If I’m going to take the time to watch a movie, it better be a good one. And not one with a depressing ending either. A storyline with struggle is welcome, but it must leave me with a glimmer of hope. I see enough disturbing realities on the news so try and reserve movie time as sacred for something funny or uplifting. Enter the documentary. Not where you thought I was going with this, eh?
I’m the first to admit I love a light-hearted Will Ferrell comedy (vs. a serious documentary) at the end of a long week. Ferrell and I apparently went to college together (although we’ve never actually met). Sadly, his new material or similar comedies aren’t released often enough to always be my go-to on movie nights. The other evening, though, that didn’t matter. The Hollywood Gods had a different plan for our home theater (um, living room couch).
While clicking through our video options, my husband and I couldn’t find anything of interest in our usual genres. It was getting late and I’m now one of those oldish people who values sleep a bit too much. Right before clicking off the TV, I saw it – a title that grabbed my attention. Minimalism: a Documentary About the Important Things (a film by Matt D’Avella). Well if it’s about the important things, it must be something I should know about, right? Game on.
The next 77 minutes of my life proceeded to be incredibly worthwhile. Let me explain how.
The documentary profiled a variety of individuals who shared how minimalism brought
more meaning into their lives and how they chose to shed what no longer served a purpose or added value (including careers!) The interesting thing was that each of these individuals had a different way of going about implementing minimalism. The stereotype in my mind had been that they’d all be selling off everything they owned, quitting their jobs, donating their income to charity and living in huts around the world while doing their role to save mankind. While very noble, not exactly my life goal. But no matter – my preconceived notions were incorrect.
The documentary made me realize that anyone can integrate minimalism into their lives – even me – on whatever scale deemed appropriate to get more out of life with less. And it turns out that I’ve already been implementing this concept in my life without realizing it.
I’ve often felt that I have “enough”. Family has always been the most important thing, along with friends who inspire me to be my best self, and health. When more income/material things came my way as I got older, I realized that it didn’t equate to becoming proportionally happier. I suppose you could say this was when I understood firsthand the concept of a satiation point, something I had heard about but never thought how it could apply to me.
According to BusinessDictionary.com, satiation is the saturation level of any activity at which its maximum benefit has already been derived and, therefore, the marginal benefit equals zero. So the more stuff I could get wasn’t going to equate to me being happier. To take that even further, I’d read here and there that getting more stuff could potentially make me unhappier! This included an article a few years ago called, “Here’s Proof Buying More Stuff Actually Makes You Miserable,” by Martha C. White, March 13, 2014 (Time.com).
Some examples of how I’ve already been applying minimalism in my life include:
- Purchasing our recent car with transportation in mind vs. brand name flash.
- Choosing to make the focus of a home remodel the upgrading of outdated materials instead of expansion (with a second story or basement) that our family would eventually outgrow.
- Buying a classic purse that will never go out of style vs. buying a new one each year as trends change.
- Starting to give “experiences” as gifts to my family like tickets to a show that will create memories instead of an item of clothing that will end up in the back of a closet.
- Using a line of healthier cleaning products that turn my home into a safer haven while eliminating the need to buy paper towels and chemicals (more on this in an upcoming blog!)
I guess you could say I have experienced that intersection in life where my basic needs are being met and the tangible things I have keep me at an ideal level of happy. It’s a pretty cool place to be. I look forward to further streamlining my minimalism ways by implementing things I learned in the documentary (e.g., sticking with clothing basics instead of trendy items that retailers know will go out of style the moment I get home, being fine with my current cell phone instead of upgrading to the newest model, etc).
So how does one go about getting more out of life with less and practicing minimalism in a way that suits them personally? After all, not everyone’s satiation point is going to be the same. Mildred from book club, for example, is on a completely different spectrum as she continues to add shelves in her garage to house her growing garden gnome collection. Let’s pray for Mildred.
A great place to start your journey would be to watch the documentary or pick up the book on which it’s based called, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life, by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. You could also read my blog called Spring Cleaning with Meaning (April 2017), which references an insightful book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I’ve found Kondo’s strategies very helpful in helping to declutter my world.
Best wishes to you all on getting more out of life! And feel free to share your minimalism tips here so we can all benefit from each other’s downsizing successes.
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