By SEZİN BAL
How can a person be happy if s/he thinks what to wear every day or cleans the house for hours all because of the unnecessary items? The minimalist philosophy eliminates all un-required items and enables people to focus on what they really need in their lives. These unnecessary items include not only the material belongings but also thoughts, relationships, and even technology. Therefore, the minimalist lifestyle is a plain, but not a straightforward life philosophy. Notably, in the 21st-century, the capitalist economic system is consumption-oriented and imposes the ideology on people that they will be happy as long as they purchase. Moreover, the system facilitates purchasing by using social media, television, and one-click shopping. Nevertheless, although the capitalist economic system constantly triggers people to purchase in order to be happy, people should prefer the minimalist philosophy for a happier and a more independent life.
First of all, the minimalist, who is aware of the dispensable things, creates a chance of a happier life with by being able to distinguish the significant from the unnecessary with awareness. However, it is quite challenging to achieve this state of mindfulness in the 21st-century because one of the fundamental criteria of this era is consumption. All the advertisements around people claim that the more they consume, the happier they will be. The traditional perception against minimalism is that it does not assist happiness and it is a new trend of marketing. This argument is claimed by the capitalist economic system and it does not reflect the truth. On the contrary, there is not any link between consumption and happiness. A 2020 study of how to be happier by consuming less, psychologists Elizabeth Dunn and Jiaying Zhao of the University of British Columbia, shows that “people take great pleasure in assuming the things they would enjoy even before consuming them and anticipation is hedonic.” The study claims that “if people give some thought to how to decline consumption, it may increase their well-being because declining the frequency of consuming is a win-win situation also reducing the number of choices people make every day releases stress, provides free time, and mental energy” (Dunn and, Zhao). The feeling that people have adequate time for crucial things in their lives benefits their happiness. The minimalist also will apply this reduction for insignificant thoughts, toxic relationships, and technological applications. Once this realization achieved, the minimalist will not spend extra time on anything that does not serve the priorities.
Secondly, the minimalist philosophy assists people to set their priorities and thus ensures a more independent life. The minimalist knows that diminished consumption does not mean diminished pleasure in life. In contrast, a more independent life is provided with a variety of free choices and mindfulness. In the 21st-century mass consumption society, people are enforced which house or car to buy, where to go for a meal or for holiday under social pressure. It is not difficult to eliminate these imposed thoughts because the minimalist has already revised the requirements and the priorities. The minimalist philosophy also ensures financial independence by the rejection of mass consumption. A person who is aware of the real needs will not spend money on something just because it is cheap or discounted. Furthermore, the minimalists do not spend their precious time purchasing something that they would not utilize. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists identify five steps for financial independence. The first step is that there should be a written and monthly budget to detect expenditures and plan the future. Secondly, people should do investment according to their income to guarantee their retirement lives. The third step is that people should have detailed plans for debts because debts enslave people and it is not possible to be independent until people rich a debt-free life. The fourth step is clarifying the clutter from our lives, so we will be able to eliminate debts and shift the habits. Finally, the last step is contribution. Appreciating what we already have is the shortest way toward independence. They claim that people should commit their valuable time to homeless people, poverty-stricken children, or elderly ones. Thus, we will recognize the smallness of our financial worries and feel independence by serving something bigger than us.
As we have seen, the more we consume, the more we consume our independence and our happiness. The important point is that people should be aware that they are being manipulated because the capitalist economic system will continue to convince the people to purchase in order to have a happy life, but to have a happier and a more independent life we should adopt the minimalist philosophy in our lives.
Dunn, Elizabeth, and Jiaying Zhao. “How to Be Happier by Consuming Less | CBC Life.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 28 Jan. 2020, http://www.cbc.ca/life/wellness/how-to-be-happier-by-consuming-less-1.5443495.
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, Joshua Fields, and Ryan Nicodemus. “Financial Freedom: 5 Difficult Steps to Get Out of Debt, Create a Simple Budget, Plan for the Future, and Regain Control of Your Finances.” The Minimalists, The Minimalists, 21 Oct. 2020, http://www.theminimalists.com/freedom/.