I saw a post on reddit that was along the lines of someone was struggling with minimalism because they felt like since taking up the lifestyle they were more stressed about material things and constantly focused on trying not to have unnecessary stuff. In particular they highlighted how Christmas had become difficult for them as they were anxious about how people might give them gifts of things they don’t need and what they would do about that etc.
This is a very sorry state to be in and probably not one that would be an issue for everyone, but definitely an example when a way of looking at minimalism is not conducive for a happy life and freedom.
This had me thinking about how obsessive many people within the minimalist movement can be. For some getting possessions down to a certain number of items is felt as an achievement and some post pictures of their newly decluttered homes possibly hoping for approval from others within the minimalist community. Others obsess about making sure that the few items they have in their possessions are just ‘perfect’ spending a lot of time researching them or are always on the hunt for something better to replace what they have.
In these situations people are not going to feel the freedom that we are told is the result of a minimalist lifestyle and the reason most people probably started out on the journey to begin with.
If it is freedom that you want, then minimalism needs to be viewed more as a tool than as a lifestyle. It is a tool that can be used to initially rid yourself of the excesses that are weighing you down and there will certainly be an amount of focus (and probably enthusiasm) that will be required in the beginning in this stage. But after this is done it is necessary to move on to focusing on the things you really want from life that you were hoping you’d have more time and freedom to do without being weighed down by too many possessions/debt/property that needs maintenance.
This is when you need to start self-identifying as other things (as well) such as someone that writes (if that is your passion), someone that travels etc. You get the idea. Focus on the passions and non-materialistic things that make you happy not minimalism (unless your passion is to philosophise on the meaning of minimalism hahah. oh the irony!).
Now this might seem in stark contrast to a previous post where said i like the label of minimalist as it helped me stay on track. In part this is because i’ve done some more reflection since that last post and are now seeing a bigger picture. But i also still like the label of minimalist not as something to obsess on too much in my day to day, but instead as a way explaining to people quickly why I do not want to participate in their tupperware party or would prefer if they do not bring presents to my son’s birthday (if they do so be it, he enjoys them and it makes up for the fact we only give him experiences ourselves as gifts).