Minimalism is a Question
Minimalism is a question. It prompts you to look at yourself and your lifestyle from a different lens. Minimalism isn’t an all-encompassing, singular question we answer. It’s a framework of questions that involves reconsidering daily decisions you don’t realize you’re making. Every time we take action, no matter how large or small, we are essentially in the decision-making process. When we decide to make a quick purchase or add something to our calendars that distract us from our priorities, we answer the minimalism question.
I drank caffeinated tea every morning for about twenty years. I consumed alcohol for about twenty as well (not every day!). These almost felt like non-decisions. They are just what I did. They were considered normal behavior. But they were tiny answers I was giving every day until I stopped. Illuminating these automatic actions so we can see them as the questions and answers that they are, allows us to be mindful and no longer have an auto-pilot life.
Minimalism is a question. But like most other questions about our lives, this one asks us to be honest. It asks us first to clear our minds. Then, it asks us to perform inner work and coalesce that work with the external practicalities of life.
Minimalism is a question like those we ask ourselves when packing for a trip. While packing presents us with more limitations (volume and time), it asks us- what do you need? What tools will help you experience your life? And we HAVE to answer this question. If we don’t, we won’t have anything on our trip.
Like all questions, how and when you ask influences the answer. If you ask these questions when you’re already frustrated, the answers will be rash. If you ask them when you’re at a store filled with goodies that capture your desires, you may lie to yourself. If you frame a question such that keeping an item is the default, and you have to make a case to get rid of it, you’ll end up owning a lot more than you need.
Even when we know to ask them, these questions can create a problem that prevents us from asking these questions more: overthinking, which leads to decision fatigue. You shouldn’t spend more time thinking about whether you should let go of something than the time you thought about bringing it into your home. We tend to over question ourselves when it doesn’t benefit us and under question ourselves regarding our lifestyles and the stuff we accumulate.
Other than when packing or moving or undergoing another substantial life transition, we don’t have an impetus to ask minimalism questions. If we even think to, it seems like too much work. And I don’t want to add a lot more work to your plate. The point of using minimalism as a question is not to overanalyze.
Minimalism is a question without any wrong answers but it also doesn’t have any right answers. We tend to think in a right/wrong or good/bad mentality. But there is no way to know the future. And there is no way to evaluate the matrix of inputs when making a decision appropriately. So take off the pressure to get it right, especially as your answers may change over time or need to be adjusted as you proceed.
There’s a bit more upfront work as you first create your minimalist lifestyle, but then you have a life where questioning things is simply the way you think, and you arrive at answers with ease because you know yourself better, your life is aligned with your values, and don’t take things too seriously. So while minimalism is a question, it can also be your answer.