Minimalism with essentialism

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Such a shame that those lovely mountains might distract you from the latest Netflix drama. jeanvdmeulen via Pixabay

Life can be chaotic if we are not vigilant of what we are letting in

by dhruval shah, contributor

Have you ever tried being a minimalist? It’s fine if you have not. If you have, you either enjoyed it or failed at it badly.

Minimalism is the pursuit of using less, possessing less, but at the same time also not giving up on the essentials. Let me start out with an example. 

A while ago I was talking to a friend who tried being a minimalist once, but was unsuccessful. My friend only kept a single pair of shoes and got rid of the rest. As it happened, they also got rid of their winter shoes, which are an absolute essential for the winters in Regina. When being a minimalist, you also have to be strategic about your needs. Thus, what you should strive to be is an “essentialist.” This means you do not have a dozen pairs of shoes, but instead just the ones needed, without compromising anything on those needed.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast where the guest speaker was talking about not being a minimalist, but instead being what he called a “functionalist.” The speaker specified himself under this category, where he keeps everything in his life to fulfill some function. For instance, he has kept some of his shirts from back in high school to feel nostalgic. What we can learn from this is that being a minimalist is not everything; you can have more than the minimum number of possessions, but everything you own should fulfill some function or at least a purpose in your life.

Minimalism, in the broader context of essentialism, can also help manage everyday life, be it personal or professional. Ever wondered why you are always at work till late in the night or maybe working late at home? Ever felt like you are always busy with something? Did you feel like you were compromising with your sleep? Found yourself studying until late night before the test? Have you ever taken some time out of your daily routine and focused on your health?

If you felt any of the above being your situation, then you might find the essentialist approach towards life useful.

Recently I read a book in which the author explains the benefits of saying no to the things you don’t think are absolutely essential. Let’s say that you have to meet a friend for dinner, but you are bailing out on your friend because you just want some extra money by working more hours. You could simply say no to that opportunity to earn, and instead enjoy the time with your friend, which is an essential component of living a well-balanced life. However, this doesn’t mean you skip work during office hours and go hang out with friends! The author gives an example where he had to ignore his sick wife just to attend a meeting at work. 

We have to realize what is essential for a healthy living environment, and not compromise on the important things. We need to prioritize what is essential. Sometimes essential things are things you wouldn’t like to do at all, like studying for an exam or cleaning up your place.

There is a concept called “sorting out the noise” which is an essentialist approach. This means excluding the non-essential things from your life. There is a lot of difference between when you listen to a singer’s album on your phone and when you listen to them live. The live concert reveals the mistakes and the crackled voice of a singer. The songs that are released on CDs are digitally auto-tuned (“sorting out the noise”). They remove the non-essential things from the audio and make it sound better. So, think of it as such – when you auto-tune your life by sorting out the non-essential things, your life will be as good as an amazing song!

Minimalism doesn’t have to mean living in a small house, driving a tiny car, and compromising on everything. Minimalism can mean only using things that are essential. You will feel less chaotic and stressed when you live life with an essentialist approach.

Keep it simple, folks!

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