I’m going to introduce the word minimalism into your mind.
We’ve all heard it, and for instance, it’s very well known in art, also an aesthetic. It usually deals with very few colors, easy on the eyes, and is overwhelmingly … simple. But its simplicity is art. It can actually be very very difficult to accomplish minimalist art because of our perfectionist brains, and our tendency to feel that it is never enough. I know I have these thoughts from time to time.
Let’s take this concept, and bring it into our daily lives. Think of a minimalist painting. Two colors. Calm and simple. Doesn’t distract from what is, but just is. Think of some minimalist music. Could be some Philip Glass, or a really ambient droning instrument that doesn’t seem to “go anywhere”, but if you pay attention, it’s quite the journey. Doesn’t distract from what is, but just is. Minimalism isn’t harsh, overwhelming, or over stimulating. It is in harmony with what is around, but if you pay attention, its beauty is there. But you have to be mindful, present, and appreciate it for what it is.
Minimalism is not a lifestyle to overcomplicate, or convince yourself it’s not possible because you live in a city or have a family. It doesn’t mean you have to backpack and be alone and own NOTHING. It is simply a way to gain freedom, and let go of all the BS in your life that has zero purpose.
Minimalism is very known in the West, more so than wabi-sabi is, so it’s a great way to get started into a full wabi-sabi lifestyle. It is essentially the Western wabi-sabi.
So why don’t we practice minimalism? The answer is materialism. Materialism – “a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values”.
Materialism is more significant in the U.S. than anywhere else really. We are a materialistic society, and it’s been prominent in our lives for over a hundred years. With the industrial revolution creating commercialism, we all of a sudden need more and more, more convenience, and “status”. Whatever is the underlying cause, it is making us unhappy, and that is because we will never have enough, when in reality, we always have enough.
But how can we help our materialistic tendencies? Well, if we aren’t aware, we truly can’t.
You come home from a long day at work exhausted. So you eat your Chinese takeout leftovers and watch T.V. all night, bombarded with commercials subconsciously saying to you that if “you have this you will be happy”. Even in certain social situations, you look at people and see everyone doing something specific and it subconsciously tells you “look you need this to “fit” in”. But in reality it is your ego, saying that you need all this “stuff” to make you happy. In reality, we’re not enjoying the fact that we’re simply living in this present moment. But without being aware of this commercialized phenomenon that’s drowned into our lives, we would have no idea that we don’t actually need this stuff.
We look at our “stuff” constantly and don’t pay any mind to it really. It’s just our stuff. But our stuff is a reflection of our own minds. It truly is. Our closet is overflowing, we have way too many shoes, more pillows than we need, too many knickknacks, “sentimental” items, and a phone overcluttered with apps that we are checking way more than we should. Have you ever felt ridiculous after opening your phone and going to the Facebook app without any reason why?
This is all an obsession with materialism, a fake, illusionary world that has become “normal”.
In order to live minimalist, you must ask yourself “is this useful?”. NOT “do I need this?”. The problem with “needing” something is that it can be tied with our ego. We look a sweater and think, I may want it in the near future even though I haven’t worn it yet. No. Stop it. Get rid of it.
Seeing a bookshelf, ” is this useful?”. Yes, it’s the only one I have and I love reading, thus I have a lot of books. I’ll keep it for practical reasons.
Like I said, you don’t need to get rid of all of your possessions, social networking, your career, etc. to practice minimalism, or wabi-sabi. Just think to yourself, “is this useful?”
If you are interested, there is a film by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus called The Minimalists. It is a fantastic watch and I highly recommend.