When it comes to living a life of contentment, minimalism is a common contender for the heavyweight title. The movement to surround ourselves with things that spark joy has furthered this perception—that simply getting rid of enough clutter and only having the things we loved would be the key to success.
While there is some truth to that, there’s an even more profound opportunity hidden in minimalism itself.
Two Reasons Why Minimalism Is Not The Answer
An answer would mean it’s a proposed solution to a question.
When used effectively, minimalism is not a solution. In fact, there are very few solutions at all when it comes to changing your life in meaningful ways.
We’ve all tried time and time again to set goal posts for when we’ll allow ourselves to feel like we’ve “made it.” Time and time again, those goal posts just keep moving further down the field as we set higher or different standards for what it’ll take to find contentment.
Over the last six years of exploring this, I’ve found minimalism to be the same. There’s no magical point where your house starts to look like the magazine covers we covet. There’s no number of items one should own that contains the keys to eternal bliss.
Minimalism is not the answer because it’s not an answer at all.
Minimalism is a question. In a life so easily filled with overwhelm, clutter, chaos, and exhaustion—one where digital devices and marketing messages use every possible strategy to capture moments of our precious attention—we must ask ourselves a question.
We must ask a question of which there is no singular “good” answer. Looking at minimalism as a process, one that helps us remove the clutter that keeps us from a meaningful life, we can ask that question. With regularity.
The most beneficial aspect of spending six-plus years asking this question is not a bare household with two cereal bowls and two spoons with which to eat every meal. It’s not owning less than 100 items, either. Both of these scenarios are not even remotely true for Amy and me.
The most beneficial aspect of asking this question with regularity is that it reinforces and affirms one essential fact: That our attention has immense value.
We have less attention than we do time, and our time is limited—so to embrace minimalism in a way that forces us to ask, “What do I want to pay attention to?” is to live the question of minimalism.
Six years in, I’m still discovering and uncovering things about myself about ways I have allowed clutter to hide for decades. I’ve increasingly gained a greater understanding that my false first steps were not just careless purchases but rather attempts to personally feel like enough.
It’s painful, yes. There’s a reason we bury ourselves in this clutter—coping with the overwhelm of the world at large. But, so far, it’s worth it—and I encourage you to explore what answers might come from asking: minimalism?
You can read more about the Break the Twitch approach to minimalism in these other posts: