Minimalism or Deprivation?

When I first became aware of minimalism, I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant. I was aware of minimalist art, and minimalist architecture. But a minimalist lifestyle?It’s easy to go straight to the stereotype of wearing black and having nothing but a single chair in an empty room with a monochrome colour palette, blank walls, starkness, and that feeling of sterile hospital grade cleanliness. But as I spent time researching and learning from others who had already adopted a minimalist lifestyle, it seemed every one had their own definition of what it was, and they adapted it according to their unique needs and goals. The one thing they all had in common, was they all had a clear sense of why they felt they needed to make changes in their lives.So I figured if I was to focus on the why instead of the what, then I should end up with a clear vision of how a minimalist lifestyle would apply in my life.I made a list of things I needed to change:

  • I was feeling suffocated by stuff
  • Keeping myself healthy was complicated
  • I felt isolated from all of my friends
  • I felt obligated to my family
  • My finances were a mess
  • I felt my life had no balance
  • I had lost my sense of calm and joy
  • I was feeling overwhelmed in general
  • I lost interest in my hobbies and passions
  • I was lacking purpose and direction.

There were several iterations of this list, but the same two themes kept coming to mind. Soulful. Simple. And Soul Simple was born.After sitting with this for a while, I worked out an action plan:

  • SOUL
    • Identify my values and beliefs
      Cultivate at least one passion
      Find a spiritual connection
      Make time for mindfulness / meditation
      Schedule alone time for peace & quiet
      Set some goals or personal challenges
      Write in my daily gratitude journal
      Give – make a meaningful contribution.


    • Reduce excess material items
    • Focus on a simple, healthy eating plan
    • Cultivate a few meaningful friendships
    • Reduce or share commitments to family
    • Prioritise paying down debt
    • Set a reasonable budget for expenses
    • Replace gym membership with walk / yoga
    • Say No to commitments from time to time.

    Applying minimalism in this context seemed so much easier. As soon as I identified my values and beliefs I was able to align the other actions to these which made focusing my mind and allocating resources so much easier.As I began putting my plan into action, I realised that minimalism was so much more than the stereotype. A part of me was expecting to feel deprived and empty. But as I pushed through the initial discomfort, I started to feel an overwhelming sense of prosperity and contentment.For the first time in my life I felt completely certain that I had everything I needed. If anything, we were depriving ourselves of everything that was good and purposeful before we began our minimalist journey. So in a way, minimalism has set us free.Even though we are still managing a mortgage and normal everyday expenses, we seemed to be able to save more money – despite both of us minimising our careers and taking lower paying jobs closer to home.In a very short time, I had so much more:

    • Time
    • Energy
    • Space
    • Happiness
    • Contentment
    • Joy
    • Positivity
  • I even lost a couple of kilos! (Woohoo!)
  • And so the journey continues. We still have a lot to work on, before we will consider ourselves ‘finished’, but having that strong sense of purpose and being clear on the why has opened up so much more than we ever expected.
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