About a week ago I watched the movie called “Minimalism” and it made me realize we are closer to minimalism that I would have thought, though who knows us could say we are exactly the opposite, hoarders to be more precisely. But let me tell you about us and about the movie.
3.5 years ago, when we decided to move to London, we knew we couldn’t take with us all that we owned. So we had to go through everything that was in our home: clothes, books, dishes, cables, shoes, toys, everything. And we kept only the essential. That’s when we realized how many useless things a person can collect in a few years. We donated or thrown away old shoes, clothes we hadn’t worn in over 5 years, books we had read or didn’t want to read anymore, cables and not working computer components that we kept “just in case”, mugs and plates and dishes we hadn’t used in years, and the list could continue.
Do we really need this? Does this improve our life?
When we moved here, we had to buy dishes and electronic appliances and books and toys and clothes. But we did this in a smarter way than we used to: we bought only what we needed, at the best price we could find. Except for the books and toys (therefore the “hoarders” attribute we got). Mainly, when we want to buy something, we ask ourselves “Do we really need this? Does this improve our life?”, so as to buy not because it’s trendy or cool or in sale, but to do so intentionally. “Live an intentional life” is one of the ideas in the movie “Minimalism”.
When I was pregnant with my son, I was influenced by the market, as all pregnant mom are I guess. So, I bought a cot with a special mattress, sterilizer, milk bottles, push-chair that could have the seat read or forward facing, electronic bouncer, bathtub, special shampoo and creams and so on. After giving birth though, and until I had my daughter, I understood that none of those were necessary. So for my daughter I had a minimalist approach I might say because the only thing I considered essential for her was a mei tai in which to carry her when she was too tiny for a SSC. We also had a Moses’ basket and a bathtub just because it was easier for me, not because she needed them. However, we had no sterilizer or milk bottles as I breastfed her (I did the same with my son, so at the time we had to sell these utensils), we tried to use the pushchair twice (the one we had bought for my son and hardly used) but we soon sold it, we didn’t even buy a special shampoo because we all use the same one, a baby earth friendly type. And if you ignore what media tells you, if you just stop and think about what a baby needs actually are, you might as well end up buying just a wrap.
Minimalism is about living an intentional life
Minimalism is about living an intentional life, about being conscious or mindful, about shutting down the automatic pilot and being in charge of your decisions, of your choices. And it might be a strange concept in a world where all you hear is “bigger/more/newest is better” and “this latest fashion/gadget will make you cool/happy/popular”.
The movie “Minimalism” evolves around Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the authors of “Everything that remains” book and it presents their lives as well as some of other minimalists’. It also features interviews with authors, journalist, neuroscientists, psychologists, architects. It’s a great chance to see how minimalists live (I loved one of the flats presented!) and what determined them to choose this lifestyle. It’s an opportunity to think about the idea that “bigger/more is better” as the movie questions this belief and it discusses fashion and social ladders and cars and houses and marketing.
When you realize that this life is yours, and that it is your one and only […] everything changes.
For example, a woman talks about how she chose, out of her wardrobe, 33 pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories (33 in total – this is also called “Project 333” or “Capsule wardrobe”) and how she was more than fine and nobody noticed that she wore, for a whole year, only 33 pieces. I can’t imagine what would happen if every woman chose this, I guess the fashion industry that wants you to change your look every week would go bankrupt!
Another guy talks about how he was a workaholic and managed, at quite an early age, to get a very big and important promotion. And how has promotion made him realize that he would feel trapped in that job and that the life he had dreamed of – travelling, living, being free – would be gone. So he quit his job and became a minimalist. He is the one to say “When you realize that this life is yours, and that it is your one and only, and when that ceases to be esoteric bullshit, when that’s not hippie poetry anymore, when the pragmatism of that statement seeps directly in your bones and you recognize that this is it, everything changes.“.
The movie tries to explain the humans’ need to buy things and is not actually trying to convince anyone not to buy anymore or to become a minimalist. But the thing is that “you can never get enough of what you don’t really want“. Just stop and ask yourself what is it that you really want. Be more conscious of your needs, of what you want and what makes you happy. Live an intentional life. It’s easy and it could make you happier.
PS. Just out of curiosity, does your desk look similar to the one in the above photo?