In our ever-connected world, it’s hard to avoid being bombarded by a constant flurry of information from the moment we open our eyes to the moment we fall asleep mid-scroll. Minimalism offers a promise of peace in simplicity amidst the noise of clutter. Let us take a look at how this not-so new concept is gaining traction in today’s world.
Japanese Zen: The beginning of a movement
The Japanese philosophy of Zen encouraged a spare aesthetic-- focusing on simple, thoughtful choices. It can be said that minimalism has evolved from this philosophy, and over the decades, this aesthetic has inspired art, design and literature.
Spreading joy and saying goodbye
Perhaps not coincidentally, it is this “zen” that has inspired two Japanese authors to spread the word on the benefits of minimalism and decluttering. “ Minimalism is essential, not just in Japan, but for any first world nation” says Fumio Sasaki, author of Goodbye, Things. In the book, Sasaki details why and how he gave up on his consumerist lifestyle, choosing to live with the very basics. The same conscious effort to strive for simplicity has also guided Marie Kondo in living her life. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a phenomenon, topping the New York Times bestseller list in over 86 weeks, and is a confirmation that this generation is ready for the minimalist lifestyle. The gist of Kondo’s book is simple: When deciding which possession to keep, one must ask “Does it spark joy?”
But what about the things that we can’t avoid spending money on, like shelter? The Millenial Housing Lab-- an action lab founded by Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School and Harvard Design School makes a case for an environmentally friendly and simpler way of life through their focus on the Tiny House Movement. Among their projects is the recently launched Getaway which gives city-dwellers an opportunity to get out of the city for a weekend and live in tiny cabins for $99 a night.
To help people understand the various facets of the minimalist lifestyle, millenials Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus created the film Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. The documentary dissects this trend and examines the lives of minimalists – all striving to live meaningful and happy lives with less. The filmmakers are self-confessed minimalists as well, and share the values millenials live by: financial security, freedom, simplicty and putting a value on experience rather than materialistic desire.
Perhaps we can learn a thing or two about minimalists. After all, a simple life is a happy life and, you never know, the environment, your wallet and your mind may just thank you for it.
Have you started to embrace minimalism? Is it something that interest you? Comment below to share your thoughts.