~ by Kay Agyemang-Duah (Student, Ghana)

Our culture has bred consumers and addicts. We eat too much, buy too much and want too much. We set ourselves on fruitless missions of filling the gaping hole within us with material things. Blindly, we consume more and more, believing we are hungry for more food, status, or money, yet really we are hungry for connection with our fellow men.

With this realization, the concept of minimalism and contentedness comes in play. I must say these are subjects that need to be taken into consideration as they have throughout the ages of man contributed immensely to the happiness and wellbeing of countless individuals who gave these concepts a shot even though they have been sparingly advocated.

I am sure most of you have come across the word “minimalism”. Some may have an idea of what it is and others, most probably, brushed it off like any other insignificant word. But now, each and everyone is wondering what this minimalism hullabaloo is all about, well it happens to be my subject for discussion today so feel free, relax and join me on this ride of words ecstasy. Don’t hesitate to post your comments and questions at the end of this article.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism is a lifestyle choice. Even some people do not consider it as such but rather a journey that is tasked with getting rid of the unnecessary, be it physical stuff or thoughts in favor of what is important. Minimalists search for happiness not through things but through life itself. The level of specificity is up to the individual who is at liberty to make choices in the areas of their lives they deem fit for this concept, lifestyle or journey.

Minimalism isn’t restricted to physical stuff only but clutter in every form, it is the escape from the excesses of the world around us – the excess of consumerism, material possession, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise… but too little meaning.

“Minimalism is a way of eliminating the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and a sense of value”. ~ Leo Babuta

“Minimalism is an attitude, a way of being. It is a fundamental reaction against noise, visual noise, disorder, vulgarity. Minimalism is the pursuit of the essence in things, not the appearance”. ~ Massimo Vingelli

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It is old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self”. ~ Eleanor Brown

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking the whole world belongs to you.” ~ Lao Tzu

Other explanations to Minimalism

“It is a lifestyle of simplicity stripped off the unnecessary to make room for that which brings you joy.”

 “It is the removal of clutter in every form leaving you with peace, freedom, and lightness.”

Deeds of a Minimalist

“A minimalist shuns away from the mindset of more, of acquiring and consuming and shopping, of bigger is better; of the burden of stuff.”

“A minimalist realizes that acquiring and upgrading does make us happy, that filling your life with busyness and constant wanting of materialistic possessions isn’t desirable but embraces the beauty of less, the aesthetic of sparseness and a life of contentedness is the true source of happiness. He values quality and not quantity in all things.”

This concept is in direct correlation with growth and development because they constitute the bedrock of happiness, not stuff. A conscious realization of this fact is the first step towards fulfillment, happiness, and contentedness. Without growth and without a deliberate effort to help others, we are just slaves to cultural expectations ensured by the trappings of money and power and status and perceived success.

We are not our stuff, we are more than our possessions and a realization of this fact is a broad step to the actualization of contentedness. Some individuals may be confused and even relate minimalism to the possibility of leading an individual to abject poverty or a life of destitute. A friend once told me this and I smiled as he expressed an irrational fear following this path and dying a pauper… Well, I have news for you, this is a hasty generalization and a misconception as there are countless rich people who walk the minimalist path, and this concept isn’t emptiness for the sake of emptiness but rather making room to move freely, think clearly and open ourselves to the beauty and wonder of life.

“He who is not content with what he has, would not be content with what he would like to have.” ~ Socrates.

“Work to become. Not to acquire.” ~ Elbert Hubbard.

“If you are going to have less things, they have to be great things.” ~ John Mardo.

“Collect memories, not things.” ~ Unknown.

“If you have to brag about the all material things in your life, there probably isn’t much else to it.” ~ Unknown

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” ~ Oscar Wilde.

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” ~ Benjamin Franklin.

“Fill your life with lots of experiences, not lots of things. Have incredible stories to tell not incredible clutter in your closet.” ~ Marcandangel.

Minimalism Principles in a Nutshell

Minimalism isn’t restricted to reduction to less. It is also not an end in itself but rather a path or journey that helps an individual to:

  • Have more time
  • Have less worry
  • Have more freedom
  • Have more pleasure
  • Make room for what is more important
  • Became healthier
  • Become greener, in other words getting in tune with nature
  • Exercise frugality in every aspect of life

Quite a write-up, I must say I am really exhausted. Hehehe… Note that some information in this article were gathered from books on the subject, other pieces of information from the web and the rest from inference. I hope the information in this write-up brings you much benefit as it has to me. Also, do not forget to read further on the subject.