Small is the new big. That is to say, minimalism and living with less is becoming a growing movement in North America and it’s starting to catch on in Europe as well.
With the global economic crisis and changes in social attitudes, people have started to realize that the more stuff we have, the more miserable and trapped we become. After all, stuff leads to debt, stress, and even increases our carbon footprint.
Plus, living in larger homes with space we don’t really need only equals more stuff, more spending, and more worry. Then, when we run out of space, we move to a bigger property—or even rent storage space.
Enough is enough.
Stuff doesn’t make us happy. Of course we might get that initial glow of excitement when we purchase new things, but it doesn’t last.
And then the cycle of purchasing begins anew. We keep chasing that feeling.
True meaning and happiness come from experiences. From family and friends. From hobbies such as photography. It comes from the things that we do, rather than the things we own.
As someone who runs their own business, there’s a perception that if you’re not moving along a certain path, you’re not considered to be successful. That if you don’t turn up to a meeting in a decent car or wearing expensive clothes, you won’t be taken seriously. That you’re not worth the money you’re charging your customers.
I guess this perception of wealth extends to our self-worth and confidence. We feel more empowered if we’re attending a meeting wearing the right clothes and carrying the right handbag, for instance.
But then this false sentiment extends to our private lives, as well. We want our peers to think we’re successful. We’re embarrassed, for example, if we’re driving an old car or wearing last season’s fashions. We feel like we’re going backward rather than forward if we’re not “keeping up.”
Of course, it’s easy to fall into this trap—assuming that we really must drive expensive cars, wear designer clothes, and buy things we don’t really need.
It’s the way brands and big companies want us to feel. They want us to spend money, constantly consume, and place all our self-worth, confidence, and happiness on “stuff.”
They want us to be on an endless mission to be happy through consumption and spending. I’m just relieved I’ve worked this out now and discovered the truth.
Through my own endless pursuit to be happy and seemingly successful, I was miserable and constantly running on a treadmill to keep up with others. When I say excessive, it probably wouldn’t seem that way to others. Most people would see this typical way of life as pretty normal.
At some point though, it stopped being normal, and I had a “Eureka!” moment. I realized that I didn’t need all that space, let alone all that stuff.
The journey to living a minimalist lifestyle began
What could I get by without? What did we really need anyway?
I have a nice little 600 sq ft apartment. It has two bedrooms, one bathroom and a nice little balcony. My minimal rent is all inclusive. I also have access to a huge out-building where I can store the equipment I need to perform by business duties(landscaping/lawn care).
Because of my decision to live simply and have no debt I can focus on experiences such as traveling for two months during the Canadian winter.
I can form new friendships with other like minded people from all over the world.
This would not be possible if I had a mountain of debt.
Do you feel like you’re weighed down by your things? Do you find yourself constantly working to pay for the expensive things you own? Are you lying awake at night stressed and worried about debt?
Why not try a little minimalism? You don’t have to go to the extremes I’ve gone to. You could just downsize a few of your possessions. Buy less stuff. Or even swap your car for a cheaper mode of transport? You get to choose how this could work for you.
And instead of spending money on things, why not invest in experiences? In relationships? In the times that set your soul on fire and make you jump for joy? Why not create those precious memories that have you grinning from ear to ear every time you recall them?
Because you know what they say: You can’t take it with you. But you can certainly be satisfied that you lived a wonderful life.