We watched a documentary about living minimally over the weekend on Netflix from a couple of guys we follow: The Minimalists. If you haven't yet checked out their doc, I highly recommend it. It's called Minimalism, and highlights people who have been dedicated to rejecting the "American Dream" and the ideal that we all feel we're supposed to achieve, in order to find personal fulfillment with less. The entire film is just over an hour, and is a great way to spend an evening, especially if you're like us and extensively talk about and analyze films afterwards.
This film resonated with us for a few reasons. First, it seems that everyone who pursues minimal living, or who gave up conventional living like us, started the same way. There was this quiet discontent with this ideal we were all supposed to be chasing, or this version of what success was supposed to look like. For some of us, it's a little nagging feeling that just grows until you really can't ignore it any longer. For others, it's suppressed, only making itself known during periods of unhappiness and struggle. I know that for me, everything came to a head when I was spending 10+ hours in traffic every week losing my damn mind, just to sit at a desk for 40+ hours a week, with little-to-no-time for myself, paying for things that I thought I needed. I just assumed that that was what I was "supposed" to do. A career in Miami, working in my chosen field, an apartment by the beach—it was the dream, right?
Well, there was no longer any happiness in what I was doing. I had achieved what I thought was success so...why was I so unfulfilled? It still baffles me to this day when I think about the time I wasted doing things that didn't bring me joy—those nights I couldn't stay up late reading the book I couldn't put down because I had to get enough hours of sleep to not be immobile at work the next day, or just sleeping my life away on weekends because I was so exhausted and knew those were my ONLY days to sleep in and it felt like I was wasting time.
Side Note: One of the things I aimed to achieve by living minmally was never having to wake up to an alarm clock again (unless I personally set it) and it has been one of the greatest joys in this past year and a half. The freedom I feel is incomparable. My body has an internal alarm clock that I never knew existed, and guess what? I'm actually more of a morning person than I ever realized. HOW COOL.
By living minimally, I've achieved a certain sense of freedom that I didn't know was possible. And it seems to be the case for those interviewed in Minimalism. The less stuff you have, the less tied to things you are. It's a very simple equation, right?
So then why do we have such a tough time disconnecting from inanimate objects? For starters, we live in a junk culture. We don't know how to live minimally—the media and big business don't want us to. We buy things that we don't really need because we are told it will make us happy or fulfilled, or because it will make life easier. Businesses are tailoring their products and pushing them on us with the false-promise of an easier way of living. And we believe it! But think about it really...look around your house or your apartment...look inside your car or your purse...are those things really bringing you happiness? Do they serve a purpose?
Or is it that we're placing our happiness and our fulfillment onto these inanimate objects? Have you ever lined up for hours waiting for the new iPhone? Have you ever fought with someone on Black Friday in the middle of a crowded store? How much money have you spent on the latest gadgets or cars or clothes in order to appear a certain way to other people, just to be out-of-the-loop again in a few months?
Over the past few decades, our culture has stopped placing emphasis on community and personal well-being, and placed our happiness on stuff. Because that's all it is at the end of the day, stuff that ends up in landfills. I was guilty of it myself, even renting a storage unit at one point to house all of the extra stuff my sister and I held onto. Did you know that storage facilities have become a BILLION dollar business?!
Minimal living means less stuff, less attachments to junk, and more time for ourselves and for our happiness.
Here is a quick list of things I've achieved in this past year of living minimally:
Now, many people think minimal living is a fad or a passing idea, but the truth is, I didn't even realize that living minimally was what I was doing until I read a few books and saw a few documentaries and knew what the heck it was. I just felt that living with intention and purpose—living to my own personal narrative—was as close to pure happiness and fulfillment I can get. So call me a minimalist, call me a realist, call me whatever you want. All I know is that since I pared down and started living for myself, I have never felt more free.
Have you been living minimally or with intention? Share with us your stories!
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