Minimalism Versus Consumerism: How To Find The Right Balance For You
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Are you looking for a better, calmer, easier way of living?
No, this isn’t some freaky cult.
I’m talking about a way of living, a principle in regards to your ‘stuff’. Your possessions, your dust-collectors, your things. How and what you buy and then what you do with them.
Because it matters. A great deal apparently.
To your health, happiness, bank account, relationships and your self-esteem.
“A preoccupation with, and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods.” (www.merriam-webster.com)
Whichever generation you technically fall into, it’s safe to say that consumerism has played a big part in your life to some extent.
You wanted more, bigger, better at some stage. Don’t worry, it’s only natural. We’ve all been there.
The Benefits of Consumerism to individuals may include:
- Providing tangible rewards for hard work
- The ability to have choice
- Satisfaction and enjoyment in life (whether short-term or long-term)
- The latest gadgets, toys and opportunities
- Status symbol, ego and the ability to stand ‘out from the crowd’
- Extrinsic motivation
- Visual reminders of memories
- A way to ‘show’ love, affection or other emotions to an important person in your life
The disadvantages of Consumerism to individuals may include:
- The ability to spend above your means
- The clutter & overwhelm
- The time required to purchase, maintain, clean and store
- A mentality of waste and disregard for true value
- Class division
- The ability to align personal self-esteem with ‘things’
- Less free time: the need to work more in order to pay for purchases
“A style that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity” (www.merriam-webster.com)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about the ‘minimalism’ movement.
Popularized in recent time by documentaries such as The Minimalists and popular bloggers, concepts of decluttering, tiny houses, capsule wardrobes and bare, white walls and spaces.
The Benefits of Minimalism to individuals may include:
- Less time required for shopping, maintaining, cleaning and storing things
- More time with loved ones and experiences
- The ability to focus on what matters most, away from the clutter of 'things'
- More money leftover and the potential to work less
- Less waste
- Less focus on social status based on possessions
- Thought to reduce stress and increase happiness
The Disadvantages of Minimalism to individuals may include:
- Can be very challenging to adjust to less possessions and less choice
- Can be a long and arduous process to declutter and reduce possessions
- A long-held habit that requires shifting
- There are wide-ranging definitions of minimalism – some are quite strict and therefore only suitable to some lifestyles
Like anything in life, there are of course extremes.
Extreme consumerism can leave people broke, bitter and empty, always chasing the next best thing. And then again, some people claim to love this way of living.
Extreme minimalism, when an intentional way of living (not forced on somebody by property and/or disadvantage) is not considered to be so emotionally stunting, but it is also not for the faint-hearted.
Whilst there are no ‘set rules’ for minimalism, the paring down of your possessions to a bare minimum is considered a basic requirement. Again, there are no rules, and each person will have a different appetite for what constitutes minimalism for them.
How to Find The Right Balance For You
So where do you fall in the continuum? Or more importantly, where do you want to be?
Do you like a variety of pretty, shiny things too much to give them up? Or does the appeal of less cleaning, more money, more time and the promise of more happiness appeal more?
What is best for you?
Review your most important areas of life and consider if you would benefit from ‘minimalizing’? Or it might be something that you’re ready to dive right into?
If so, I highly recommend checking out the following resources:
- The Minimalist documentary
- The More of Less
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- Clutterfree with Kids
And Me? I would say I’m aiming for about 80% towards minimalism.
I definitely see the merits, and it reminds me of how my grandparents lived their lives.
Sensible, rational and simply. Basic common-sense really?
I just want to swap the overwhelm for a simpler life, the chaos for a more balanced life and then have more time and energy for the important things.
Which, of course, are never ‘things’, are they?