Something I have noticed in the minimalist community of late is judgement. I have seen comments online from people moving towards a minimalist lifestyle that have made me feel sad and disappointed. Perhaps the message of minimalism isn’t clear enough.
Minimalism is about what matters.
Living a life with less has always been, for me, about getting closer to the things that matter. I want to be able to devote more time to relationships and experiences, rather than just living day-to-day on a treadmill of earn-buy-consume.
I also want the freedom and energy to pursue my goals in my spare time, rather than being so depleted by daily life that the only thing I can manage is another evening sat in front of the TV.
Getting rid of all the excess in our lives is a great way to get closer to ourselves and to what we hold true in the world. It’s also fantastic for freeing up time and energy that would otherwise be consumed in a myriad of ways by the seemingly limitless things that we can own.
What if you’re not a minimalist?
When I first discovered minimalism, it was a bit of a weird thing that hid in dark corners of the internet. Today, the popularity of minimalism is more mainstream, but it has also gathered devotees who think that other people are somehow stupid, or less worthy, because they are not minimalists.
I have seen horrible comments online, made about other people’s spending and lifestyle choices. Ordinary folk have been called “idiots”, “dumb” or even “sickening” for buying what was judged to be an excess of things. I read a story written by a woman who decided her co-worker was stupid for buying a charm to attach to the zip on her purse. These are things that most of us would never say to someone’s face, but online it seems that we can be much ruder in an attempt to get our point across.
Minimalism is a great solution to the excesses of life, and the conservation of our planet’s diminishing resources. However, it is not okay to stand on a self-erected virtuous podium, looking down at the “consumerist masses”. How will that change the world for the better?
Minimalism is not enlightenment.
Minimalism may feel like a revelation when you finally get the hang of it, but traditionally the enlightened lead those that are yet to learn—they do not judge them.
None of us know what strangers and colleagues are dealing with, and no one is perfect. Few of us grew up as minimalists and many of us are reformed hoarders ourselves. How can we judge those that are walking the same path that we once walked?
Minimalism is so compelling to me for many reasons, but one thing that stands out is that it allows us the space to be more compassionate. Having less means we are not so wrapped up in ourselves.
There is a difference between being passionate about a way of life because it works for you, and feeling superior about your way of life because you think it's better than everyone else’s. As you continue your minimalist journey, don’t fall prey to the mistake of throwing your compassion and kindness out, along with everything else.
What the world needs is minimalists with kindness in their hearts to lead the way.
Minimalism can create communities and networks of acceptance and giving that will benefit everybody, even the people who still want to keep a charm on their purse key.
As the Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”