The Mancunion

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How to become a minimalist

Millions now consider themselves to be minimalists. James Johnson talks through how it can help you to live a more deliberate life.

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Picture this: less laundry, less cleaning, and a more meaningful life. Why not live a life as a minimalist, uncluttered by the thousand of material belongings we all hoard around from home to home, with little thought that they may carry no personal value?

Minimalism? You’re probably picturing the worlds most perfectly designed Scandinavian home, there might be a single chair in an empty room, the walls are likely white and there isn’t a pile of laundry in sight.

So what is minimalism? The truth is that each person may encounter and implement minimalism in a plethora of different ways. It will likely shape each of our experiences of life a little differently.

Born from the erupting popularity of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, otherwise known as The Minimalists,  we might consider minimalism as ‘a life lived simply’. Picture less a single chair in the corner of an empty room but more a life filled with people, experiences and things that add real value to your everyday.

If you’re a documentary aficionado, you’re likely to have stumbled across, if not have been entirely engrossed by Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, a film about paring back our lives and living without the unnecessary material things we’re prescribed every time dare consider how the newest device or clothes might revolutionise our lives.

What might once have been a modest collection of essays by the pair has grown into something anything but minimal. People all over the world have discovered the revolutionary magic of filling your life, not with the useless possessions we’ve accumulated or held onto, but the meaningful, and the worthwhile.

Their intention to live a more curated life has amassed a following of over 20 million people. Their documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, their books Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists and Minimalism: Live A Meaningful Life as well as their chart-topping podcast The Minimalists Podcast are holy grails of advice and innovation for people purging their lives of unnecessary clutter.

“But most of us aren’t hoarders, right?! We just own a lot of stuff” says Joshua Fields Millburn in their revered TedX speech. Our kitchens, bedrooms and bathroom are chockfull of items for every conceivable ‘what-if’ situation; likely gathering dust and likely irritating to move and clean. So here’s a novel thought, ‘what-if’ we just got rid of it?

We’re often searching for new ways to add value to our lives, but this is all too often in the form of acquiring material possessions. Stripping our lives back to the meaningful things doesn’t mean throwing everything into the trash beside the clothes on your back. It’s not solely confined to things, but habits, relationships and otherwise.

It’s about applying the idea of intended living to more aspects of your life; your technology usage, your personal relations as well as your home décor.

It’s more than white walls and no furniture.

Consider minimising your overflowing wardrobe to those items you just can’t be without or consider whether you’ve enjoyed wearing them in the past 90 days. Perhaps consider on your next student loan fuelled shopping spree whether or not you’re adding any real value to your life or whether you’re just adding more junk.

Minimalism is less a prescription than it is a guiding interpretation. Whether you make the effort to spend less time mindlessly scrolling through social media and take a minute to take in your surroundings or whether you take the time to declutter that pile of junk that’s become a staple part of your bedroom, it’s the idea that removing junk makes the paths a little more travel-able.

Our lives are often too saturated with the idea that consumerism equals contentment. We’re driven to work for the promise of more and that ‘more’ often takes the form of a ‘thing’.

What if we were to pare back our lives to include the things worth including? The counter-narrative to consumerism is minimalism and it is here to help you live a little more deliberately.

A pertinent message The Minimalists often leave with their audiences; “Love people, use things. The opposite never works”.

Try:  The Short Guide to Getting Rid of Your Crap / The Consumption Continuum, from Essential: Essays by The Minimalists