I used to adore stuff. All kinds of stuff. During my teenage years, my only two interests were partying and thinking about what new cool piece cloth to buy. Every time I went out shopping, I was thrilled, excited to purchase something new. I thought that this new thing will make my life complete and rid me out of the misery. And even though I felt happy (and I still do) when I was buying something, not long after the feeling of joy was replaced by the same weary feeling that prompted me to go out shopping in the first place. But instead of figuring out why I felt anxious, I was trying to fill the void with even more physical goods.
Naturally, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff throughout the years. Some of them useful others downright stupid. Thankfully, somewhere along the way, I found this minimalism thing. This now trendy lifestyle concept that’s getting a bit banal.
Still, if we disregard all the noisy posts, the well-presented Instagram stories that are probably fake, and the quick courses that are prompting you to buy things, I can assure you that adopting the lifestyle of owning less, a.k.a the minimalist lifestyle, at least to some extent, can help you find clarity, satisfaction, and joy.
How do I know? Well, when I first started this site my intention was to document my minimalist journey. Along the way though, durmonski.com became something more – a place where I share the lessons I learn from the books I read. And although I no longer write how to be a minimalist publications, I still consider myself, at least to some extent, a modern minimalist.
I don’t talk about it on the street. I don’t share it on social media. And you won’t see me videotaping my apartment to show you how less I have. But I do wear the same set of clothes and I keep my apartment clutter-free.
So, I thought that it will be useful for some folks to read the short version of my minimalism story. To share why I decided to ditch my collection of shirts, wear only black clothes, and stop obsessing about acquiring more.
Introduction to Minimalism
I was first introduced to this concept – minimalism – by the fellow black t-shirts wearers, The Minimalists. These guys have been sharing their living-with-less tips since 2009 – I think. However, when I first saw them talking about throwing all of your possessions and wearing the same set of clothes for the rest of your life I thought, “These guys are crazy. Why the hell will someone want to live with less. Aren’t we supposed to want more things?” Of course, this was during the period where I was still in a relationship with goods. I wasn’t ready to grasp their teachings since I was still on the wave of consumerism.
It took me years to realize why Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus were so obsessed with the less mantra. Having less is good. It saves you money, gives you more freedom, clarity and it allows you to focus your time on the things that really matter. However, I didn’t know that yet when I first saw the perfectly combed hair of Joshua Fields. He was a crazy person to me back then.
But my views changed a few years later.
The second time I come across the concept of minimalism was when Matt D’Avella was just starting his career on YouTube. If you’re into this lifestyle, I’m sure you’ve seen at least one of his videos. Back then – I think it was 2017 – he mostly shared behind the scenes videos of The Minimalists Documentary.
This time I was ready to make the move.
Why I Needed Minimalism In My Life?
My parents taught me a lot of things but failed to give me a higher purpose, so to speak. So, I accepted the one that everyone has – to get a job and to spend money on acquiring more goods.
26 years I believed that one should simply work and get stuff. But once I got a nice job, a car, an apartment, I didn’t feel complete. So, I started getting even more things. More clothes. More expensive gadgets. More books. It felt good at first, but quickly the excitement wore off. Instead of feeling rich by the fact that I can afford more than the average person, I felt surrounded, suffocated by stuff. “Probably there’s something wrong with me,” I thought. A lot of folks clearly enjoyed this lifestyle but once I seemingly had it all, I didn’t felt like actually had it all.
So, I started asking myself questions I’ve never asked myself before: “What’s the whole point of this? I have everything I ever wanted, why the hell I’m still not satisfied?” By this moment it was obvious that getting even more things was not the answer. I had to do something else.
These questions led to observations. I began to think more about how I spend my days and what thoughts circled my mind. It turned out that during the majority of the time I thought about stuff: what new stuff to buy and what stuff to wear. Instead of enjoying my life, doing something that can potentially help others, I was wondering what new shirt to buy. Outrageous!
At that moment I realized that I needed a drastic change in my life and find purpose different than getting more things in my life. Thankfully, I already knew about minimalism.
First Steps Into Minimalism
The more I read about minimalism, the more I realized that this concept, which is getting to an almost religious status now, is the right one for me.
