The Joys of Minimalism

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The Joys of Minimalism

Ghufran Wakeel

Research tells us that happiness does not come from possessions. Instead, contentment comes from experiences. A refreshing trip to a scenic place or an excellent bond with grandma will bring more permanent joy than a new vase or pair of shoes. Things buy us temporary happiness which is why although ‘retail therapy’ is known for lifting one’s mood, the joy one experiences is short lived, resulting in a decided slump of one’s spirits. A good experience, relationship or act of charity will serve us better, and this brings us to minimalism.
Minimalism is living a life of simplicity, efficacy and the fewest of belongings. Essential and few. The minimalist movement took birth in the late 1960s in New York City. Cambridge Dictionary defines minimalism as a style in art, design, and theatre that uses the smallest range of materials and colours possible, and only very simple shapes or forms. In other words, minimalist art is a design style that emphasizes extreme simplicity, focusing on clean lines, minimalist colour, and basic shapes.
Although minimalist art was appreciated, an uncomplicated lifestyle was not encouraged because corporations would lose if people decided that less is more. Lately, however, people have gotten fed up of material goods and realize that happiness and peace come with having less. The benefits of minimalism are many, only if we understand what it is.
Minimalism means more time. Our belongings keep us engaged with themselves; organizing, cleaning, polishing, storing, restoring, moving and replacing them. Fewer items mean fewer of these activities and more time for other, more productive ones. When it comes to personal items, having fewer choices saves us time and energy.
Minimalism means mental clarity. Would you work more efficiently on a desk cluttered with paper, files, stationery, coasters, mugs, cables and other knick-knacks or a desk that only held items you needed for the task? Less things allow us to achieve clarity of mind and efficiency. Because ‘things’ are not taking up space and distracting us, we are faster and more proactive.
Minimalism means easier to move. Today people are moving more than ever before. A young professional couple buys a house, lives in it, makes money, sells and moves to a better neighbourhood, or one of them gets work in another city and they relocate. Happens a lot. People get married, they move; people have more children, they move; people retire, they move. So many life events compel us to move. What is the biggest regret when one is moving? Having too much stuff!
Minimalism allows us to enjoy a semi nomadic lifestyle. A few months ago, on a trip to Thailand, my sister met several people who had been living there for months while working remotely. Basically, these people were living a vacation lifestyle. Post the Covid pandemic, a large number of people are working from home, which means they are not tied to a working location. The world is a big place with countless opportunities and settings to take advantage of. Young people are realizing that settling in one place is no good and want to try living in different places. Less things mean such a lifestyle is easier to obtain.
Minimalism makes us grateful. On a visit to a toy shop a few years back, the owner informed me of something quite interesting. He had observed over the years that the more toys the parents bought for their children, the more ungrateful the children became. It is true that having more makes us impervious to the joy that things bring and as a result, we do not appreciate them anymore. If not ungrateful, one is bound to feel bored of things sooner or later.
Minimalism means more space to enjoy. I don’t know about you, but I love empty spaces. They are so peaceful. Imagine a room full of furniture crammed in every corner, clutter on every table, rugs occupying every inch of the floor. Now imagine another room with just the most basic of furniture placed spaciously. Which room gives off peaceful energy?
Minimalism means more money. More money to spend on what really matters, such as investments, vacations, good health, good food, gifts for family and friends, and better-quality items.
Minimalism means less attachment. I’ve put all my most sacred belongings in two travel bags and if I have to suddenly escape my house, these two pieces of luggage would be all I’d need. Everything else is easily replaceable. I make sure my precious belongings which include irreplaceable documents, cards, mementos and pictures are kept to a minimum. Keep what is really, really important, discard the rest.
Minimalism means less worry. The more items you have, the more you will fret about them. You will worry about the safety, maintenance, costs of upkeep and other matters pertaining to those items.
And, finally, minimalism means being content with less. Naturalist Henry David Thoreau said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.” One of my absolute favourite quotes and one that I choose to live by. Minimalism means being satisfied with less, not wanting more and not being greedy. It is absolutely the best way to live one’s life.

Muhammad Ali Asghar

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