiences. No one disputes the idea that experiences are long lasting, but what if the things you purchase are what makes the memories? Everything you own and value should represent something: memories, happy times, family get reunions and learning, achieving and receiving.
This lifestyle might work well for a single person who travels quite a bit and has no permanent home, but it is much more difficult for a family to practice extreme minimalism.
Balance your life by getting rid of items that are of little or no use and keep items that are useful in a day to day life. Cleaning out stuff is the beginning of living a balanced but minimal life.
Equalize your life by being practical. Being a practical minimalist means you still have stuff, but you think about what you have. You make tangible choices and think about what you are doing. The result can be a weight lifted from your life. Declutter mindfully and slowly. Don’t let the change overwhelm you or your family.
A Balanced Materialist Lifestyle
Live your materialistic life. Your possessions may define who you are, and that’s okay. Have an awareness of what is around you and notice how things really are. Just avoid worshipping materials things, possessions, and money. Let your stuff work for you instead of against you. You can use your material possessions to experience life and do the things you love and value.
Society urges us to be consumers. You become a working class citizen to make enough money to enjoy possessions. To balance this concept, you don’t need to become a minimalist, you just need to be smart. Purchase what you need and want and take care of it. Avoid worshipping stuff. Stuff is just stuff, and it can be replaced.
Buying stuff is not a bad thing. Purchasing runs the economy. If you enjoy spending $150 on a pair of leather shoes that will last you at least years, then this is your happiness. If you need to have a smart phone, video games or a television to be happy, that is your bliss. The whole idea to living a minimalist lifestyle is to find a way to stop giving so much meaning to your stuff. Again, let your stuff work for you, not the other way around.
Balance materialism with the things you want. Make all the money you can. Money is important, and use that money not only for materialistic things, but to maintain a balance with spirituality and giving. Money is important for happiness. It may not be the most essential component of happiness, but could you really say that a homeless beggar is truly happy even though he is living a minimalist lifestyle?
Everyone wants to succeed, do better, and improve their lives. Minimalists would be liars if they denied wanted to improve. Their whole life depends on improvement and change.
Every year that technology increases you purchase bigger and better things for you and your family. You experience them, use them for good, and are proud of what you have purchased. Would you really like to turn the clock back one hundred years and live a minimalist lifestyle without the conveniences of a modern, materialistic life?
Materialism is also an attitude. Learning to balance minimalism with materialism means you get rid of things that you don’t use anymore, and you pass your stuff to others who can use them. Repurpose, recycle, and reuse. The joy of minimalism is hanging on to your precious stuff and memories, but letting go of past items that bring your distress.
Refocusing your life off of materials possession and workaholic actions, to your family. Avoid maintaining all your stuff; get rid of things that re not useful. Minimalism states, when the unnecessary stuff is gone, you have less maintenance, and you can focus your time and energy on those possessions and people that are important to you.
Balance materialism and having stuff by getting rid of the stuff you don’t use and trade it in for items you will use. For example, if you have a boat sitting in the driveway that is costing you in registration and maintenance fees and you never use this boat, sell it. Purchase something that will bring joy and experiences to your family.
Simplify your workload. Think about every project and obligation you are asked to do. Don’t pile work on top of work. Make a choice in the projects you take on before agree to more obligations. Drop those useless things that do not mean much in your life. Letting go of extra activities can give you more time to pursue your passions, and get the most of your life.
Get rid of toxic and boring relationships from your life. Surround yourself with people who think like you and have substance. Get rid of those people in your social media lists who do nothing for you. Spend time with the people you love who enrich your life. Balance your stuff with your emotions, friends, and relationships. Find equilibrium between living as a minimalist or a materialistic life. Do this by determining what is important to you.
Learn to love what you do for work and money. There are many people who have high paying jobs that they love. They don’t squander their money on stuff that is meaningless. They save for the things they want and are happy saving and planning. There are many more people who know how to organize, live simply, yet hold stuff.
