Minimalism and the Gift of Experience
Author: Shoshana Belisle, MSW, MA, RYT, Namaste Wellness Advisor
As we approach the holiday season, take a moment to imagine what it would be like to skip the chaos of holiday shopping this year. What if you redirected your precious time and attention instead toward creating meaningful experience with your loved ones?
By any chance, do you feel even a slight bit of relief?
And what if your family and friends didn’t buy you more things destined to inevitably clutter up your home but found a way to love and support you in a personally meaningful way?
Is there a burden lifted as well?
If you’re like most people in our culture, you likely have far more stuff than you actually need. In fact, our culture of American consumerism has led the average citizen to accumulate more material goods than ever before in the history of civilization. This experience of too much stuff creates a tremendous amount of stress in our lives. Excess stuff costs us money (of course), time, energy, attention, space, and most importantly, peace of mind. In fact, it is highly likely that too much stuff may standing between you and your ideal life.
When we chase after material possessions, we think we are chasing happiness. But what if the opposite were true? What if more stuff makes us stressed and unhappy? It could be that more stuff is the obstacle to having what we truly want: love, connection, peace, joy, health, happiness, and wellbeing.
This may be why the concept of “minimalism” has grown so much in popularity. Minimalism is a lifestyle based on an ideal that owning fewer things helps you live more happily. You have likely heard Marie Kondo’s famous questions, “Does this spark joy?” extracted and quoted often from her popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in which she encourages readers to purge belonging that don’t add clear meaning and joy to their lives. Many other minimalist thought leaders point to the transformative power of releasing excess stuff. For example, successful tech entrepreneur Graham Hill published a wildly popular piece in the New York Times in 2013 called “Living with Less, A Lot Less” in which he described his journey from excess to minimalism and the freedom he discovered along the way.
Decluttering has been said to boost our overall health. Getting rid of stuff helps us to lower stress and improve mood and it may even help us lose weight. According to a study conducted by researchers at UCLA which looked at the home lives of modern Americans, levels of the stress hormone cortisol soar when we are managing accumulated clutter. More specifically, a cluttered and stressful home has been linked to high cortisol levels in homemakers. Since stress is at the root of many chronic diseases, the importance of a decluttered home cannot be overlooked.
By clearing out excess belongings we relieve ourselves of huge amounts of stress, and we make more space in our lives for the things that are most meaningful to us.
Thus, minimalism isn’t about what we are giving up; it is about what we are ultimately gaining. What are those meaningful things in your life? Perhaps it’s quality time with family members and friends, or time spent enjoying hobbies, music, travel, creativity, and nature. Perhaps you want to take better care of your health or engage in wellness activities such as exercise, meditation, contemplation, or other forms of self-care. When we redirect our attention away from the acquisition, accumulation, collection, care, and organization of stuff, we can create an intentional life that truly aligns with our deepest values. We can no longer afford to let consumer culture dictate our wellbeing. We must take responsibility for our choices and act.
Owning less helps you have more money
Managing less stuff saves you time
A less cluttered home makes it easier to clean
Less stuff makes your home feel more spacious
Purging excess rids you of stress and promotes peace
Having fewer clothes makes it easier to decide what to wear
Owning less promotes contentment with what we have
Given the power of living more with less stuff, consider a new approach to gift-giving. If you want to show your love for someone, support them in living a more rewarding life with less stuff. Consider a gift of the experience of wellbeing:
A gift certificate for a restorative massage
A series of nutrition consultations or health coaching sessions so they can make impactful lifestyle changes;
Home yoga or meditation instruction for a lifestyle of less stress and more joy.
Better yet, join them in the experience!
Can you imagine how transformative these experiences could be? They don’t make clutter or add unintentional burden. They don’t take up space or distract you from what matters. Instead, they add value to life, they promote wellbeing, and best of all, they create peace.
We at Namaste are happy to help you show appreciation for your loved ones with the gift of wellness experiences. After all, this is what we do.