Maybe I’m not a minimalist, but that’s what others have called me.
Ten years ago, I was like any other American. I was trying to climb the financial ladder so I could get a bigger house, a more expensive car, and a new tv. I was locked in the rat race. I was competing with the neighbors for yard of the month. I embraced consumerism because that’s just what we do in the West. Then, I started traveling the world. That changed me.
I came to a few realizations:
- I’m just as happy staying in a rudimentary hotel room that costs five dollars a night, as I am staying in my five-bedroom home in the United States.
- A pipe sticking out of the wall with a trickle of cold water gets me just as clean as my expensive rainfall shower head and thirty gallons of hot water.
- Cold water washes my clothes just as good as hot.
- I get just as dry by owning one towel as I do with a closet full of bath linen.
- One light bulb dangling from an electrical cord is just as good as the thirty recessed lights in my McMansion.
- Public transportation gets me anywhere I want to go.
- I don’t need a $35,000-dollar vehicle.
To make a long story short and stay on topic, I ended up giving away all of my material possessions. The junk just didn’t matter to me anymore. And guess what? I don’t miss any of that stuff.
My Perception of Value Has Changed
Minimalism, to me, is not about sacrificing, doing without things you need, or making yourself miserable. It’s about focusing on the moment and the people around you.
Minimalism is about simplifying your life to the point that you actually start enjoying it instead of worrying all the time.
If you are wealthy, you may not understand the logic in this concept. If you are like the rest of us, you can at least see my point. For example…
- Sharing a beer and good conversation with someone is valuable.
- A brand new Mercedes Benz has no value.
- Brand-name clothes have no value.
- A comfortable t-shirt has value.
- A big house has no value.
- A studio apartment has value.
- A new boat has no value.
- Your Rolex watch has no value.
- Listening to live music has value.
- A surround-sound system has no value.
You may realize that all of the things I find valuable do not cost a lot of money. The things that are expensive have no real meaning to me. I’m just not impressed anymore. The most valuable thing to me is being debt free. It’s worth more than all of the money in the world.
I Still Recognize Quality
I’m not blind to quality or good craftsmanship. I still like to window shop and browse at markets. The difference is that I don’t have the urge to buy any of the items. If I were to take anything home, I would see it as unnecessary clutter. That’s terrible for the economy, I know. But, I’m not rich. It’s great for my economy. Happiness for me comes in the form of peace of mind. The joy of staying debt free. The comfort knowing that I don’t have to work eighty hours per week just to pay the rent.
I Only Buy Things I Actually Use or Consume
The items that I purchase nowadays have to serve a direct purpose. The item has to be something that I will use frequently or something I will consume.
- Food & Drink
- Dining / Drinking Out
- Tools of the Trade
I’m not living in a cave. Sometimes I buy a new article of clothing. I have decent shoes to wear. I eat good. I go out occasionally. I have a nice laptop because I spend twelve hours a day online, working. I have a nice leather briefcase because it’s basically my entire office. Tools of your trade are necessities. Spending money on an item that actually helps you make money is not against the principals of minimalism.
The best thing is that I don’t buy on impulse due to crafty advertising anymore. I’m immune to ads and commercials. That’s a very powerful trait to possess. I don’t let products search for and pressure me. I research, ponder, research, and then buy. I could (and might) write an entire book on minimalism and how my perception of value has changed.