Basically, this lifestyle promotes the idea that goods are not important in life. That they are just a means to an end. Secondary. Аn obstacle to the important things in life. Minimalism explains why we shouldn’t spend a lot of time thinking about stuff and instead get enough and focus the majority of our time doing more noble stuff – like working on projects that can be helpful for society.
My journey officially started by reading “how to become a minimalist” posts. Yes, that’s right. I simply googled ways to become a minimalist and I started following the most famous preachers out there.
Once I got the main idea, I slowly started tossing things I no longer needed. It felt really strange at first. I was emotionally attached to most of my possessions so I had to overcome my internal struggle before throwing something in the garbage can.
The hardest part was cleaning my wardrobe. In my previous life, I wore shirts and blazers and I loved them. But since my new mantra was against colors different than black, I had to donate or recycle the clothes I had and buy only black plain t-shirts.
My first thoughts were, “Wear only black clothes? What will people think?” Still, I decided to give it a try. I’ve purchased 5 identical black t-shirts and I started wearing only them.
Strangely to me back then, no one noticed. Yep, it turns out that people don’t really pay attention to other folks. I’ve been wearing the same set of clothes for nearly two years now and most of my friends still don’t know that I wear only black clothes. Not that they should know or care, but what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t give a damn about what others think about you because people don’t really care about you. I’m sorry if that shatters your illusions about your relationship with others, but that’s how life is. People simply think about themselves.
Main Benefits of The Minimalism Lifestyle
Only after a couple of weeks into the minimalism lifestyle, I started seeing the gains. I no longer thought about what to wear. Since my wardrobe was now composed of all of the same clothes, I simply picked one of the identical t-shirts and I went my way. But not only that, my workspace, apartment, and also my mind were all clearer. I no longer troubled my head with thoughts about what new thing to get and how to look cooler in front of others because I didn’t really care.
But there are even more perks about living with less.
Personally, I find these three advantages of minimalism to be the most beneficial:
More money: Since I’m no longer trying to compete with fashion stylists, nor I see a point in getting the most expensive car out there, I save a lot of cash by simply purchasing less stuff. I now only get things that are essential for my survival. I have a practical, not a stylish car. I wear the same clothes which basically means that I buy new ones only when I really need to. But don’t get me wrong, I’m still an irrational human being and I still spend money on stupid stuff every now and then. My biggest expense is probably tech. I love gadgets and sometimes I just can’t resist the temptation of owning something with buttons. For example, I have 5 different types of headphones.
More time: What do you do when you want to buy something new? You start to compare products online. You watch reviews, you read the comments, you ask friends and relatives of their opinion before you hit the buy button, and for what? To find yourself doing the same exact thing after just a couple of days? When you don’t think about buying new things you have more time to work on something more meaningful. I know that buying stuff feels good but building something is way better. There’s nothing better than seeing how a project of yours evolves.
Better focus: Everyone around us is pushing us towards getting new stuff. When you open your favorite social media channel you see people sharing photos of their vacations and you immediately start to think about your next Instagram story. At least that’s what I previously caught myself doing. A simple social media check can waste a whole week of comparing plane tickets and searching for the best hotel. But if you’re careless of how others spend their time, and if you feel fine with what you have, you’ll have more clarity. Your mind will have time to think about other, more important things.
There are other benefits but the above three are the ones I find most beneficial.
What about the downsides?
There’s one: there are not many people doing it. Most folks are obsessed with status and signaling wealth. They talk all the time about getting new cars, more clothes, and going on vacations. Locally, it’s really hard to find someone who shares your worldviews and unfortunately, you’re somehow forced to hold your opinion and keep your lifestyle a secret. Not that I don’t share my views if someone asks me, but I don’t talk a lot about it because people don’t really get it.
Most of my peers don’t believe what I believe and that’s totally fine. Still, it would be nice to have more people realize the potential gains of this lifestyle so we can finally start talking about more important things – not just what new stuff to buy.
That’s one of the reasons I love the online world. You can find so many likeminded folks who share your views and have a decent conversation with them.
That’s the short version of my minimalism story. Probably I’ll write more on the subject in the future. If you’re interested in reading more about minimalism, get in touch and tell me what you want to know.
I’ll end this post with three of my favorite quotes from the book that’s probably more about minimalism than anything else out there, Fight Club:
“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.” Chuck Palahniuk