Minimalism is what I need in my life! When I look upon all of the items that I have collected throughout the years, I see mostly junk. When I take a step back and look at the things I possess I feel very fortunate, like a king! We take so many things for granted in our lives that we really don’t recognize how rich that we actually are. Maybe I can use minimalism to cure the luxuries in life and incorporate into Stoic Lifestyle Design?
This realization came to me as I was putting up my utensils from the dishwasher. How many forks does one household honestly need? There are only 3 people in my household, why are there so many forks in the dishwasher? My wealth is so great that I have at least 16 forks in my utensil drawer although there are only 3 mouths in my house. My luxury is so great that when I dirty one fork, I don’t clean it quickly, I just grab another one. I use this as an example because this is something really small that we easily overlook and allow lifestyle creep.
“Your food should appease your hunger, your drink quench your thirst, your clothing keep out the cold, your house be a protection against inclement weather. It makes no difference whether it is built of turf or of variegated marble imported from another country: what you have to understand is that thatch makes a person just as good as a roof of gold does.”Seneca
Stoic philosophers had nothing against people having excess money or items. What they mentioned was not to cherish the item so if you were to lose these items, they didn’t have emotional value. Know that your actual needs are very low and inexpensive. As the quote above mentions; whether the roof is made of thatch or gold, they both keep out the rain. Your clothing is to keep out the cold, not to impress your coworkers about having the latest designer items.
There is a burden to having more items. The cost is both financial as well as mental. From a financial cost perspective, In my example above I have to wash a large number of forks as well as space to hold these. This means that I need more cabinet space to hold all of these utensils. With the extra cabinets, I need a larger kitchen and so forth and so on. From this excess, you can see how our lives become more expensive. From a mental perspective, we have less time due to maintaining this ever increasing number of items. More items means more headspace. One way is to incorporate minimalism into stoic lifestyle design.
Minimalism has been gaining momentum throughout the last couple of years. This system seems to show how people are living more simply and happier because of it. With my utensil example, 3 forks in the house. This is all that is needed to eat a meal in the house. Why do I own over 2 dozen coffee mugs from Starbucks with different states on them? I only need 3 and these could be used for hot or cold beverages if you want to get technical. I have seen minimalist who purchase the same clothes to wear daily. The funny part is that most people would probably not notice. Most folks are thinking about themselves and not paying that much attention to others.
Minimalism has been morphing into another hot button item which is FIRE. This stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. The essence of this is that folks are going minimalistic so that they don’t have to work a traditional 9-5 job. They have the independence to do what they desire. One of the biggest proponents of this movement is Mr Money Mustache. If you have the time, check out his blog. There have been a few pleasant side effects from utilizing FIRE:
- People have learned that they really don’t need most of the stuff that they used to purchase
- Items that are purchased secondhand, either through a thrift store, garage sales or online, are just as good as the new item at a fraction of the cost.
- Suddenly when you are spending less, there is more disposable income that is available
Living the FIRE lifestyle is the tradeoff between keeping all of the items that we don’t need and work til old age. On the flip side, remove all of the unnecessary items within our life and enjoy just being a human working on things that we actually enjoy. This sounds simple as I type it but really hard to put into practice. We need to step away from putting value on our items. We need to use minimalism to cure our luxury habits.
Luxury is such a constantly changing, subjective idea to try and strive towards. The definition of luxury changes as we progress through life; both for the better and worse. In the beginning, it might be to have a nice quartz watch. As we progress through life, suddenly that watch needs to be a Rolex. Both provide the same thing; time. Oddly enough, the quartz watch will provide better time and cheaper maintenance than the Rolex. We are quick to point out the superior craftsmanship and the unsaid advertisement that says “Look at Me!” On the flip side, the minimalist will point out why the need to have time on your wrist when you can see it on your phone and a hundred other devices.
We have this innate need as a human to want more. I believe that we have been displacing that desire. We have transposed our need for intellectual growth with physical items. We use these items as a measurement of success in our lives instead of our feelings of self fulfillment. Minimalism will help us change the focus of what matters in life. I don’t need the golden fork but instead need the fork that works. I need to start concentrating less on how many forks I have and more on what my fork is putting in my mouth and the frequency it is doing it. Who I am sharing my fork time with and the conversations that I am having is the important part. Now, back to emptying the dishwasher…