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Embracing a Minimalist Lifestyle

Many people are familiar with the term minimalism, but some may not yet be acquainted with the minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism is not a new philosophy; it is an artistic, design, and product movement that has been evolving since the 1960s. This movement is heavily influenced by the Japanese Zen style, incorporating concepts such as 'ma,' meaning empty space, and 'seijaku,' meaning silence. Over time, minimalism has expanded into every aspect, from design to lifestyle.

Belajar Gaya Hidup Minimalis

The minimalist lifestyle is closely related to simplicity, avoiding excess, and prioritizing quality over quantity. Fumio Sasaki, an advocate of the minimalist lifestyle, stated in his book "Goodbye Things" that minimalism involves reducing the number of possessions to attain freedom.


Another notable figure who embraced the minimalist lifestyle was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. This is evident in his clothing choices and Apple's products, reflecting a minimalist philosophy. Steve was able to create products that "eliminate everything unnecessary to leave room for the essential."


For those interested in adopting a minimalist lifestyle, there are several key considerations.


Mindset

The primary principle of embracing a minimalist lifestyle is cultivating a minimalist mindset. Individuals with a minimalist mindset understand what is essential to them and maintain those elements in their lives. They lead a simple yet maximal life, ultimately leading to happiness. Though they may not possess many belongings, the few they have are highly functional and valuable.


As you read this article, take a moment to look around your room or home. Are there items rarely used or causing discomfort due to clutter? Adopt a minimalist mindset by identifying what is essential to you and preserving those elements.

Belajar Gaya Hidup Minimalis
Steve Jobs was a proponent of minimalism. Image by medium.com

Declutter

After adopting a minimalist mindset, the next step is decluttering. Discard unnecessary and unused items, starting with obvious trash or damaged items, such as torn clothes. Continue by eliminating idle items. As a rule, if you haven't seen or used an item in the past year, you likely won't use it again. Get rid of it.


A cluttered room makes it challenging to focus on activities. Keep only essential items or those actively used. This activity helps in learning to organize, keep, and discard items based on their utility and necessity.

Belajar Gaya Hidup Minimalis
Fumio Sasaki stands before his wardrobe, which consists only of a few clothes. Image by Japan Times.

Needs vs Wants

To embrace a minimalist lifestyle, distinguish between needs and wants. Needs are limited, while wants tend to be unlimited. Needs remain constant and unchanging, while wants vary based on individual preferences. Each person has different tastes, abilities, and living environments, leading to varying standards for meeting desires.


For example, consider a bicycle. The need is for a bike for exercise, while the want may be a branded one. If the primary need is met with any brand, there's no need for a branded bicycle. The key is fulfilling the need, which is exercising.

Avoid Adding Items

Avoid buying something just because it's on sale or obtaining items just because they're free. Resist purchasing two items for supposed savings when only one is needed. Such actions only contribute to unnecessary possessions. If there's an empty space in a room, resist the urge to fill it simply to avoid it being empty. For instance, a corner in the living room might stay empty, eliminating the need for additional furniture. Adding more items means accumulating unnecessary belongings.

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Naoki Numahata in his 'empty' living room. Image by Thomas Peter/Reuters.

Substitution

The minimalist principle involves reducing possessions, preserving functional and valuable items, and maintaining their quantity. Before buying something, consider discarding a similar item. This ensures that the overall number of possessions remains constant. This principle applies primarily to similar items, such as discarding an old shirt before acquiring a new one.

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The kitchen tools of Saeko Kushibiki. Image by The Guardian.

Rent Instead of Buy

Get accustomed to renting items instead of buying, especially for things used infrequently, like camping gear, mountain climbing equipment, or travel suitcases. This also applies to baby gear and toys, especially larger items like baby strollers, slides, and mini pools. Children quickly get bored and desire something new. Renting is more practical and cost-effective than buying, especially for sporadic use.

Digitization

Consider digitizing sentimental items like photo albums or school yearbooks. Scan photos, each page of yearbooks, and other archivable items. Store them in a hard drive or cloud storage for easy access anytime, anywhere. This eliminates the need for dedicated space at home, reducing the risk of dust, humidity damage, or termite infestation.

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One corner of Joshua Fields' apartment from The Minimalists. Image by The Minimalists.

Benefits of Embracing a Minimalist Lifestyle


Efficient Time Management

With fewer possessions, cleaning the house becomes quicker. There's no need to move numerous pieces of furniture or lift stacked boxes. Fewer items also mean faster and easier searching, as everything is neatly organized.


Increased Productivity

With less time spent cleaning and organizing, productivity improves. There's more time available for productive activities like learning a new language, acquiring new skills, or spending quality time with family.


Expense Savings

Understanding the difference between needs and wants prompts careful consideration before purchasing. This has a positive impact on finances, especially when refraining from spending on non-essential items to impress others. A minimalist lifestyle discourages unnecessary and unneeded expenses.


Freedom

The more possessions one has, the more constrained they become. A minimalist lifestyle offers freedom from stress caused by a cluttered home, worries about maintaining possessions, concerns about leaving items unattended for an extended period, fear of item damage, and more.


As Fumio Sasaki wrote in his book, "Our self-worth is not determined by the number of possessions we own." Perhaps it's worth considering adopting a minimalist lifestyle. What are your thoughts on this?



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