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3 Reasons to Become a Minimalist

Category : Frugal Habits, Personal Development, Personal Finance, Retirement

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship. — Benjamin Franklin

One of the greatest follies of our culture is the notion that possessions depict financial progress in your life. As we make more money, we are conditioned to spend more to buy things we don’t need. We go out of our way to please those who don’t contribute an iota of wisdom to enrich our lives either financially or spiritually.

Enter the world of minimalism. It brings sanity to our otherwise insane spend-o-holic behavior.

There has been a lot written about minimalism on the Internet, so I won’t dwell much on that subject. However, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to live without a car or without cable TV to proclaim that you are a minimalist.  Steve Jobs was a minimalist, but I don’t think he lived without a car or cable TV. After all, he had an iPhone and iPad.

Nonetheless, there are plethora of reasons why you want to embrace minimalism. The chief aim is to gain freedom from the vicious circle of illusion. The illusion to make more money only to fund higher lifestyle. And keep making more — to move the lifestyle bar higher — to please those who don’t care about your happiness.

1.   Your happiness

I believe that all of us strive to achieve one and only one goal — to become happy.  You make money and save money —  not to retire, but to achieve financial independence — so that you can wake up everyday to do whatever your soul wants. It may be to help a child learn how to read,  or to take a long walk on a sunny day.

The idea is to get away from the bondage of possessions. As you start living with less stuff, your finances will improve even with the same income. The focus ought to be on your inner happiness — yoga, meditation or quiet time for the soul-searching.

I’ve started looking at all aspects of my life — my daughters have left home — since last fall. We used to own 4 cars. Now, we have three. Third car sits in the garage, so I’ve decided to sell it soon.

2. Your friends

The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing. — Socrates

You are the average of friends you surround with. Your friends influence your thoughts, so they influence the person you eventually become.

I’ve started cultivating relationships that are helping me grow my inner happiness. I am categorizing people into three buckets.  1.  Those who think that world is ending, and our best days are in the pages of history. 2. Those who are self-centric, and 3. Those who know what they don’t know.  I’ve started cultivating relationships with friends who know what they don’t know. They have incessant desire to learn and improve their lives.

3.  Your thoughts

Thoughts are intangible, yet thoughts are things. Our thoughts shape our lives. But we don’t pay as much attention to the information diet that feeds and grow our thoughts.

When you watch TV, you are either getting brainwashed politically or getting conditioned to believe that our world is filled with negativity.  Most news stories are sensational because sensation sells.  Do I really need to know about every murder story on the popular news channel? Or how Kim Kardashian is dealing with her failed marriage?

I don’t have cable TV for more than six months now, and I feel no desire to entertain any offers from Direct TV ever. It dawned on me few months ago that I own seven flat screen TV sets in my house. I will be selling them before they are worthless.

This change has allowed me to focus more on reading and sharing via this blog.

Parting thoughts:

Minimalism is a highway to happiness. It facilitates your smooth journey to what excites you to wake up and live life. Think about it. I am not insinuating to live like a monk by being a minimalist; rather, I am using it as a thought process to revisit every facet of my life — to remove excess to lessen my financial liabilities — so that I can enjoy life and pursue those things that bring lasting happiness.

Possessions are not just metaphorical representation of stuff we own; rather, possessions represent those friends and thoughts that are no worst than worthless stuff we harbor.

Readers: Have you looked at how you are living now and ever thought about changing any aspect to live life of your dream? Do you consider minimalism as an esoteric lifestyle? Or you agree that minimalism can help you achieve lasting happiness?

Life does not consist mainly — or even largely — of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head. — Mark Twain

(Photo courtesy: Otomodachi)

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Comments (28)

another great post and a sound reminder that minimalism is not just about stuff that clutters your life, but people and thoughts that do the same.

The older I get the more real that becomes. My response has been to increasingly hold each day precious. I’ve become steadily more relentless in purging from my life things, activities and people who no longer add value while seeking out and adding those few that do.

4 cars? 7 TVs? LOL!

You’ve hit the nail on the head! You can indeed improve quality of your life by improving quality of your thoughts.

Beautifully written post, Shilpan. Adapting to the concept of minimalism is the best thing that anyone can do to improve the quality of life. There is nothing more sad than living with the fallacy that possessions and unnecessary spending is what brings happiness and personal fulfillment.

Minimalism helps you achieve financial independence so that you can pursue what excites you most on a given day.

I think minimalism is an appealing way to live. As long as it is done in moderation. I have hear horror stories of people wanting to get rid of everything they own, so they can call themselves minimalists.

To me minimalism is a streamlined clutter free life, where more time is spent doing what you want rather than worrying about what you have.

I agree with you. Minimalism can help you achieve mental clarity, but you don’t have to live like a monk to become a minimalist.

Very true! I have noticed that the older I get, the less “stuff” I seem to need, and the happier I am with that. There are many times when a nice day with the family or good gathering are more exciting that buying something big from Best Buy.

We are wired to associate our happiness with stuff; happiness has nothing to do with it.

[...] – Shilpan [...]

I have an upcoming post about the world ending…I hope it doesn’t ruin our friendship! :p But in all seriousness, I appreciate this perspective on minimalism. I think moderation in all things is good, and simplifying your life does not equate to throwing EVERYTHING out: just the things, people and thoughts that don’t add any value, joy or utility to your life.

Not at all. After all, world should have ended long time ago according to some predictions. :)

I love minimalism and have been slowly but surely trying to move my family that direction.. It feels great to lighten your load.

It brings mental clarity and focus needed to live happily.

We’re all different (even in my household :-)) but for me, the less material items I have around me, the happier I am. Stuff translates to time required to me, and I value nothing more than my time. Clutter and lots of stuff makes me anxious.

You and I are on the same page, Kurt!

I’ve had a hard time sorting out what it means to be minimalist in the past. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to strive for minimalism for the sake of minimalism. What I really want is simplicity.

I strive to eliminate unnecessary noise in my life and my finances. The result is i’m much more success at attaining my goals and happier while doing it!

Agreed. Simplicity is the key to your happiness. In fact, my context for the minimalism is more for the simplicity — to reduce mental and physical clutter for clarity.

Yes, it’s the reason I am active in business – not to have loads of material possessions, but to enjoy the freedom that it brings. Because I earn all my money online I can work when and where I want. Also there is more earning potential in business than there is in employment. I want to increase my earnings so that I am more free to visit new places and expereince new things.

You’ve figured out the secret of happiness my friend!

7 flat screens!?! I thought my 3 was excessive.

It dawned on me after I stopped watching TV! Shame on me.

I love this post. I have been working on simplifying my life for the last few years. It is still a work in progress but I can definitely attest to feeling less stressed and more happy. It seems the less you have the more content you are.

Thank you Miss T for stopping by. I agree with you that less possessions equate to less stress and improved happiness.

[...] 3 Reasons To Become A Minimalist at Street Smart Finance [...]

[...] 3 Reasons to Become a Minimalist Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship. — Benjamin Franklin One of the greatest follies of our culture is the notion that possessions depict financial progress in your life. As we make more money, we are conditioned to spend more to… Read more [...]

[...] pal Shilpan makes the great point that becoming a minimalist is not about deprivation and it is about purging from your life things, thoughts and people no [...]

[...] news is sad but it also teaches us all that sooner we learn to embrace  thoughts and friends with Midas touch of a minimalist, sooner we can begin our journey for a purpose driven and happy [...]

[…] – Shilpan […]

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