Using simple things

As I try to move towards minimalism, I discover what it is like in different dimensions.

When one starts to explore minimalism, it starts outside one's being, with the process of downsizing and keeping that state. Literature targets reduction of physical (and sometimes digital) belongings and presents it as the starting point and the only possible path. For these methods, victory is achieved when nothing else can be removed from peoples' living spaces.

The promise of removing items from one's life is simple, as I outlined in my previous post, Meditations on minimalism: Reduced mental load and having more time.

While these results are correct, directly targeting belongings as a starting point is a shallow perspective on the issue, in my opinion. The process is concerned with items themselves and how the result looks from outside. It's akin to curating your garden for that perfect look to envy your neighbors and pushes the owner and expected utility of the lawn out of the picture, like it doesn't matter.

However, for most of us, external clutter and build-up is a reflection of our inner state and disorganization. In other words, having a minimal set of belongings or preventing ingress of extra items is not possible without solving the problems causing these things in the first place. Then, the question evolves from "How can I reduce my belongings?" to "What is causing this crowdedness in the first place?".

I have found out that the biggest contributor to this crowdedness is stress. When the stress level starts to increase in my life, I try to balance it out by adding things which brings joy or postpones this stress until I have strength to deal with it, meaning I play more casual games, tend to procrastinate more by reading articles and watching videos, and by buying things. When I reach to the other end of the stressful period, I find myself with a small mound of clutter, which pushes me back in my journey.

However, I found another way.

During these periods between trying to cope with stress and having an easy time, I found out that one of the things I enjoy most is using simple things. The items are I put in this category have common properties. They are high quality items which do their job well, are not over the top neither in appearance or in cost, are not disposable, and are not overly complicated. Like a well made fountain pen or a double edge razor.

These items make me happy in more than one way. First, these items are built to last a lifetime and beyond when cared correctly. Second, using these items for a long time makes them accumulate memories. Writing an important note, something to remember, or a letter? That pen has seen it all, and will make you remember. Same for your other items you use for a long time. All will store and will make you remember important or significant moments in your life, reminding you what you have gone through.

And, in these moments, you will feel that you have lived and you're alive. Feeling this is both precious and way more fulfilling than many things in life. It allows you to see beyond the daily routine and peek into your soul, helping you to root better and balance yourself.

Use simple things, and simplify your soul before trying to simplify your material belongings. Because, minimalism starts inside.

Until next time,

Be kind.