The Minimalism Experiment
Being a student can be chaotic, stressful and a lot of the time overwhelming. Even though we are often told by our parents “how good we have it”, things are not the same as as they were when they attended school. School, grades, work, saving money, relationships, transportation, hobbies, social life, and more are all very typical aspects of the student experience, but now there is the added pressure of online life and maintaining a digital and material image that will propel you through university and onto your future career.
All these stresses and pressures can seem like a lot at times, and really wear away at a person’s mental health, so what if there was a way to eliminate the clutter and focus on what really matters?
Over the last few months I have been listening to a podcast called The Minimalists, by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus. This podcast focuses on various topics each week, but mainly delves into how the two gradually switched to a Minimalist lifestyle because of the unhappiness they were enduring in their lives both personally and professionally. After spending time listening to these podcasts, the concept of Minimalism began to really click with me. Why spend so much time and energy on the things that don’t matter, when you could be directing that energy toward things that bring you joy and progress?
"Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt.Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom".
The concept of Minimalism not only echoed with me on an interpersonal level, but it also made me think about the concept of non-violence. I myself hate confrontation, and try to shy away from violence as much as I can, but upon further inspection, there are so many ways that violence can be communicated without harsh words or punches. For instance, the concept of consumerism can at its core be considered violent . Not only does it create competition between individuals about who looks better, who owns the nicer material items, and who has more money, but it is also destroying the planet.
The ability to buy so many items for such cheap prices, made of our Earth’s precious natural recourses, and then simply throw them away to a landfill when we are finished is a very violent act toward the place that we call home. Another example can be seen when looking at social media. When we spend so much time talking on text, or through the sending of meme’s back and forth, we do not learn to communicate and deal with conflicts properly face to face. If we do not have practice in this area, there is no hope for us to learn to act non-violently when we do not have the luxury of hashing it out on a screen.
After considering all the previous factors, I have chosen to practice varying aspects of a Minimalist life style over the next 8 weeks. Since the concept of Minimalism is such a personal, and unique process that can be changed based on any person’s preferences or already existing life style, I will focus on a different aspect of minimalism each week that I feel works for my life style. My hope for this experiment/experiance is that will make me a more relaxed, focused and non-violent individual. By focusing on a new aspect every week, I will be able to try it, decide if it fits with my life style, learn from it, and choose to whether or not to keep implementing it in my life.
I am really looking forward to the journey that Minimalism is going to take me on this semester, and I can’t wait to see how I come out on the other side!