Minimalism has an allure about it. Those sweeping expanses of space within a home, the strange comfort of organisation, the ambitious nature of decluttering- the prospect of becoming something new. A new type of person, self-aware, conscious of making sustainable choices, looking for ways to improve and adapt. Minimalists might view themselves as a breath of fresh air, but there’s a problem.
It’s no secret that minimalists are often keen to convert others to minimalism, frequently looking for ways to explain the impact of minimalism on an otherwise basic and bland life. It’s an addictive spiral, once we’re on a roll with minimalism, we can hardly wait to dish out our new sense of understanding- that WE have found the way to live successfully. We preach our revelations of less, desperately trying to make others understand. But this act of persuasion, towards an alternative way of living, can seem entitled and off-putting, threatening, even. The problem is greater than trying to persuade a couple of work colleagues, or that friend from the gym- the issue starts to arise when we start persuading family, partners, close friends.
If we truly look back on ourselves, could anyone have persuaded US into minimalism? We might remember the many videos and books and trends which swayed us towards a more minimalistic path, but it’s likely that no one individual with a motivational speech could have pushed us into minimalism. Minimalism isn’t taught, there is no ‘right’ path, and it can’t be persuaded. Minimalism has to be chosen. It’s an ongoing lifestyle choice which requires the individual themselves to be committed to a cause.
It’s naive for us to believe that we have the power to change others habits, decisions, and ultimately their lifestyle. Sure, we can do those things, but we can also positively impact the lives of others, provide a model of someone with a successful and happy life, and allow others to make their own decisions and choose their own long-term lifestyle. When we are content with ourselves, we don’t need to change others, we can simply exist with them, encouraging the best parts of them and understanding that, ultimately, only they can make their own decisions and know what’s best for them.
When we choose to be content with ourselves, we also choose to recognise the bigger picture of life- that the decisions which work for us, may not work for others, and that’s okay. Make peace with it, have constructive conversations, and remember that minimalism has to be chosen, rather than forced.
Have you fallen into the trap of trying to persuade others into minimalism? How do you have constructive conversations about minimalism without trying to persuade people of it’s value?
Featured image: Samantha Gades via Unsplash.