Reconsidering minimalism: 11 suggestions beyond “getting rid of stuff”

I love minimalism. Or should that be, I love the idea of minimalism. I love looking at bared-down bedrooms and barely-furnished living rooms. I love reading blogged lists about minimalist best practices. Yet, I also admit that the minimalist movement leaves something to be desired.

Most minimalist discussion is, paradoxically, about STUFF. Oodles of articles about getting rid of possessions. Plenty about decluttering (a practice that I wholeheartedly endorse). And yes, plenty of those pretty pictures of minimalist décor, wardrobes, workplaces, etc. My question is: what do you do after you get rid of the stuff?

You see, I have gotten rid of my stuff. And I remained pretty much the same selfish and materialist person, whether I had ten or two pairs of shoes.

I got rid of my fashion magazines, but I still took part in gossip.
I got rid of memorabilia, but I still held grudges.
I got rid of excess clothing, but still cared too much what people thought of me.

I’m concerned that minimalism, in its present state, is too preoccupied with outward appearances. Minimalism can also mean decluttering our inward environment, too.

As I don’t want to be another person complaining on the internet, here’s some ideas on how to take minimalism beyond just-not-having-stuff into having-stuff-that-isn’t-stuff.

Meditate, meditate, meditate

Take a class, find a practice, locate a retreat center, download a guided teaching. Practice daily.

Service

Donate your time and talents to your community.  Serve others fiercely.

Prioritize Relationships

Devote energy to being present with people you love. Make the time.

Embrace whole-heartedness

Reject multi-tasking. Do one thing at a time, and focus all your attention on it.

Spend time in nature

Go outside without technology. Walk in the woods. Find a park near your workplace. Look at the sky at night.

Experiment with sabbath-time

Upheld in religious traditions, take some time for pure rest and leisure. Guard this time jealously. Bonus point if you unplug completely.

Connect with your community

Your community might be your neighborhood, your extended family, or supporters of your favorite baseball team. Find your people and cherish them.

Cultivate opportunities to laugh often.

If you don’t know who or what makes you laugh, seek this out.

Cook your own meals

Reject take-out or junk food. Learn how to make delicious home-made meals. Ask your family and friends for their favorite recipes.

Get musical

Learn to play an instrument, join a choir, sing in the shower.

End the day with gratitude

Every night before sleep, write down ten things that you are grateful for. Gratitude is a antidote to greed.

 

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