Balance in Decluttering and Organizing
The problem with decluttering and turning to a minimalist lifestyle is the stuff just doesn’t disappear. The results of your de-cluttering and cleaning up needs to go somewhere. There is no way to decrease or increase the matter in the universe. Stuff just rearranges and moves to someplace else. You are not a minimalist when you just toss our stuff into the trash. You have now selfishly rid yourself of possessions, and placed this stuff somewhere else. Perhaps the answer to becoming a minimalist is to seek to move things that are out of place to where they might best be used (Rich, 2011).
In the book Simplify by Joshua Becker (a minimalist blogger), there are seven guiding principles to help anyone declutter their home and mind. While it is true that getting rid of clutter is awesome, what do you do if you have gotten rid of items that you occasionally need? Recently a new minimalist was looking for a great cut class bowl to take to a party. Of course, since it was not used or needed, it had been discarded. It was at the moment the minimalist realized that the bowl had significant value both in money and sentiment. Minimalism can kill your heritage.
Homes are drowning in stuff. Most of you take in more and more and never find the opportunity to discard. Your homes fill up with duplicates and more stuff. You want to organize and keep everything. You purchase bigger containers and organization tips and tricks, but never organize stuff. Organizing possessions is an action that needs to be taken all the time, and this is not a minimalist attitude.
Balancing between minimalism and stuff is getting rid of stuff you no longer use so you can purchase things that will bring you happiness, be more useful, and bring more efficiency to your life.
Organizing is rearranging; remove excess stuff before purchasing more stuff. You can be an awesome consumer by following these few tips and tricks:
If the stuff you have sitting on a shelf benefits no one, throw it away. Give it to friends who might use the item.
If you have stuff that does not solve debt problems; sell it. Don’t build storage closets or shelters just to house your stuff; get rid of it.
Organization does not prevent you from purchasing items that are duplicate items. Get rid of things you don’t use.
While rearranging your stuff, you might want to evaluate why you have this stuff. Removing possessions from your home forces you to question the useful value of our stuff. Decide what possessions are truly most important and valuable to you.
Organizing provides a temporary lift to attitudes. It clears rooms and cleans out your mind. Now throw away duplicates and pave the way for major lifestyle changes. Think about where you are going.
Minimalism means decluttering. However, you should not let this philosophy turn your home into a monk’s cell. There are tips and tricks to decluttering that will balance minimalism.
Organize first and buy second. It is not necessary to go out and buy storage pieces and supplies when sorting through your home. Avoiding purchasing storage pieces; this combines both frugality and minimalism. You don’t need those pretty boxes and bins if they don’t fit the space you have. Hold what you need these storage containers to hold and make sure they function for your particular space. Clean out first, assess what you need and then purchase a few things. You can always add mores storage bins and items, but you don’t want to purchase storage containers to clutter up your home.
Do not set aside the entire day to minimalize your home. No one has the energy or focus to spend all day organizing and decluttering. You will become frustrated and less efficient. Spend a few hours on one project or space. By working in small bites, you will not get burned out by the process. In addition, you will not throw away valuable times just to follow a minimalist philosophy.
Finish each decluttering task completely before moving on to something else. Once you have decided where something is going to go. In other words, never keep bags for charity or things to go to a friend in your home to deliver later. Do it right the first time. Take the bags and boxes out to the curb or recycling plant immediately. If you are donating things put the items in your car and make sure you deliver them the same day. Complete the deal or you will find yourself pulling stuff out of bags and boxes and keeping it.
Do not think once you have decluttered your space you are done. You have created a new and efficient system for processing and managing your stuff. Once you have decluttered, use the frugal approach and do not think about purchasing the same item again. Do regular clean up, but do not become obsessive compulsive. Avoid minimalist thinking that everything must go. Be practical and keep those items that you will need now and in the future. Avoid duplicates; that is the balance.
