I don’t wear deodorant. I don’t use shampoo. I use a bidet. I don’t wear foundation or blush. I do many ‘out of step’ things according to mainstream culture. Few are obvious if you met me, and none stem from rebellion. They’ve all arisen from an innocent curiosity and subsequent questioning of the status quo. Then they were followed by an excitement to try a new approach and an honest assessment before deciding to implement a lifestyle change.
My version of minimalism is not just about having few things or staying organized. Minimalism is a mindset, with the physical and structural aspects of my life are simply a natural outcome.
My mindset began forming during my early adolescence, as everything felt (and still very much feels) like an imposition. It’s the uninvited way the world is telling me who to be, how to act, what to have, and what to do. My core beliefs revere freedom, which include determining what I want without weight given to social realities or norms. The subtler norms that come through advertising and our in/out group focused culture are particularly pesky. With minimalism, I can’t be bothered.
While many view me as disciplined and controlled, it’s really that my mindset likes to play a game: at all times, figure out how to do the least and accomplish the most of what I want to do. I’d rather give up an exciting time to do something more impactful in my life so that the next time spontaneity comes by, I can jump to answer its invitation—perhaps with more money and energy. My mind is a trade offs calculator and consideration of the hedonic treadmill is implicit in my every move. In the end, all I want is to have fun, learn, be creative, take the sometimes more time-consuming sustainability action, relax, to just be, and reset. It’s not an overstatement that time is my most valuable commodity.
I get questioned a lot. I see a lot of scrunched up faces. Not because I smell bad (I promise), but because it’s strange for others to watch someone do something that has always been presented as a have-to. I’ve learned that people see your contrarian actions as an affront to their way of life, even if that’s not your care or concern. It started at seventeen when I became a vegetarian (it was less cool over twenty years ago), stopped drinking alcohol completely (still not cool), and adopted the aforementioned bathroom practices (might never be cool).
When you live an alternative lifestyle, quietly and happily, I’ve noticed that people start to catch on. Some of the unasked-for defences of why they don’t make similar changes slowly turn into questions, then understanding, and then occasionally, change.
Minimalism is my mindset, but it isn’t just for me. It is an example and textbook for others to flip through, read, and possibly adopt when ready. Minimalism is not static, it’s constant action, just like balance. My questioning and research never ceases, and I’m always adjusting. This reinforces my awareness of the world and myself, allowing me to let go of the scrunched-up faces and dismissals because I know there may be change on the other side.