Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Minimal Living Provides Opportunity To Spread Wealth

If minimalism or voluntary simplicity is about living with less, then the obvious corollary to the concept of minimal living is that such a frugal lifestyle will open up a surfeit of resources for other uses. I have discussed in many of my other articles that my minimalistic focus is toward enjoying the newly filtered aspects of life more thoroughly by de-cluttering my environment.
However, I have no desire to relinquish the pleasure that I gain from productive work. Thus, while I free up time to enjoy more targeted pleasures by eliminating redundancies and excesses, I also free up money.
Therein is one of the real bonuses of simple living: the ability to use surplus income for purposes that I find worthy; namely, a variety of charitable causes.
For instance, I have revived a cooperative housing project initiative that will enable those people who may not be able, otherwise, to afford home ownership, to engage in a strategy to purchase their individual homes through a group buying initiative. With my surplus free time and, fortunately, surplus income due to my frugal living approach, I am able to give back in areas of my own choosing.
Perhaps many aspiring minimalists are undertaking this new lifestyle because of budget constraints, or environmental concerns, or simply because of social conscience. Regardless, the new freedom that one discovers as priorities are rearranged to suit the minimalistic approach allow for more freedom to be charitable. It is often an unexpected frill that flowers from one’s new lifestyle.
Psychologists almost universally agree that a great contributor to unhealthy stress is the lack of choice. By freeing resources, by being less reliant on material success or need, a person is afforded a greater freedom to choose what is important individually. It is true, however, that when a person chooses to “ cut to the bone” on luxuries, and cuts the reserves that provide a “soft cushion” in times of financial hardship, a degree of stress results. The stress of facing a short-term bout of belt tightening on a frugal budget is far from the stress, though, than the stress of financial crisis when one is burdened with enormous monthly expenses. By trimming overhead, you open the door for more choices.
It is ironic that the greatest contributors to charities, per dollar earned, and the greatest number of volunteer hours committed are given by those people who live in more modest communities, states or provinces, and that those most likely to give in a crisis are those that have experienced a crisis of their own.
By entering the world of modest living through voluntary simplicity, a person almost automatically is drawn toward charity, volunteerism and community service, and, in turn, reaps the enormous benefit of reaching out to others.
As you contemplate your foray into minimal living, you may want to set out a template, or set of objectives, and include in that template the anticipated or sought-after benefits (as well as drawbacks). Work into your new budget an allowance for both time and money given to those in need, and establish that allowance as a priority. Simply by laying out, concretely and publicly, your intention to use your newly discovered freedom to benefit others, you will discover that your focus on what is significant in life alters dramatically. Again, it is an established psychological principle that, when a person publicly commits, even in a modest way, to a position or goal, he more adamantly defends and works toward that position in the future. Think, for example, of Weight Watchers or AAA meetings, where a public statement of commitment is used to drive dedication to an objective.
Consider that, as you gain freedom from stress and financial or material dependence for yourself, you also are opening the door for a more altruistic you. Go minimal, but give it your maximum effort!

No comments:

Post a Comment