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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Why minimalism???

Even if I have been working on this for years, I still get asked why I became a minimalist...  my answers are most always the same...  and I will write them again here today...  but because I am reading "The Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz, I am even more convince that going minimalist can make you happier!

I became minimalist because I couldn't breathe... I was suffocating with all my stuff.  Stuff you think you own, actually owns you right back! A lot more then you may think or realise. Less stuff means more "air" or "space" in your home and in your head.... less worry about "loosing" that stuff to a thief or a fire... less worrying about time required for cleaning/maintenance...

I became minimalist because I had no time...  to many things to do, stuff to clean, people to see, activities to attends, hours to work... always more and more.... because more is better right?  I beg to differ... I cleaned my agenda to keep only thing that mattered to me... I got rid of stuff so that I don't have to dust/clean/maintain it regularly... I cleaned up my friends list because relationship do require time and if you do not have enough time to invest, the friendship becomes superficial/meaningless really fast...  I cleaned up my "to do" list because really, who needs to do all that??? I decreased the number of hours worked because I needed time for "ME" and we all do need that time...

I became a minimalist because I didn't have money.... Between my husband and I we had quite a decent income but we owed just as much as we made in a year...  over time, we have decrease our family income by 100k and what we owe by a little more then that...  and we are close to being debt free. We had less money then we have now because there was always something else to buy, somewhere else to go, another gift to buy...

All in all, we work less at jobs we love...  we make less money but have less debt...  we have more discretionary money for the things we truly care about... we have less but deeper relationships with people we care about and that care about us...  we buy less things but visit more places because we care more about the experience and the being then about the having...

Now where does "The Paradox of Choice" comes into that?  Well, Schwartz clearly state that he is, in no way, a minimalist... and does not prone such a behavior... however, according to his theory and many psychological studies reported in this book, there are 2 kinds of people:  satisficer and maximizer:  quite simply satificer are OK with good enough whereas maximizer want the best of everything.  In itself, one or another is not better...  but over time, with the increasing amount of choices of everything we have, it has been proven that satificers are generally happier people then maximizers...

Now a satificer will not spends days or months to make a decision about where to go on vacation, what car to buy or sweater to get... it doesn't have to be The Best...  Satisficer make decision according to specific criteria... and hence already have more limited options then maximizer.

I am a satisficer... I have very specific criteria for most of my things/activities/ places to visit/restaurant to eat at...  etc...

Being vegan limit the amount of food I can get from the grocery store...  limits the restaurants I can eat in and most of the time limits the choice available to me in most restaurants to 1 or 2... I do not need to spend hours at the grocery store...  and I definitely do not need to take hours to pick a restaurant when there are 3-4 choices and they all offer quite different menus. As long as it is vegan, it is good enough for me... I do not drink alcohol, coffee or sodas... so even beverages are easier to choose...

Being a minimalist, limits my choices in everything else.... I wish not to own a house or a car...  I do not shop for furniture...  or electronics unless something is broken and then, the only criteria is what can do exactly what I need and not more at the best price... For clothes, I have a personal style and stick to really 3 regular stores and 2 more "funky" ones...  I only buy when I need and I don't go to all the stores...  I don't buy very many books/CD/DVD/Bluerays...  if any... when I do get the occasional books they are on specific subjects that I care about... and when I go to visit a place, I always rent the same car and if I need a hotel get the closest one to the things I want to do to not use the car as much...  I pick what I want to visit when I find something I like - I do not spend hours searching on the internet/reading reviews or comments... 

Now it may seems like I am missing out on many things... but quite frankly I do not know it...  because I do not have a television, I do not buy magazines, I do not read the newspaper or listen to the radio... I do not surf the net except for specific information I want to find...  according to Schwartz, not having as many options, make being a satisficer easier and in turns makes me happier then someone who would actually know all the options available! Not having many options make taking decisions easier...  and I am not scare of choosing because there are not many chances I can make the wrong decision... when you look into every single option, you start getting worried about making a decision because your odds of taking the "wrong" decision are higher.... hence more chances of regretting your decision and then you are less likely to even want to make a decision or a choice!

In summary, Schwartz says that less choice = less options = less chances of making a mistake = more decision making in less time = less regrets = more satisfaction from your choice = happier person!

Being a minimalist "forces" you into being happy... 

It may sound naive... simple...  and it may look like you are "giving up" many options but really, once you are into it, you no longer see or realise the options you are missing out on because you have specific criteria you are looking for, knows what you want and won't be influenced into something you do not like/need/care for...

AND you are HAPPIER!!!  MUCH HAPPIER!!!

love&peace,
nath
xox
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