Love People and Use Things, The Opposite Never Works.”
-Josh, The Minimalists
It’s stated in the film that we fill a void in ourselves to buy our way to happiness. We are told to keep buying things from advertising and we keep listening as we are told. But the joy of things eventually wears off, so we upgrade and inflate our lifestyle to try and fill that void of happiness that we believe stuff will bring us. We try to keep up with the Joneses, because we see them happy with their houses, cars, their gigantic pile of stuff. Online shopping gives us access to 24 hour shopping as simple as one click or a few more.
Too many worship self-indulgence and consumption.
Jimmy Carter – US President
Does This Add Value to My Life?
Many people think a minimalist style of life is deprivation. I thought this too before watching this documentary. I now understand a minimalist learns contentment and is deliberate with living with less. A minimalist is intentional with their consumption and avoids compulsory consumption. Minimalism embraces quality over quantity and realizes a materialistic American Dream may be a template and a dream but not necessarily a minimalist’s American dream (to paraphrase Josh’s speech on the American Dream).
Minimalism makes efficient use of the space available. Many people buy bigger houses (that they really can’t afford) and don’t necessarily make use of all the space available. According to Graham Hill, the Founder of LifeEdited, since the 1950’s the space per person in a house has tripled. He also states that the self storage industry equates for 2.2 billion square feet of storage space.
The film shows two prototype apartments, both less than 700 square feet. My opinion is that the two apartments are beautifully designed and makes the most efficient use of the space as possible. I would definitely live in one of the prototype apartments.
The documentary also shows a few examples of tiny houses. Tiny houses are said to be affordable, simple, and sustainable. Would you consider a tiny house or an apartment with less than 700 square feet?
The documentary quotes the “fast fashion” industry as having as many as 52 seasons, or trends changing as often as once a week every year. It also quotes an article where a fashion mogul which threw out unsold clearance clothing was cut and shredded after being trashed, to avoid others from using or reselling the unsold clothes.
Courtney Carver is interviewed in the documentary as well. You may know Courtney as the Found of Project 333. Courtney challenged herself and others to use just 33 items of clothing in 3 months. She said that her coworkers and clients at her corporate job hadn’t noticed that she rotated out 33 items for over a year. Have you done the Project 333 challenge? Let me know in the comments.
I’ve noticed a trend that personal finance bloggers and followers LOVE to travel. I, myself enjoy the occasional day trip and exploring new and local areas not too far from home and around the state. The Minimalists in the film appear to enjoy traveling and pack everything in a single suitcase. Another minimalist, who has a total of 51 things, travels with only two bags and does not have permanent home. Currently, according to a couple different Facebook articles, Millennials seem to value travel and experience over owning stuff. Do you enjoy traveling? Could you pack everything in one suitcase?
The Minimalists each gave up a six figure income in corporate America to enjoy the minimalist lifestyle. It’s harder to break the paycheck to paycheck cycle when you spend all your money on stuff. The minimalist lifestyle is not just about breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle, but is a side effect.
For those familiar with Mr. Money Mustache, he says that he lives a maximum happiness lifestyle and not a minimalist lifestyle. However, I believe after this analysis, Mr. Money Mustache lives more of a minimalist lifestyle than he leads himself to believe. He also states that breaking the paycheck to paycheck cycle is a side effect of living an optimized lifestyle.
Social Media & Information Overload
According to a Nokia study, we are said to check our phones/social media about 150 times per day. Rachel Cruze (daughter of financial expert Dave Ramsey) states that social media is a “highlight” of our best life and only the good we want people to see. We seem to wear a “badge of honor” when we are busy for the sake of “being busy.” How much time are we really wasting though? Why are we proud when we waste an entire day or two binge watching Netflix?
Josh Becker, Author of Clutterfree With Kids, states that we are shown over 5,000 advertisements. Kids are heavily advertised to now as well. Kids are using new technology as young a year old. Only a year old! I didn’t even own my first computer until I was 15.
How do we fight information overload? The simplest way is to turn it off. Unplug yourself and take some time. Another “antidote” to fight information overload is to meditate. Personally, my partner and I like to just take a ride in the car. Part of our day trips is a chance to unplug (we still take some pictures). I can’t (and won’t) check my phone while driving. What ways do you unplug or cut off information overload?
Am I a Minimalist?
Ideally, I want to say yes. Realistically, no I’m not. I take a look around and see that I have a stockpile and “doubles” of crap I don’t need. I still have a partial scarcity mindset and buy more than what I actually need. I know I could stand to throw out or donate some clothes. I should challenge myself to the Project 333 challenge. I should sell some things. I’m not as intentional with my consumption (tangible and media) as I would like to be. I know there are many steps I could take. However, the minimalists were working on their lifestyle for over 5 years before this documentary. Me? I’ve been working on lifestyle changes for only a year or two.
What steps could you take to be more intentional in your consumption or to continue your path to minimalism? Does it even appeal to you after this analysis? Let me know in the comments.