Minimalism – I first read about it from different articles online since last year. In fact, Google searches show that worldwide, the trend has increased by 50% in the last 5 years. In Malaysia, the interest is around the same growth rate. To take it one step further, there’s even something called zero-waste lifestyle but we’ll get to that in another article.
I think it’s a great idea, especially in this very materialistic and money-oriented world we’re living in:
Trapped in Consumerism
We cannot escape from advertisements unless we pay to get rid of them – another money-making gimic. Even mother’s day has become so commercialized. There’s a package for almost anything now – baby showers, engagements, funerals, house-warmings and the list goes on. And all these products and services normally come nicely wrapped in excessive packaging that cannot be recycled. The earth is becoming one giant landfill.
I never realized until recently that the biggest advocate of minimalism in my life, is my mother:
From early on, she was always waging war with dad on throwing out his stuff. She frequently preached to us “one in, one out” which simply means, no hoarding. One person doesn’t need 20 pairs of shoes, 30 t-shirts and several bags. Her philosophy didn’t stop at dad, it definitely included us – our drawings, some of our toys, clothes, etc.
She felt the same way about food – she will always just cook enough, even when guests came over. This is kind of unusual for a Chinese family – our culture is such that an abundance of food means you’re taking great care of your guests. It correlates to prosperity too.
Pressure from Culture
Mum highly discouraged presents of all forms and souvenirs too. Another example is during Chinese New Year – people come bearing gifts when they visit their relatives – mostly food baskets and boxes of oranges that they probably bought in bulk at the supermarket. Instead of buying another set of these packages to give to the next relative, she would recycle by taking something that someone gave her previously (obviously while it’s still nice and new, you know). It’s not that she was being kiamsap (“stingy” in Hokkien) – she simply didn’t like the idea of how commercialized Chinese New Year had become.
My mum doesn’t buy much for herself. In fact, she doesn’t like to shop. Window shopping is an absolute waste of time to her. She only buys what she needs.
And that’s the main thing about minimalism, I think:
Do you really need it?
Many times, we buy what we don’t need. Or we buy because it was cheap. Orrrrrrrrr we buy cause we-re socially obligated to (e.g. birthdays, weddings, house warmings. baby showers, Christmas etc). Another bad habit is impulse shopping. And don’t forget, “retail therapy” – shopping to reduce stress.
I’ve definitely been guilty of all of the above. But I started changing slowly and now I can say I have much better control over impulse shopping. I take time to consider how many times I will use the item and if I can see myself using it even in a few years time.
Basically, I have three rules:
Minimalism guidelines for buying something new
- I need it (health or job-related)
- It’s something I know I will definitely use a lot (like a certain type of dress cut)
- It’s a basic – something that everyone needs or has high monetary value even in the future
It also helps to keep track of your spending. Every month, list out what you bought. Put that list somewhere you can see it (e.g in front of your laptop to curb those impulse online purchases). If there’s something you really want for the year, put it on the list so you can see it too. Remember that you need to save up for it.
Here are the reasons why I personally want to commit to minimalism:
Reasons to Adopt Minimalism
- It’s better for the environment (i.e. less trash)
- You save money for other things of higher priority
- It keeps life simple. I don’t know if you guys feel this way too but I find that the more possessions you have, the more stressed you feel – all the clutter everywhere. Those things don’t give you happiness in the long term. Happiness is a state of mind – being content with what you have.
If you’re still not convinced, check out this lady lightbycoco. I used to watch her videos (sadly, she doesn’t upload anymore) and I love her philosophy “Live light”. How beautiful does that sound? Give it a try.
As humans, we’ve become to obsessed with material things. Time to take a step back and re-assess what actually makes you happy when it comes to your possessions. It’s not just objects too, you can apply this approach to many aspects of your life – people, digital clutter, your job even, etc.
What do you think of this philosophy? Leave a comment below.
Another thing that works well with minimalism is zero waste. Read more about it here.
For you ladies out there, you might want to start considering switching over to eco-friendly menstrual products.