February 26, 2010

Minimalist Introspection

Buon giorno. In my last post, I was emphatic that if someone is going to be a Minimalist, that they should do it at their own pace and in their own way. There is no creed or code other than the consensus that you cut back on non-essentials as much as possible so that you have time and money for things that you think are important.

I want to expand on the part where I said that Minimalists can make themselves miserable by viewing every move they make through a filter of, "Does this fit with the Minimalist lifestyle?"

"Yeah, the buttons on your shirt say you've been expanding again!"

Clam up, Nicky. You do want that bonus, don't you?

Anyway. If you go around testing and judging yourself, filtering your every action through whether or not it fits your chosen philosophy, you'll make yourself miserable. This is mainly because there is no creed or code. That thought should be liberating, so do not make it into a prison! Here are some ways that I can imagine people upsetting themselves:
  • Web sites. If you have an online business, sure you don't need all the glitzy bells and whistles. But if you get extreme and take away the coding required to make sales or whatever, you'll lose business.
  • Cooking. Sure, many Minimalists like to have recipes that are only three ingredients. But if you took pride in your cooking, you're destroying a hobby that you loved. Or, perhaps you want to have something that has six ingredients. So freakin' what? Do it! If you're really sold on the three ingredient thing, you can go back to it later. My point is that it's an optional guideline, not a requirement.
  • Dishes. OK, so you gave in and made something with more than three ingredients. Then you have boring dishes (if any) because you judged them to be "Minimalist" dishes. Well, if you saw a pattern or color that you really liked at about the same price but turned it down, you suffered for it. Get what you want. Perhaps the Minimalist bit comes in when you limit the quantity instead of the quality. Just a thought.
  • Computer. If you need a scanner, printer, external hard drive, then by all means, get them. If you cannot justify the cost because you really do not need them, fine. Just don't limit your capabilities because you want to be a Minimalist.
  • Computer software. If you need something like Microsoft Office, then pony up the money and buy it. But do you really need it? I don't have it, but I use Open Source and other free software as much as possible so that I can minimize the impact on my Windows-operated computer. Other aspects of MS Office are useless to me, and I would have wasted time, money and disc space on it if I had purchased it. What about you? Get it if you need it, but in this case, there are clear options to keep it to a minimum.
  • Font. No, sorry. If I'm writing or composing to get attention (advertising, for instance), I'll use whatever I have to so that it's readable and grabs the reader's attention. After that, I'll scale down to something simpler.
  • Job. What would you consider to be a Minimalist job? Shoveling horse crap, maybe? I really do not know. All I know is that you have to get and keep a job to pay your bills (with the obvious exceptions of a legitimate disability or a short time between jobs), so you cannot be picky about filtering what kind of job fits a Minimalist philosophy. If you want to be "you", you have plenty of time when you're not working for that.
  • Lunch. I get microwave lunches, and I don't care if they're Minimalist or not. Just get me through the day, tasty morsel! If you want a Minimalist lunch, then you probably have to make your own.
That's enough. You should be getting the picture that you have to meet your own needs and not make yourself miserable instead of forcing yourself into your chosen philosophy. Remember the thing that got you into Minimalism in the first place? You wanted to reduce the stuff in your life. From there, you make gradual adjustments in other areas, trying them on for size and leaving the adjustments if they don't work for you. Who are you trying to impress? This is for you, capice? I strongly suggest that you back off from the introspection and remember to actually live your life.


Subscribe in a reader