Four Reasons Minimalism Is For Everyone
We're obsessed with stuff. Don't try to fight it, because you know that's very true. We are obsessed with making money and spending it. This article proves it. We derive so much of our identity from what we buy and the volume in which we buy it. We use physical possessions to prove our success, our individuality, our gratitude and our love for others. We use physical possessions to congratulate others or to commiserate their losses. And frankly when you consider the state of the Earth due to our obsession with petrol-based plastics and petrol-fuelled transport shipping this junk all over the world, it's time we got over our obsession.
Below are the four reasons I believe minimalism is for everyone. And for our own happiness and the protection of Earth into the future, I hope these reasons resonate with you.
- We are all enough, and we don't need possessions to prove that
The first step to getting over our obsession with stuff is accepting this fundamental truth: you are enough. Whether you're a Rockefeller or living on the street. Whether you've got the wardrobe of a Kardashian or have never set foot in a department store. Regardless of the money to our name or the stuff we own, we're all perfectly equal. We're all valuable from the moment we come shooting into the world bare assed, screaming and unable to even hold our own heads up. And you should never forget that about yourself.
- Having more or less than another person does not define who we are
Comparison will ruin your life. If we accept point #1 that all of us matter equally, we all deserve respect equally, and we're all 'enough' regardless of wealth, then we need to stop viewing how much we own in the context of how much others own. We have what we have! The comparison of our net worth to anyone else's is irrelevant. If we have what we need, then that's the only criteria that matters.
- Money only buys happiness until a certain point, at which point no increase in wealth makes us any more satisfied with life
Most of us have heard about this 2010 Princeton study. The one that proved that there was a relation between money and happiness, but only up until the value of a $75,000 USD salary. (Approx. $99,000 AUD.) The reasoning being that $75,000 provides a safety net in times of crisis such as the splitting up of families or poor health. So having enough money to know we're protected from tragedy is comforting and makes us happy. This all makes sense. But the most interesting part of the study, the part that blew up the Internet, was the findings that once somebody's net worth exceeded $75,000 there was no further increase in happiness. The conclusion? Having more than we need does not make us happier. Excessive wealth and extravagance doesn't bring anyone authentic joy. Owning expensive possessions does not improve quality of life.
Minimalism does not mean living in poverty, it means living with what you need and nothing else. So while working to get yourself into a comfortable financial position that could withstand a life crisis is a legitimate goal, the minimalist would stop there. Busting your ass for more than you need will not bring you happiness.
- Studies show we should spend our time and money fostering relationships and creating memories, because those are the things that will matter in our old age
Since the 30s a group at Harvard University have been running the world's longest study on happiness, the Grant Study. Quote the head psychiatrist: "The clearest message that we get is this, good relationships keep us happier and healthier." Our wealth, our homes or our physical appearance don't contribute to a lifetime of good health and happiness. Being loved does. Money is ultimately irrelevant when we reflect on our lives from our death bed.
For sake of transparency however, they also found that those with happier relationships in childhood find greater financial success in adulthood! Ultimately proving that even if earning US$75k is your goal to achieve the aforementioned happiness in point #3, relationships should still be the pivotal focus of all our lives because stronger relationships bring both money and a lifetime of fulfilment and happiness.
The takeaways? Money and your possessions ultimately mean nothing. We do not need to define ourselves by how much we own, or by how much others own. What truly matters is that we show love and compassion to children, giving them a better chance at living a comfortable enough life that allows them to foster their own positive relationships, raise their own happy kids, and die with a collection of happy memories. It's time we quit showing our feelings for others through meaningless, environmentally destructive and wasteful physical gifts, and started focusing on building healthier relationships. Because ultimately in the end, that's all that's going to matter.