For quite some time now I have been fascinated with the idea of being minimal. Minimalism, as how I defined it, is the philosophy of wanting less in order to focus more on what one needs. This idea can be applied in many ways, not just in terms of material acquisition.
Minimalism can also be applied to graphic design, for example. When you create a poster or a t-shirt or anything graphic related, you try to reduce the amount of decoration and information to its bare essentials, while still maintaining its artistic value.
I find this kind of graphic designing to be more fulfilling and efficient, since you are not being bombarded with unnecessary elements. It goes straight to the point. This is especially useful when you are trying to get the message across as fast as possible, which is very relevant given that we are moving faster and that our attention span is not that long.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about minimalism and how it improves the quality of my life and maybe your life as well. The idea of wanting less is appealing to me since I am currently living in a world of material abundance. This surrounding information overload trying to get me to care what they want me to care and buy what they want me to buy is a little bit stressful.
Starting from maybe a few years back, I began to discard my stuff and began to minimilize the things that I own. Whatever I don’t need, I would either donate, sell, or throw away, leaving behind only the things that I need and some of them the things that I want.
I don’t think having wants is against being minimal. What is against minimalism is that you drown your life with the things that you want and you become blindsided about what you actually need. Sometimes you might confuse the two; you might think that what you want is what you need when in reality, that is not the case.
This confusion is profitable for capitalism. When they managed to convince us that we need what we want and we need what we need, then everything becomes a need. They make money off of it. This isn’t to say that buying and selling is an evil activity. We believe that a good businessman is an honest occupation. But buying for the sake of buying and material “hoarding” is a bit of a problem.
The way I see it, the minimalist ideology tries to counteract this confusion by raising questions for us to ponder upon. These questions make us stop and think: the two things capitalism doesn’t like. When people stop, they prevent impulsivity. When people think, they make well calculated decisions based upon a holistic outlook of the situation. This will make us smarter consumers.
I like the idea of being minimal, partly because it makes the basics a priority. When we live in excess, there is a tendency to move towards accessories. There is nothing wrong with accessories, but there is something wrong with it when it pushes us away from the basics. It is like we are too worried about the spoilers on our car, but we don’t think twice about the engine. A minimalist might ask, “Which one is more important?”
This idea doesn’t apply exclusively towards material possessions alone. It can also be applied to our relationships, our careers, our mental health, our designs, our diet, our writing, our education, and our thinking – to name a few. But minimalism does pay specific emphasis on material things though, I guess since it’s so physical and tangible. They are an obvious starting point if you want to begin a minimal life.
Yes, we need to buy stuff. This isn’t a call for total abandonment of worldly things. This is a call for wise decision making, wastefulness prevention, and seeking true happiness in the self and not in the things. When we try to fill the emotional and physical empty spaces with things, the empty spaces will never be filled.
Why? Because those spaces weren’t meant for things in the first place.