Minimalism

26 Jan

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

house on a lake; text overlay: minimalism

Have you heard of this yet? The idea is that you willingly choose to live with less: specifically less things, less distractions from life. Not only does it include paring down your shoe collection and stack of magazines, but it also means evaluating everything in your life that is taking up space both actual and symbolic (i.e., do you really need 845 Facebook friends?).

There’s a lot of talk going on about minimalism (and even some controversy) and what it means in a consumer society like the United States’ today. We’ve become so obsessed with our possessions that we’re not paying attention to the actual people and how they matter in our life. Think about it… As a college student you may feel like you “never have time” to see your friends, get your homework done, and eat a decent meal…but how many times did you check Facebook today? How long did it take you to sort through the pile of clothes on your floor to find something to wear?

These guys have gotten lots of attention for their minimalist lifestyles, and they have a documentary coming out about it next year. Both of them had the jobs and lives we think we’re supposed to have (6 figure  salary, easily obtained high end products, big houses, etc.) but they weren’t actually happy. And once they realized how much their stuff was holding them back, they freed themselves from the very frustration of “stuff”.

It’s hard to admit how dependent and addicted we are to our stuff sometimes because our world tends to measure successes by how much stuff we have accumulated and can afford… But is it always worth it if it doesn’t bring lasting happiness?

This can really be applied across all aspects of life. We can’t take a vacation because we have to work, which we do to earn money for the vacation, but then we buy things for and during the vacation that take away from the experience of going on that vacation with others. It can be exhausting and psychologically impeding. Keeping up with our stuff takes too much of our time and space. And that’s exactly what minimalism is fighting. It’s fighting against not just the addiction of stuff, but also the sense of emptiness more stuff brings.

The same guys I mentioned earlier had a minimalist game out a couple years ago where you get rid of stuff every day for a month. Day 1, one thing, Day 2, two things…Day 30, 30 things. By the end of 30 days that’s 465 things! I bet you don’t even think you own 465 things (and if you’re living in a dorm, you probably really shouldn’t) but everything counts: each piece of clothing, every bottle of nail polish, every half-empty deodorant bottle, every old container of mints, every cup of Ramen you never got around to eating. Every one of these is stuff that’s taking up space and creating chaos in that space.
Is this a challenge you’ve tried or are interested in trying? Let us know in the comments below!

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