I just deleted my whole Quick Thought about Black Friday, Cyber Monday and sales. (I’m actually not against them though I don’t exactly participate.)
My thoughts on minimalism have changed massively since writing Luxury of Less 2+ years ago (original release was October 2010!). I was a bit embarrassed when I last read it. Actually, if it wasn’t for the e-mails I get from new readers I would stop selling it. But if it helps people that’s more important than my silly embarrassment. (To clarify: I’m still fully on board with most of the ideas, but the way I presented them was lackluster.)
I’ve been looking at life more often as a big experiment. To keep myself in check I ask myself, “What if I’m wrong about X?”
“What if veganism really isn’t the healthiest diet?” (My first reason for a veg*n diet is compassion for animals, but health is also important.) It’s tough to find the truth, but we know that veggies are generally the best products we can put in our bodies. We also know that eating lots of meat is unhealthy. I’ve ragged on the Paleo Diet a lot, but if it has one thing going for it it’s that it focuses on something like 90% veggies and essentially no refined carbs (except cheat days). (I think the name and comparison to people who lived so long ago is silly and terribly misguided.)
To get back on topic, a good question to ask is, “What if I’m wrong about minimalism?” What if we actually need stuff? Should I fill my life with DVDs and general stuff again? Should I buy more gadgets than I’d use? Do I need more stuff to be happier?
The answer is no. An overabundance of stuff is unhealthy. A cluttered life is a cluttered mind. A cluttered mind breeds lack of focus. Lack of focus is stressful. Stress kills.
But I’ve bought stuff while here in Poland that I wouldn’t have bought previously due to my “minimalism.” I’ve bought a blender, a humidifier, a guitar, and 6 board games.
I use the blender at least 4 times per week. I originally only planned on staying in Poland for 4 months, but a cost/benefit analysis of buying a blender vs buying smoothies came out on top for buying even for such a short period of time. Buying 4+ smoothies per week isn’t cheap and I don’t get to control the ingredients. (My go-to smoothie lately: 1 bag of greens, 2 bananas, cup of plant milk, cup of water, flax oil, green beans, almond butter, other random fruits, and an avocado when it’s ripe! This makes 2 “meals” which I consume 2-3 hours apart.)
I use the humidifier often. Indoor winter air is dry and I already have dry sensitive skin. I don’t use this every day (too much moisture isn’t great either), but when I had a chest infection recently I used it non stop for a few days. Is it absolutely necessary? Definitely not. Does it improve my life? Definitely yes.
I play the guitar every day and I’m stressed if I don’t have one. Thinking about buying an electric guitar and amp because I miss playing loud and fast.
The board games are probably the most “non-minimalist” purchases. But I play them about once/week with a group of friends at various cafes around town as well as regularly at home. Games I have: Cards Against Humanity (has Creative Commons license so I printed it myself), Backpacker, Jenga, Mistrz Słowa (to help with Polish language), Geniusz (aka Ingenious), and Checkers. Are all of these games necessary? Probably not. Do they get used? Yes. (Jenga, Cards Against Humanity and Backpacker get the most use.)
Is this stuff “minimalist”? Not by a traditional definition. But my definition of minimalism is: buy what you need to live a happy life and nothing more. In other words don’t be wasteful. Minimalism isn’t about stuff. It’s more about mindset.
Point is: don’t be wasteful, but don’t think you’re not a minimalist (if that’s your bag) just because you own and buy things.
Extra note: Buying stuff on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, et al. is smart if it’s stuff you were going to buy anyway. I think other “minimalists” miss this point.