Aim for a Mindful + Meaningful Life, Not a Minimal One

Aim for a Mindful + Meaningful Life, Not a Minimal One

How many YouTube videos have you watched and audio books have you listened to on minimalism, simplifying and decluttering this year? How many books have you read on self-care? 

Raise your hand if you’ve attempted — and tragically failed — at achieving what all the videos, books, and podcasts said you needed to do in order to find happiness in owning less stuff.

{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.

Come on, raise them up! Are the both in the air?

{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 work week, and retiring early?

As one of the many who became intrigued, and then obsessed, with almost all these concepts in the last five years, 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 past what I consider deprivation 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 clutter found in your life (physical or mental).

In the last five years, I've been obsessively inspired by lifestyle that minimalism has made. But these days, I feel minimalism's trendiness has made what it's defined as unobtainable.

Let me start by saying, I have found freedom in owning less stuff, focusing my attention, and living simply, but these practices weren't the basis of me finding happiness. I've actually come to find that happiness isn’t going to be found in lack of ownership or denial of creature comforts or empty crevices within my 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 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.

The minimal living trend and minimalist lifestyle 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 Chuck Palahniuk as 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 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).

This is why focus on living a mindful, meaningful life, not a minimal one. 

By focusing on meaning, I find my life is extremely rich. It's full of experiences and interactions that I mindfully participate in. Full of depth and memory. 

Discovering what was meaningful in my life that brought me to find and embrace what made me happy. In the end, yes meant owning a lot less physical possessions, being selective on who and I work on, and being very selective in what I devoted my energy to –– but it never meant giving everything up. It simply required editing. 

And guess what, I still own a fair amount of stuff -- including horses!

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.

From there you can move forward. So skip the trends and don’t overuse the gurus. Use the podcasts, modalities, self-guided resources or books you’re drawn to 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

Subscribe Our Newsletter

* indicates required

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.