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Aim for a Mindful, Not Minimal, Life

How many articles have you read on minimalism this month? 

How many books have you read on self-care? 

Raise your hand if you’ve attempted — and tragically failed — at achieving what all the articles, books, and podcasts said to do.

{Is your hand up?}

Now, raise the other hand if you’ve discovered:

  1. Hygge didn’t make you happy.
  2. KonMari didn’t declutter your mind after decluttering your home.
  3. Minimalism only prompted you to buy more things.

{Are your hands up in surrender?}

Are you like me? Are you utterly exhausted trying to find “what makes you happy” and “what your passions are” in pursuit of becoming a millionaire, having a four-hour workweek, and retiring early?

As one of the many who became intrigued, and then obsessed, with almost all the concepts above, lately, I’ve found myself asking:

 “Has the quest for a minimalistic lifestyle full of passion, devoid of material possessions, and full of unlimited freedom started to do more harm than good?”

Has the constant pursuit of “letting go of what doesn’t serve you” left people in places that are worse than where they started?

Has the curbing of our consumption left us even more bankrupt — physically, financially, and mentally?

I’ve come to learn that living a free-spirited, semi-nomadic, minimalist lifestyle doesn’t help you find HYGGE and no amount of KonMari will set free you from the clutter found in your life (physical or mental).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m inspired by stories related to minimalism; but I feel minimalism's trendiness has made what it's defined as unobtainable.

I firmly believe that happiness isn’t going to be found in lack of ownership or denial of creature comforts and empty crevices found within our homes. I’ve found that:

Happiness is subjective. Happiness is going to be found in living a life that is suited to you and what you need, as the person you are.

Happiness is not one size fits all, nor should it be. What works for one person won’t work for others — and that’s okay.

The minimal living trend was a rebellion against our over-consumptive culture. From natural resources to goods sold, Americans consume more than any other country around the globe; it’s our consumption that is making us unhappy. We are taught that we always need more, should have more, should do more.

Deprivation doesn’t work. Diets and budgets don’t work, so what makes us think extreme minimalism will either? 

So, what’s the cure? Well, it’s not to get rid of everything you own or going to extremes.

The answer definitely isn’t to keep acquiring things hoping they make you happy. You need to figure out what you need and don’t need, which requires a deeper look inside yourself.

Acquiring things –- physical items, people, situations –– has physical and emotional connections. Inward reflection can sometimes be painful, but it can often reveal why you are acquiring things (the outward manifestation of an unmet emotional need).

Instead of minimal, I aim for mindful.

By aiming for mindful, I find my life is extremely meaningful. Discovering what was meaningful in my life that brought me to find and embrace what made me happy.

In the end, it meant owning a lot less physical possessions, scaling back clients, and letting go of personal relationships –– but it never meant giving everything up.

When it comes to constructing a life worth living, only you can do that. Books, podcasts, videos, yoga, and {insert your self-help tools here} can help you in that search, but only to a point. Health and wellness trends come and go, self-help fads fail.

Making incremental changes along the way is how you’ll find yourself. And once you find yourself, you’ll be able to start the journey to discover what’s right for you.

Do you need help to do it? Yes! But it starts with you.

From there you can move forward. So skip the trends and don’t overuse the gurus. Use what you’re drawn to start your journey and go from there, but make sure that you create your own path.

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” — Marilyn Vos Savant

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