Minimalism as a Way of Life


Most of you can relate to having that one set of crockery that is stored in the box it came in, besides some other unused stuff, that your parents say we would use on some special occasion. Expectedly that occasion never arrives and those sets of plates just keep gathering dust. Or you might have seen the humorous ads saying ‘OLX pe bech de!’(‘Sell it on OLX!’). Most of what people own they barely use and this has led to something called Minimalism.

What is Minimalism?

My idea of ‘Minimalism’ was limited to only art forms, paintings, graphic designs, etc. Never did I think it could be a form of lifestyle. In this context, minimalism is the act of living life with only the essentials. What you don’t need gets thrown out. 

In recent years this style of living has gained popularity and has become a type of trend. What is interesting is the fact that people think it's a new concept. Sadhus and Sanyasis have been living like this for years. Someone we all know had such a lifestyle, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. I think the Mahatma, the father of our nation, is the aptest role model for people who wish to live a life of simplicity. 

The lifestyle we lead or thrive to achieve nowadays is full of distractions. New things get made every day, things you would desire. A new car, a new mobile phone, new clothes and so much more. The times when food, clothing, and shelter were the basic human needs are long gone, the internet is now becoming a household thing in even the most remote areas. We strive towards the ‘luxuries’ and not ‘necessities’.

It would be unfair for me to advise you to take up minimalism. After all, I have no intention of abandoning my possessions. But what I can tell you is how it can change your life. Once again I would refer to the teachings of ‘Bapu’ and how he wanted people to focus on what really matters.

The Beauty of a Simple Life

People hoard objects anticipating the slightest possibility of it ever being of any use. They overpack stuff trying to be ready for every situation even though the stuff required can be easily accessible everywhere. All these activities are stressful. The more things you have, the more you have to worry about them. Because the majority of the things you own are the ones that you don't even need. So isn’t it better to avoid the hassle and live with no strings attached to junk?

Mahatma followed this idea ever since he came back to India, rarely any photo of him exists in which he is not seen with the iconic single dhoti and stick. He believed that everything he owns should have its purpose and is all that he needs, desiring more would be greedy.

Freedom From Minimalism

The less you want the less you are dependent on others. Today, when the world is in their homes, many of us have stopped ordering food and learned how to cook or go for haircuts and trying to cut it ourselves. Our lives are in some sense ‘out-sourced’. It is not that we are not capable of a certain level of self-sufficiency rather we are not accustomed to it.

Gandhiji spun his own cloth, the charkha was one of the first symbols of Indian struggle for freedom. He advised Indians to do the same and boycotting foreign cloth.

Other Benefits of Minimalism

All that came before is intangible. Talking about material gain from minimalism, money. It's obvious that not buying stuff means more savings. If you own fewer things you don't need a large place to keep said things, meaning you save money. 

More savings means you can spend less time doing something to earn that money and spend more time with people building up better relationships, or pursue a hobby. All this can benefit your well being.

Not only that, consuming only what is required leaves more for the future generation. Saving the resources for others is what Gandhiji hinted at by saying, ‘There is enough on this planet for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed.’

The Limitations of Minimalism

The idea of living free of attachment comes with its own set of binds. There are reasons this lifestyle is difficult to follow. Some can be psychological and some financial. 

Most people are not born with a silver spoon in their mouths and work hard for what they own, the benefits of giving up what they bought can rarely surpass their desire to cherish it. Minimalism gives priority to experiences and not materialism, not considering that to have experiences one needs money, which can prove difficult for some people.

What Are We Supposed to Do? 

Although the benefits seem alluring we cannot abandon things that are an important part of our lives. We need to understand that minimalism is not necessarily extreme in nature. One does not need to live with only the purpose of surviving, he/she should just draw a line and keep things of value and rid themselves of the unnecessary chaos in life. We need to find a balance that suits us individually and act accordingly.

To wrap up, a harmonious balance between our needs and our wants is what the idea of minimalism calls for. 

Written by - Mayank Tak

Edited by - Maryam Salim

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