Be sensible. Your space will never look like those magazine pictures of awesome storage and decluttered places. If perfection is your goal, you will be disappointed. Your goal is to set up a space that works for you. Success is putting your hands on your hips at the end of the day and feeling satisfied with your work.
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it” (Becker, 2015). Don’t let the term minimalist bring up images of destitution, small homes, barren walls, and no food in the cupboard. No stuff is not the way to enjoy life. Become rational and unfussy and keep the things, and the stuff, that is most valuable to you.
Look for a lifestyle that works for you. Use your imagination and find a style that is not cumbersome, but frees you based on your passions and desires. Your ultimate happiness does not depend on “less is more” or “keeping up with the Jones’.” It is your attitude about what makes you secure, happy, and fulfilled.
“Choices are the hinges of destiny” ~ Pythagoras
There is a definite downside to minimalism. Everything has a cost, and everyone has needs, things that need to be done, duties and the need for stuff. Those that choose to keep only 100 possessions or less and give up their cars, phones, and homes are actually shifting their burdens to those around them. They are becoming more reliant on others instead of themselves. This seems to be counter to one of the rules of minimalism – take care of yourself.
The less stuff you have, the more likely you will have to borrow someone else’s stuff. Now you are relying on someone else not be a minimalist so you can borrow what you need. You have to rely on others for rides to and from work.
A minimalist means you are dependent on others, and they expect something in return for their generosity. You promise to do something for them, but you don’t since you are minimalist and forget what is going on. Being reliant on others is not simplification. It is stressful and frustrating on both parties.
Keeping your possessions to a bare minimum makes it very unlikely that you will be prepared when disasters strike. Again, you are taking from others to serve your own needs.
It is not practical to cut yourselves off from the world by getting rid of technology or your cell phones and computers. Even people in third world countries have cell phones. If you use technology properly, you will keep your independence.
Severely limiting what you own makes it difficult to get anything done. You don’t have the tools to work, you end up wasting time, and you are unproductive. The job doesn’t get done properly. This is frustrating to you and on your friends and family.
You will never get others on board with a minimalistic lifestyle when they see how you live. You are constantly borrowing, being unreliable, and some-what self-centered. Being a minimalist is an uphill battle in today’s image conscious world. Minimalism in its extreme form is not good for anyone. Take a more balanced approach to minimalism if you must.
Minimalism should never be entered into without a great deal of thought. Minimalism can be good for you, and you may never regret following through with your decision.
Minimalism is a choice to live in a counter-cultural. Your life has revolved around the need to consume and collect. Now, once you have become a minimalist you reject those consuming and collecting messages and choose to live a simple life instead.
A minimalist lifestyle places experiences above stuff. It is, however, more than just throwing away clutter and organizing. It is a journey that takes part in your mind, soul, and heart. Choosing to be a minimalist will affect your entire world. Your emotions will need to be re-evaluated, and your values will be rocked.
At its very core, minimalism in the intentional decluttering or putting aside the things you most value. It means for you to remove anything that detracts you from the valuable emotions, thoughts and experiences in your life. As you ponder becoming a minimalist, you may think that you have spent too much of your life pursuing things that are not all that valuable. You are now stressed because you have spent your entire life pursuing stuff. You begin to be plagued with “what ifs” and “whys”. Minimalism can drive you crazy with these thoughts.
Minimalism denies the world that invents, produces, and promotes. Everyone loves their stuff. Stuff is security, who you are, and how you think about yourself. When your mindset has changed to simplify, society will be somewhat unforgiving. Culture looks much different when you get rid of stuff. You may think you will be happy and not regret your decisions to get rid of stuff. But people are creatures of habit, and acquiring stuff is what people do. You will soon regret that cell phone you tossed, your lack of furniture, and your old job, friends, and possibly some of your family.
