When I first heard the term “minimalism” some years ago (I honestly can’t remember when that could have been), I had thoughts along the lines of “That’s cool, sounds like something I might like to try sometime.” Then later when I began actively seeking out information about minimalism, I found myself wanting to try out this lifestyle. But for a while that’s all it was: just a want. Over the course of a year of solid focus on my personal implementation of minimalism, I’ve come to realize that simply wanting less is insufficient: I need less wanting less and more action to achieve less. Wanting doesn’t bring results, but action can.
It’s strange that the default expectation of living in an industrialized country is to constantly accumulate items, status, obligations, debt… they all come toward you, even if you just sit around and do nothing. Of course they come at different ratios to different people in different living conditions, but it seems that for most people it’s easier (and socially expected) to accumulate rather than say “No thanks, I’m good.” Just wanting to lead a minimalist lifestyle gets you nowhere, just as wanting to stop an onslaught of advertisements and expectations and insidious pitfalls leads only to getting clobbered. Minimalism requires actual, deliberate, focused work: work to counter compulsive consumption, work to earn a wage that pays the bills but doesn’t coax you into climbing the corporate ladder, work to not take on unnecessary obligations, and work not to become chained to debt.
But is it a struggle? No, I don’t think so; I consider it more of a discipline. It’s a discipline to always be mindful of what is truly necessary, to always be aware of the societal temptations that hold no value to you, to always focus on your health and growth. Discipline takes great dedication and the journey is rarely without bumps and weird detours, but at the end you emerge with a new normal: a life of action, not want. Actively achieving less, not merely wanting less. Actively building a life of meaning, not pining for one.
I’ve never felt more free, more healthy, and more in control of my life than I do right now. And with discipline and action, I see less on the horizon: less that can get in my way of making tomorrow even better.