For the last 18 months or so I have been living a minimalist lifestyle. I have 3 sets of clothes, as you can see from the image above, and all the items I own can fit in to one removal box. But why do it and is it something I will continue to do after my travels?
My decision was based on a few years of excess with lots of material items, which really were not making me any happier. I had got my degree and a few good jobs and was now in a place where I thought I would be happy. My reflection concluded that all the items were causing me more stress than happiness.
Reading ‘Stuffocation: Living More With Less‘, a book thats title so very aptly describes how I was feeling. Locked in to life by my possessions. James Wallman the author shares a study that shows how more and more people are becoming less materialistic – In the 1970’s 4 out of 5 people held materialistic values and now is is nearer half. The political scientist Ronald Inglehart is calling people who reject these values as ‘post-materialists’.
Would I think of myself as post-materialist? I have less items but I am much more picky about the items I get when I do buy them. An example, I had a pair of shoes I wore everyday for just over a year. I’d become attached and would have bought another pair in a heartbeat had they not been discontinued. Choosing another pair took me quite sometime, about a month, because I knew I would really appreciate and use them once purchased. So instead of being driven by adverts and what I should buy, I now looked for something to match what I had in my head. This is a different way of living, I am still not sure if I behave in a ‘post-materialist’ way. Though I do base more and more of my purchases on need rather than want and that is a huge difference, because it frees me up to concentrate and focus on other, more important, things in life.
There are many people who simplify their life to enable them to focus fully on their aims and goals. This has happened to me too, more by accident rather than a specific plan, but the outcome has been the same. I have become so much more productive over this last year; creating an app, writing a book, learning new skills, and organising my travels.
Inglehart states that because more of us have not had to worry where our next meal is coming from or where we will sleep we are now less concerned about our basic material needs of food and shelter and are now focusing on having freedom. I agree with in the most part, however where I differ is that now I have finished work I have allowed myself more time to consider what I am eating, I looked at a trying an Alkaline diet the other day, however when I checked the foods they were the ones I was buying and eating anyway. I also think alot about the type of house I would like to live in. It would be a small multifunctional space, I have created a website along with a pinterest moodboard to help me when, and if, I am ready to start focusing on owning a house again.
To conclude I don’t think moving away from the minimalistic or simplistic lifestyle is anywhere on my agenda. I would say the opposite at the moment. I am planning on having another clear out before I fly. I would not go back to a life more complicated than I have at the moment because this life is making me happy. Happiness is the most important thing for anyone. Giving myself the space and freedom to be happy can allow me to expand it out to everyone I meet. So a great way to close this post and summarise exactly why I choose this way of life I leave you with this Dalai Lama quote:
I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.