BY ALEX STRACHAN
I don’t think I’m the only one who’s been intrigued by the wave of minimalism that seems to be taking over Netflix documentaries, lifestyle magazines, even interior decorating styles.
For the sake of being the most recognizable I’ll mention the Netflix documentary that inspired this thought in me – “Minimalism: A documentary about the important things”. This movie followed the life changing events of one person who took it upon himself to live with less to make him happier.
I’ve taken a lot of interest with this movement or trend because I think it’s important to be critical of the world we live in: that is of mass consumption, instant gratification, and relying on “stuff” to bring us happiness. It’s a defining feature of millennials and it is often used as a jab that older generations like to throw at millennials. It’s ironic to note that mass consumption and huge waste started with the baby boomers … but I’m not here to poke fun at other generations.
I’m writing to examine the legitimacy minimalism has and what place it could have in our lives without being too critical of ourselves. In the end, yes, we are growing up in a hyper consumer-capitalist and technological crazed era and we can’t do much about that. We can, however, change how these things influence our lives.
I’ll start by saying some people take minimalism very seriously. A stand-out example of this is Alison Mazurek of @600sqftandababy. She lives with her husband and two children, under the age of 6, in a 600-square foot apartment. I have a feeling that it might get a little crammed when they get older…and might not want to share a bunk bed.
I don’t know this family’s long-term plans and I do admire that they’re attempting to live in a smaller home with less pollution etc. etc. They are single-handedly having a more carbon-neutral relationship with the environment, teaching their kids to value moments and people, not things, and that joy comes from within not the external. I admire all of that and think those are the values we should take away from minimalism.
But sometimes trends and fads definitely get swept up in the craze of social media and become a little disjointed along the way. @600sqftandababy are probably living the way they are because that makes them happy, but that doesn’t mean if you want to have a more minimal life you should start building your tiny home. You should be more critical about what you consume and how you do so. Be aware of business ethics and values, try to find happiness in other places in your life. Make a pact with yourself that when you’re out for dinner or with friends to not look at your phone – or whatever may be reasonable for you.
Being a millennial, I can say we are definitely very enthralled with our technology: can’t go without it, can’t live without it. And I doubt all extreme minimalist don’t have cell phones, but I think that living a minimalist lifestyle means allowing for you to realize when you are using your technology it shouldn’t be interrupting your daily life. Don’t let social media take over to the point that you are constantly bombarded by advertisements, marketing, and other people’s “perfect” seeming lives. This “take over” can make you feel that consuming and having a lot of “stuff” is the way to happiness. It’s probably impossible to stop this feeling all together, but minimalism should teach us to value what we do have, value where we are in life in that moment, value who we have and, finally, value ourselves and our own happiness.
Some people may have two kids in a 600-square foot apartment, and only 7 pairs of underwear but we can all live a minimalistic life in our own way.