Slow and Minimalism

Slow and Minimalism1

I was reading the other day about Leo Babauta (the public face of minimalism) and Robert Wringham (the editor of  the New Escapologist) only own 50 and 20 things respectively.

I own shit loads of stuff.

And I don’t care.

I never saw slowing down being particularly about minimalism, or jettisoning things. Minimalism, frugality and the Slow philosophy, of course have crossovers, Slow is about reducing waste and utilising things intelligently, it is about quality over quantity (and recently I have very much enjoyed experimenting with frugality and seeing how little I can spend and how long I can go without spending anything. But that is a subject for another post). Not wasting things or avoiding surrounding your self with stuff just to try and fulfil an emotional need are noble and honourable goals to achieve (ones we should all be aiming towards really).

But we have to do it in an intelligent way. It is not about the stuff we have, it is about the relationship with have with that stuff…

Slave to Simplicity

Of course, if you don’t want to burden yourself with physical possessions go for it. But don’t feel like you have to or even should abandon everything you own.

You can easily become a slave to simplicity, jettisoning things because you think you should, out or guilt, or some misguided idea that having lots of possessions is a bad thing, and make yourself very miserable in the process.

Is this better than owning lots of things? Both will make you miserable.

And Slow certainly isn’t about being ascetic or earnest or acting like a flagellant monk (unless you want to, of course).

I may have a lot of “possessions” but I don’t really consider I own anything. It is just stuff I have lying around. I find it makes my life more fun, interesting and enjoyable. At the moment. When they don’t or start “costing” me happiness I will jettison them. Probably.

If I lost all that stuff overnight, I wouldn’t really miss any of it (apart from a handful of possessions), but right now I prefer having it around than not having it around.

You see, it is not the amount of stuff that you have, it is the relationship you have with the stuff that you have got that counts.

Every bit of stuff you own (and that, conversely, owns you) has a cost (in attachment, craving or financial and time cost) and a return (in the GENUINE enrichment that bit of stuff gives you). Obviously the balance should sway towards the more positive enrichment. But so often we get stuff, thinking it will give us pleasure, but ultimately it ends up costing us it instead.

You need to evaluate and change the relationship you have with your stuff. Just jettisoning it will not solve the problem you will end up just craving for it again, feeling miserable (or worse, the pain, craving and desire you feel will turn back on itself and turn you into one of those overly earnest, judgemental people. Or, as I like to call them, idiots. Don’t do that, please).

Be mindful about how the stuff you own makes you feel, does it enrich you and your life or are you clinging to it due to some misguided believe that you should, need or have to have it?

Deal with the craving first, the attachments and the emotions that the stuff gives you, and it won’t matter how much or how little you have.

Only then will you truly be free of physical possessions.

Matt