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Minimalism might seem like all the rage these days, but its roots go back to the sixties where it first appeared in New York as a form of rebellion against the worn-out academic style in visual arts. Over time, its philosophy gradually spread beyond this medium to:
Interior design – it was about uncluttered spacious rooms, natural and clean forms.
Architecture – it brought basic geometrical forms, clean spaces, and a lot of natural light.
Fashion – during the sixties, two French designers introduced minimalism, and Twiggy was the most famous model that popularized minimalistic approach with her mod shift dresses. One glance at the fashion in 2016 and you’ll see similar trends: monochromatic outfits, natural fabrics, simple cuts, and neutral earthy tones dominated the runways. High street fashion brands embraced minimalism, making it easier than ever for a wearer to show authenticity with minimum details.
In the simplest of definitions on minimalism, The Minimalists define it as “a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” Minimalism has allowed me to draw my focus from material things to the ones that really matter and cannot be replaced: family, friends, and real experiences.
Here are five ways minimalism changed my life and I think it can change yours too:
A GREATER SENSE OF SELF: YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR POSSESSIONS
Realizing the things you own have nothing to do with your identity is liberating. Too often, we get emotionally attached to objects when in fact – they can get in the way of conscious living. Clearing the external space around you can give way to more space for internal serenity. Minimalism has also supported me through my quarter-life crisis: even though I’m still not quite sure what I’m doing with my life, drawing focus to myself instead of my possessions, helped me realize I am a multi-potentialite.
A NEWFOUND PERSONAL STYLE
My newfound minimalistic lifestyle reflected in the way I dressed too. I started with donating clothes I knew no longer fit my overall lifestyle. Next, I began building a wardrobe that felt more like me: simple. I felt at peace with myself and didn’t feel the need to draw too much of attention with invading colors or patterns. Not that there is anything wrong with colors or patterns, but I tried to adopt a style that was a bit more mature with pieces that could easily be matched together. I looked for simple black evening dresses as I’ve realized that I didn't need to follow current trends but rather, choose pieces that make me feel confident and enhance my attributes. Black, gray, white, olive, and beige dominate my closet. I learned that when I started appreciating the fact I can look good effortlessly, I actually drew more attention to myself.
APPRECIATION OF EXPERIENCES OVER POSSESSIONS
Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a concert ticket. Try turning to experiences instead of purchasing goods: adventures, concerts, and traveling. Alexa von Tobel, the founder of Learnvest, says this is called the “cost per happy“. That experience will likely bring you more hours of joy as you look back on the memories, compared to that bomber jacket you wore twice while freaking out if you are pulling off the trend.
Embracing minimalism has made me realize I don’t want to waste my life hating Mondays, just paying bills, while working for the weekend. To truly live, I needed to remember what’s important: laughing with friends, traveling, falling in love, even the everlasting life drama I was convinced would pass after high school. Minimalism helped me declutter the distractions and realize the essence of life.
Clutter has been found to zap people of their energy, myself included. Clearing up my personal space made me feel more in control and focused, as if I cleaned up my mental space, too.
This doesn’t mean you need to strip your room from any personal touch. On the contrary, some little things (e.g. photos or artwork) are what make one's house a home. However, with minimalism, I realized that notion of home is much broader than a place I live in. Make sure objects truly have a purpose to make your space warmer instead of just collecting dust and making you anxious and trapped without you even realizing it.
My transition towards minimalism did not happen all of the sudden: it was a slow process that eventually took over my life. As I've continued along the this journey, I feel more free and happy.