Friday, March 19, 2010

Maximum Minimalism

It is difficult to observe people who live lavishly, with fancy cars, expensive clothes & accessories, luxurious homes and exotic vacations, and then make the decision to live minimally. Yet, it is the very opulence of these excessive lifestyles that should provide you with the impetus to reject those monuments to self-indulgence.
One of the very first steps that I outlined in my 15 Steps to Becoming a Minimalist was the need to identify. That process involves more than the need to identify whether or not you are suited to the minimalist lifestyle. It involves, among other things, identifying what you want out of life, what is important to you, what you will need to give up, what you hope to achieve, what you expect out of this change in direction.
It is commonly assumed that those that seek to acquire things (including money) are seeking to acquire comfort. That may be far-removed from reality. For some, the need to acquire is the need to feel safe from lack or want. For some, it may be that they are looking for social approval and status. For some, it may be that they are uncomfortable with any sort of deprivation. For a few, it may be nothing more than the greed – the need to obtain -- at the expense of others. The reasons are varied and diverse.
Similarly, the reasons for the urge to embrace a minimalist lifestyle are far-ranging.
The most common reason for adopting a minimalist way of life is found in the “fox and the sour grapes” fable. What you cannot reach, the fable implies, you are likely to scorn as something not worth having. Hence, many people (students & youths, for example) reject material possessions, largely because they cannot see the wherewithal to obtain those very examples of “arrival.”
I have met many aspiring “lean & green” disciples who cite the need to be socially responsible as their justification for their new lifestyle. At the same time, a great many seem to want to self-flagellate, punishing themselves for perceived greed. Others subscribe to a political philosophy that requires that they share everything, and aspire for nothing. Still others, in an effort to rationalize indolence, declare that reaching for such mundane goals is beneath them.
Minimalism is nothing of the sort described to this point. It is a choice of living in a specific manner that embraces wealth of a different sort – an opulence that recognizes the value in alternative ways of viewing self-indulgence. As a minimalist of many years, I am convinced that I have far greater wealth from choosing my way of engaging life than I had when I owned a multi-million dollar business, and owned a hoard of physical assets.
I look forward to assisting you in identifying how you, too, can be wealthy by being poor, and how divesting yourself of everything can make you rich. I look forward to helping you living your minimal lifestyle to the maximum!

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