Minimalism is a process
Minimalism makes room in our lives for more of the parts of life that matter: hobbies, relationships, experiences. But minimalism isn't something to ultimately achieve and then stop as though it's complete. There is no contest to see who does minimalism the best (at least, there never should be). There are as many versions of minimalism as there are practitioners or followers.
And because minimalism is so variable and personal, I can't stress this enough: Minimalism is a process. It's an ongoing, mindful, and honest effort to remove clutter from life. It can silence the constant and seemingly inescapable piercing whistle of anxiety or the static buzz of feeling overworked. For my fellow Millennials and my Xennial and Zoomer compatriots, putting an end to anxiety and exhaustion is something we all chase but don't necessarily know how to achieve. Even achieving anything requires maintenance to uphold the achievement. But with minimalism, I never want the thought of the minimalist process to feel daunting.
The process of minimalism should be a process of introspection, honesty with the self, and finding joy. When we experience a moment of joy we never want it to end, right? Staying joyful is a process. Being honest with yourself is a process. And likewise, minimalism is a process.
Okay, so what are the steps of the minimalist process?
I have no interest in dictating which steps to take to achieve minimalism. Nothing I write is a rule, but all of what I write comes from personal experience that I hope resonates with others. For me, the process of minimalism is fairly simple:
- Frequent assessments of where I am and where I want to be next
- Honest internal critique of my belongings and my material wants
- Check-ins with my needs physically, mentally, and emotionally
- Analysis of my activities and the time they fill
- Inspection and joy-checking of my interpersonal relationships
- Discarding any thing, any activity or experience, and anyone that gets in the way of where I want to be
There is a lot of liberation and power to be felt when embracing minimalism as a process of seeking joy and decluttering life of the negative objects and forces that try to hinder or suppress joy.
How do I know that minimalism is a process? I live it. Other minimalists live it. The process of living life comes with no shortage of introductions of messes, frustrations, personal changes, and so on. Even as minimalists, we will always have things coming in and out of our lives, whether they're single-use and consumable like meals and wine, or durable and lasting like books and other people. The constant flowing-in of new things and people should not be a cause for stress for minimalists (whether newbie or "pro").
Finding balance, finding joy, and practicing minimalism are all processes. We can tailor every step and every facet of minimalism to our own needs--nothing about minimalism is set in stone or absolute. Just like making life better never ends, neither does the effort of being a minimalist... and because minimalism can bring us joy and give us back time, it's a process that can be worth more than anything we could ever discard.