Minimalism — Less is more in our lives

minimalism christian lautenschleger
minimalism christian lautenschleger
A couple of months ago you would have seen a bike. I sold it after six months of not riding it.

It seems almost counterintuitive to be an American and want less. Especially after Christmas. Minimalism seems like a weird, counterculture lifestyle when more people can be materialistic as ever. But why do we actually want more stuff? Because we fell into love from advertisements? We want what other people have? Or because we’re buying stuff to fill some sort of need want?

I almost by accident discovered minimalism a few months ago. I think I found it while browsing TED talks on YouTube. It got my attention. Why have stuff we don’t need? (And by stuff I mean things that we buy that only leave us scratching our heads a few days later after we bought it — knowing we’re not going to use it very often.) It dawned on my that I had a minimalism lifestyle without actually knowing what to call it.

What is a minimalism? Minimalism is only owning items, relationships, and activities that add value to our lives. That expensive espresso maker, how often do we use that? A flock of negative friends who drag us down –why do we want that? A number of activities that waste our time? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Minimalism adds value to our lives. “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but there is nothing left to take away,” as said by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Instead of over-engineering our lives from over-extending our credit cards, relationships, and schedules, replace what we think we want with what adds value. Before we even buy an appliance, think of what value it adds.

It may seem financially trivial , but before I bought my blender I thought about the value it offers. Why? Because I didn’t want to spend money on something that I wouldn’t use very often and have something else taking up more space. It turns out that I use the $15 blender almost everyday. I use it as much as I thought I would. If I can do that for a $15 item, shouldn’t we all use for that stuff that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. Do we really need another gizmo from Best Buy, do the ladies really need another purse? Do we really need that new car? Remember, when we buy for status we’re essentially buying for someone else.

Fewer things to look after and collect means our minds are less cluttered. It’s more time for reading, meaningful relationships, and peace and harmony. Less distractions in our lives and more time to focus on what we want to accomplish. That smartphone? How many people need their smartphone? That smartphone that keeps us up to date with social media makes us more anti-social while in public. Go to a mall and observe people. It’s utterly insane how many people walk around like zombies. Only check your phone periodically. Those emails we get, how many of them are urgent? If it’s urgent, why send out an email? Do emergencies not necessitate phone calls?

Minimalism adds value. It becomes a lifestyle and mindset. It adds more to our lives because we take away what doesn’t matter. What we keep we take more pleasure in, we enjoy more of, and we can spend more time doing. Every “yes” we say we say “no” to something else. Be true to ourselves. Nothing more than what we need, nothing less than what we don’t.

Check out Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits or The Minimalists to learn more.