“The things you own end up owning you,” is a famous quote by Tyler Durden from the movie Fight Club, and I think it’s true. Possessions have a need to be maintained, and maintenance takes time and energy. When I see people who have a large house with a swimming pool in their backyard, own a dog, have two cars and motorcycles, I see them running around all day: cutting the grass, walking the dog, cleaning the swimming pool, cleaning the house (of course) washing the cars and motorcycle, and, last but not least, working a fulltime plus job to pay for all that stuff. And then, after repeating this process several times, they begin to realize that they are deprived of time to enjoy the stuff they work for.
I believe that what puts people in such a position is a collective attachment to comfort and that society has brainwashed into thinking that we need all this stuff and need a certain status. Fear of being the social outcast keeps people slaving away on the plantation. But we don’t need all that jazz to live a good life, and that’s what people have been discovering, or rediscovering I should say, that turned into the minimalist movement we see today. The thing is, when you YouTube search minimalism, tons of videos show up about people showing off their minimalist lifestyles and giving you advice about the things you have to get rid of this year and sharing all kinds of practical methods about this lifestyle. Well, I think it’s great that people are willing to deviate from consumerism, don’t get me wrong, but only that is not enough for me. Moreover, I see that minimalism is presented more like a trend: styling your living room minimalistically, minimalistic designer chairs, what to eat as a minimalist, whatever. But focussing on the superficial aspects of the minimalist lifestyle, people overlook the thing that minimalism, in my humble opinion, is really about what I would call: spiritual tidiness.
Material minimalism is a great vessel to inner peace and quiet. Owning just a few things will create a space that opens you up for life because you are less encumbered and less occupied. But still, you can have an almost empty living room, and be occupied by loads of thoughts, ambitions, plans, neurosis, etcetera. A minimalistic living space can, however, lead to a more minimalistic approach to the rest of life. These days, as a lone wolf, I tend to be more selective about the people in my social circle. I like to keep it simple, I want to keep drama out, and, basically, people who truly have a negative impact on my life I minimize my time with. I only need one hand to count the number of people that I consider good friends. The rest is nice to hang out with from time to time. I do go for high maintenance friendships, which is expected to call every day and see each other multiple times a week. That’s something from the past. Sometimes I don’t see certain friends for months, but when we meet again it’s truly quality time.
Another thing is that I keep my living schedule as simple as possible. I have a part-time job that generates most of my income. I workout 3 times a week (I can talk about minimalistic workouts one day). I clean the house. Shop for groceries. I meditate. The previous I consider life maintenance, and I still have a lot of time left for the things I really want to do. And, I think, even passions and hobbies are benefitted by a minimalistic approach. There are many creative activities I like: drawing, video editing, researching and writing about various topics. Like most creative people, I never have a shortage of creative ideas and plans. But you cannot have it all and too many creative ideas may end up destroying your overall creative drive because of a lack of conscientiousness and too much overthinking.
So, what works for me is prioritizing my creative outlets, delete the ones that are least appealing to me, and pick one or two and focus on the long term. I chose writing, for example. I write for this channel, do occasional freelance work and work on my novel. This, of course, includes research and video editing, but writing is my core activity when it comes to my creative outlets. To keep everything clear, I use an old school agenda. First I plan my work schedule, then physical activity, then house chores. That’s the framework. When that’s set up, I schedule two or three-hour chunks for writing on the days I choose. And, well, that’s it. And I’m always surprised how much time is still left, to do whatever I want. So what I meant with spiritual tidiness, is that applying minimalism in different dimensions of your life, it will lead to lead to more peace of mind, less stress and less cortisol. So keep it minimal, keep it solitary.