It's all the rage right now. Or at least I'm hearing about it more lately in the circles I run in.
And I think it's a great concept. I began to wonder, though, the fine line between minimalism and a scarcity mindset--because I think there's some potential there.
My Buddhist practice teaches me not to think in absolutes, but instead to find the Middle Way with anything and everything. And OH MY GOSH does it help with so many things. All the things, in fact.
So, when thinking about minimalism as a lifestyle practice or identity you can consider the aspects that work and the point at which it begins to not work. Here's how I came to think about it for myself.
I recently moved into a new and amazing and TINY apartment. I found this hidden gem studio in the middle of a great neighborhood in Somerville and I jumped at the opportunity. It's basically a tiny house within a house. To be able to move into that space, I had to consider two contrasting perspectives:
- it would be an increase in living expenses to live alone
- I had to significantly downsize all my worldly possessions
Moving into this space required me to test out my own issues around scarcity mindset (related to the cost of living alone in a city with a high cost of living) AND minimalism in one fell swoop. And it was an incredibly challenging and awesome experience. Since I had a month and a half to prepare, I painstakingly went through almost every nook, cranny, gadget, gizmo, letter, picture, book, etc. that I owned and weighed its value in my life.
Did it make the cut or nah?
I'm talking pictures from when I was five and my high school yearbook and letters from my love interests from 20 years ago. And then I had to consider my 36" television and speaker setup----one of the things I loved most in the world. The hard truth was, they just would not fit in the new space so I had to either sell or donate them. I looked at the days remaining in the month and weighed the work of posting ads to sell things to make money (scarcity mindset) versus giving away (minimalism and abundance).
I can't say how or why it suddenly became effortless to just give everything away.
I CAN say how and why I chose to prioritize my resources on living alone after almost 10 years of living environments that didn't work for me. My mental health depended on it. All the scrimping and saving and coming from, "I don't have enough _____________" was bleeding out into my whole life.
"I don't have enough money" also showed up as I don't have enough time, love, support, balance, energy, focus, memory, integrity, etc.
Minimalism is awesome. It really shows us what is important--it allows us to release attachment to materialism or possessions that block our emotional freedom and peace. But it, like anything out of balance, can also be a way for us to deprive ourselves of things we need in name of being frugal. And that becomes scarcity mindset. And it begins as coupon clipping but can also show up as not reaching out to friends when you need help or overworking or perfectionism. If there's not enough for you to have, there's also not enough for you to give----and VICE VERSA--and it keeps repeating back and around on itself.
Tell me if you're with me?
Next time you find yourself making a decision from a well-intentioned place of minimalism, ask yourself if you're really scaling back from intentional choice or from conditioned behavior of scarcity mindset coming from deep-seated feelings of your value and worth.
See what you discover and reach out to tell me. I'll be sipping coffee in my tiny house while not watching tv.