Minimalists state that you will have more time, more freedom, more money, and much less stress. Your lifestyle will change. You will get out of debt, work less, travel more, and be one of the thousands of bloggers writing about minimalist. Really? How do you travel more without funds and stuff, how will you get out of debt without a job? Or the possibility of promotion? You simplify your life to the extent that you are not passionate about what you do; you go nowhere in your career.
Becoming a minimalist will cause you to be an anomaly. You will love telling people about your decision to radically simplify, and they will find you unattractive, different and weird. They will step back from you at neighborhood and friend parties, leave you out of their plans, and treat you as too unusual to be around.
You have removed the stuff in your life now it is time to simplify your commitments, your goals, your diet, and your relationships. The decision to become minimalist will affect your entire life.
Think about the real downsides of minimalism before you jump into the fray:
Craigslist, eBay, and Goodwill are you friends. They own more of your stuff than you do.
No longer do you browse shopping sites and you have no reason to go shopping. Now, what do you do with your spare time?
You might have enough money to travel so you grab your carry-on. As you enter customs, officers are a bit suspicious that you are really staying in their country for a month or more. This is a true scenario. A minimalist couple traveling overseas was stopped by customs for having too little luggage for their intended stay.
You friends will continually tease you since you only have two shirts. You are a joke among your friends and acquaintances.
No one asks you to go on road trips, to bars or out to dinner anymore. They know you will not offer to pay. You will expect everyone else to pay for you.
You sneak into malls and are very afraid that your acquaintances will see you and judge you as a hypocrite.
You don’t have a television, and now you have to find other things to do. You can read or exercise. You will miss out on all the latest trends in fashion, food, and fun.
You don’t buy gifts for the family or your friends anymore. The real downside, you don’t get gifts either.
You will be accused of being trendy. People will wonder what a minimalist is and why you would want to be one.
Your clothes become frayed and faded. You are no longer welcome in good restaurants or at parties with friends.
When you have visitors, you get antsy about all the stuff they are bringing into your home. You want them to leave, and you get cranky and irritable.
When you visit other people’s homes, you mentally start clearing out their rooms.
If you have children, there is no way you are a minimalist.
People will feel threatened by you. They believe you are criticizing them for their materialistic lifestyle. You friends no longer show you their new technology and heaven forbid if you find out they have purchased a new car.
You don’t have a car. You can no longer do your share of giving rides and helping out when others are stranded. Also, people will think you are poor and jobless. If you are continually asking for rides, your friends and family will soon tell you to take the bus.
To be or not to be a minimalist. That is the question. Minimalism is very difficult to define precisely. If you believe minimalism is defined by cutting back, consuming less, and being more thoughtful in regards to value, it is a great premise.
Materialism or holding on to stuff is also important. Ignore the definition that materialism has a tendency to worship material possessions and physical comfort more than spiritual values. Not so! People enjoy their comforts. It his were not so would you strive to live in a nice home, have awesome stuff around you, and snuggle up in a fuzzy blanket when you need comfort? There is nothing that says you can’t be materialistic and spiritual at the same time. Take the example listed before, “There is nothing wrong with having and holding possessions. The Bible is full of stories of those who own much. How do minimalists reconcile God’s riches with a desire to live a minimalist lifestyle? “God’s home, the Temple, was adorned with gold beyond imagination” (Ps50:10).
Do take a long and hard look at your life. You can cut back in places that don’t really matter. You can be intentional, but avoid getting rid of all your stuff just to be “trendy”. Live a simpler life, but keep what is important to you even if you crowd your space a bit with stuff.
It is true that most consumers do have way too much stuff, and much more than we need. It is an awesome thought to simplify. Stand back and examine what you can do without and where you can cut back. Balance minimalist with practicality. Be sensible in what you try to do without.
Think consciously about what you are doing when contemplating minimalism. Think about how you will spend your time. Minimalizing is pretty terrifying when you are trying to get exactly where you want to be. It is much easier to fill your life with distractions. Balance your stuff with experiences, memories, and value. Take a good hard look at where you are going with your lifestyle and be happy with who you are.