When I became a minimalist, I realized, for the first time, that I am complete in myself.
I don’t need things to become something or someone else: I am just fine exactly as I already am.
I think our society tells us, with strong messages written large on every street corner and in every magazine, that we are not enough.
We are not good enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough, not wealthy enough, not influential enough. We are told we need to buy more, earn more and do more to be acceptable.
If we have a small home, of course we must be waiting until the moment the bank will lend us more, so we can “go up in the world” and buy something bigger and better. How could we possibly be happy with what we have?
If we earn a basic wage, we can’t possibly be happy. How can we? Because of course we should be doing our best to climb that corporate ladder, working extra hours and tiring ourselves out for the good of the company.
And why aren’t we working out at the gym before and after work, getting fit and lean and spending every spare minute perfecting our bodies? Of course we can’t possibly be happy with our bodies as they are! If we’re not super fit and skinny, we’re made to feel inappropriate, unattractive, guilty, ashamed.
All these messages cause pain and struggle and guilt.
We buy the messages, suck them up greedily, accept their mantras as fact.
We never question that puritan work ethic we were taught from the moment we start school.
We never doubt that yes, we really should get fit and lean and improve our bodies.
We never question that yes, of course we should aim for a bigger, better house and a more expensive car.
We never doubt that to work hard is good and to relax and be “lazy” is bad.
Minimalism turns this message on its head and says, Yes. You are okay.
I am okay. As I am. In this life, this body, this skin, this job.
It is okay to enjoy life.
To not be perfect.
To eschew long hours, big hours, endless drudgery, puritan work-till-you-drop mindsets, the attitude that feeling inferior and comparing oneself with our neighbours is normal and ordinary and healthy.
Minimalism dares us to question everything we’re given as truth in this world.
Minimalism also suggests that we do not have to have everything everyone else has in order to be happy. In fact, the journey down such a path will only lead to misery. We’ll endlessly be chasing a dream that cannot ever come true, because in a consumer society there is no such thing as “enough”.
Minimalism suggests that maybe the meaning of life isn’t to work as many hours as we can, struggle for as much stuff as we can possibly own, and have as much debt as the banks will kindly, lovingly give us.
Maybe the meaning of life is deeper, more worthwhile than anything a consumer-driven, puritanical society can throw at us.
Maybe – just maybe – the meaning of life is to be happy with ourselves, learn to accept and love ourselves and others, and live peacefully and simply on this beautiful planet.
That sounds good to me.