The Art of Minimalism — Less is More
The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
In 2016, like many people I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.” Whilst the documentary was fascinating, it’s immediate impact to me was very minimal. However, as the months and years passed, I found myself regularly being drawn back to the concept of minimalism. As a regular advocate of capitalism and working in finance, I felt that it would be impossible to be a supporter of minimalism as it seemed contradictory. I was wrong.
Minimalism means a lot more than the generic definition of just living with the things you need. It is centred around what is important and removing everything that distracts us from our core purpose. It focuses on your intentions and thus can have striking improvements in many areas of your life.
Various religious groups from Buddhists to Hindus often mention the idea of removing possessions to get spiritual focus. However, the actual term minimalism came from the 50’s and 60’s when the trend was adopted in music, art and design. The philosophy was the same, to remove everything but the instrument or key design pieces. Minimalism has really taken shape with products such as the iPhone with it having greater focus on simplicity. There has been a shift against excess, with a more Zen-like approach being adopted across the globe. It can be seen in architecture with people such as Philip Johnson, Buckminster Fuller and with buildings such as the Barcelona Pavilion.
The concept has grown further as Minimalism can now be associated with all aspects of life. In Japan, the movement has particularly gained a lot of momentum as it works well with Zen Buddhist beliefs. It is worth noting that there are no set standards or expectations, the objective isn’t to be obsessed but to live life in a fulfilling manner.
Freedom from possession
Our culture has inadvertently set the standard that living a happy and good life comes from the accumulation of many things. The more you have, the more happy you are with the assumption that happiness can be bought. However, every belonging requires some sort of attention or energy towards it and with minimalism the idea is to be more aware of the belongings we have and their impacts. Minimalism gives you freedom from wanting to possess with the focus being on other areas such as experiences.
We live in a fast paced world where we have access to everything 24/7. We go from one activity to another or multitasking many things at the same time. The introduction of mobile phones has meant we are constantly connected to everything and everyone. This is where minimalism helps to put things in perspective as it slow things down by focusing on the important matters. With the ever-growing use of social media, we live in a world where celebrities are idolised and their lifestyles are envied by large portions of society. Minimalism is rarely promoted as much but it can still be an attractive way of living. The inner voice helps us to consume less and have more enjoyment with important things whilst still striving to being successful.
Minimalism begins with the mind. Whilst definitions can vary, the goal isn’t to just remove everything but more about evaluating what are the most important things you value.
In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.