Can minimalism be applied in real life?

I grew up in a household where things have been given a higher value than human sentiments. Things were gifted to show love. Things were taken to show resentment. Somehow I began to seek value in objects, for they hold such emotional significance. The desire of owning went so far I sometimes had to dig in a pile to find something I genuinely need. I put my sanctification on shopping than conversing with people. I felt exhausted, but I didn’t know what was going wrong. For I had so many things. Happiness should be just around the corner. One day, I was going through a documentary on Minimalism, and I understood where it was going wrong. Essentially a concept of recognizing the things that matter and intentionally let go of attachment towards people, objects and opportunities that have no value.

Tried and failed multiple times over the years, because of changing lifestyles, moving from a city to another, and often finding myself in the necessity of breaking free from this sudden limit. This limit frequently restricted me from pursuing certain creative projects. Nevertheless, I have periodically come back to practice it again, as it brought me a certain degree of peacefulness and helped me focus. Consumerism has normalized excess, excess of clothes, excess of food, excess of people, excess of entertainment and excess of information. Minimalism is not just physical but mental too. Not associating with toxic people, quitting habits that harm you in the long run and taking care of your physical self because they are all in the same ballpark. Concepts as minimalism and veganism have been distorted to look like quasi aesthetic cults on social media and the real notion is lost through ideas portrayed online. The idea of neutral aesthetics aids in finding balance, and shifting focus towards other problems that are crying for help.

So I came to certain conclusions. One being, minimalism does not have established rules as to how many possessions it is acceptable for you to keep since every person lives in varied conditions. Minimalism promotes not letting possessions weigh you down. It helps with mental clarity in our lifestyles where we are overcommitted to plans. It gives room to focus on personal aspirations and purpose in life. There is unparalleled freedom in being in control of your own desires and letting go of the pressure to validate yourself through owning possessions. Through physical declutter, your attention would shift to recognizing who you are, rather than what you own.


How to utilize and not exploit your purchasing power.

Once you start earning, capitalism provides many ventures to help you exercise your newly attained power of purchasing. As it expands we spend more, sometimes out of pseudo need and sometimes to replicate the nostalgia. We see advertisements almost every where, the moment we log into social media or walk out to the buy our daily groceries. So much product information often impairs our rational needs. We end up buying things we might not want, only out of peer consumerist behavior.

It is a normal phase for every adult who transitions into this phase. Our ultimate goal is to attain that utopian level of satisfaction. Somewhere we believe that those physical objects could bring us happiness, that happiness is ‘somewhere around the corner’ as Ryan Nicodemus says. This is also mistaken for the belief that real happiness could be achieved by the deprivation of objects. Perhaps not. Perhaps it is what we target for.

Based upon my experience, I compiled a checklist on how to know whether you actually need the product or service:

✓ When you pick the item/service, state three reasons why you exactly need it. Say that aloud.
✓ Will you use this item/service for more than five times?
✓ Is there a cheaper alternative for this item/service?
✓ Are you easily able to walk out of the check out portal/cash counter without buying the item/service?
✓ Do you love the item/service or the price?
✓ Does this fit in your budget?

While buying monthly groceries online, give yourself time of two days to plan the groceries. Check your fridge and pantry. Always following the rules above, you can double check in case you are buying any extra item. For groceries it is even more important because these are generally perishable being of consumable nature and wastage is even greater.

Create a budget based upon your average shopping activities and allocate money to it. Allow yourself to strictly follow the budget unless any item is of necessity as per the checklist above. By averaging, you should be able to budget while not withdrawing yourself of actual necessities. While it is good to allow yourself the comfort of your spending power, it is also necessary to not permit capitalism to abuse it.

It is absolutely normal to mindlessly buy an item or two at the start because we are not used to this routine. Give yourself time of twenty one purchases to settle in with the pattern. Do not give up practicing buying with awareness because you got back to your old habit once.