Aim for a Mindful Life, Not a Minimal One

Aim for a Mindful Life, Not a Minimal One

For over a decade, I was obsessed with minimalism, and minimalists.

Every Audible book, TED talk, or YouTube video on minimalism available online? I've read it or watch it at least five times. 

From 2010-2020, I tried to become a successful minimalist, I've sold everything I've owned three times, moved across the country twice, and even lived in an my 130 square foot RV on a my friend's horse ranch. 

Guess what I discovered:

  1. Hygge didn’t make you happy.
  2. KonMari didn’t declutter my mind after decluttering my home.
  3. Minimalism only prompted me to buy more things. Usually the things I got rid of in the first place. 

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 worse off  than where they started?

Has the the message of "curbing of our consumption" past a point of what could be considered DEPRIVATION. Has it left us even more bankrupt — spiritually, 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 physical clutter found in your home or the mental clutter in your mind. 

Minimalism isn't how you find happiness. Why, because 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 based on embracing inner aspects of yourself. And also, 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.

In my view, minimalism 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, should want more - strive, strive, strive. Acquire, get, covet.

{And let's thank Tyler Durden in Fight Club for saying, “the things you own end up owning you.”}

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

So, what’s the answer? Spoiler alert: It’s not to get rid of everything you own or going to extremes.

Whatever you're seeking, happiness, fulfillment, purpose, simplicity, living a life that fits your definition of balance, which requires a deeper look inside yourself.

Inward reflection can sometimes be painful, but it can often reveal what you're really looking for.

For example, if you're unhappy, look at why you're feeling that way. 

  • What is it like for you when you're feeling unhappy?
  • When do these feelings of unhappiness usually arise?
  • What do you think might be causing these feelings of unhappiness?
  • How do these feelings of unhappiness impact your day-to-day life?
  • What do you think would make you feel happier?
  • What are some things that make you feel fulfilled or content?
  • Are there any activities or hobbies that bring you joy or make you feel peaceful?
  • What can you do to take care of yourself when you're feeling unhappy?
  • Is there anyone in your life that you can reach out to for support?
You can take it a bit further and ask yourself: 
  • What do you think is the source of your unhappiness and how can you address it?
  • What can you do to foster a sense of self-compassion and acceptance when you're feeling unhappy?
  • How do you think you can create a sense of balance in your life?

Mindfully exploring my thoughts, emotions, and desire to live a certain way, showed me that what I what I was looking for was inside me, not outside me. Minimalism was an outward representation of how I wanted my inner world to be.

I found that when it comes to constructing a life worth living, only you can do that. Books, podcasts, videos, healing modalities, and {insert your self-development tools here} can help you in that search, but only to a point.

As you start your journey of discovery, making incremental changes along the way is how you’ll find yourself. And spoiler alert, that's going to be going within yourself

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


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