In and effort to simplify our lives and remove the clutter that is stressing us out, is it possible that we can take minimalism too far? Could there be a dangerous side of minimalism?
When I came back fresh from having backpacked South-East Asia and ready to change careers, I decided that following my interest in health and fitness would be a good start.
I became a certified personal trainer and soon started training clients privately as well as in small groups.
And while I’ve since pivoted directions again to focus on self-improvement, there were a few key things I learnt from personal training about the way people think and behave.
One of the most common is the belief that if something is good for us, more of it must be better, right?
Think about it…
Smoothies are great, so drinking all our calories must be better, right? Wrong.
Sleep is great (so, so great), so sleeping 12 hours must be better, right? Wrong again.
And exercise is great, so training 6 or 7 days a week for 2 hours must be even better, right? Very, very wrong.
(Hands up if you’re guilty of that last one).
Yet these are all things I saw or heard while working in the gym.
So what the hell does this have to do with minimalism?
Well, I think there’s there a very big risk of falling into the same trap when we’re removing stuff from our lives that no one speaks about.
I experienced this myself when I started packing all my belongings in a carry-on bag while preparing to move across the world to run away from my problems.
Here’s what I mean.
In the initial stages of simplifying and decluttering, the decision whether to keep something or not is pretty easy. But once we reach a certain point, it can start to become a bit of an addiction as we obsess over what else we can eliminate.
Remember, minimalism is about removing anything that doesn’t add value to our lives; nothing more and nothing less.
In my own experience, I started getting a ‘hit’ out of removing “just one more thing”. I was always looking for more. As I write this, it would appear as if I became addicted to minimalism.
In removing my attachment to stuff, I became attached to not having stuff.
This is arguably just as unhealthy. Attachment is attachment, regardless of the thing itself.
And then there’s another piece to this puzzle that I feel is worth mentioning.
After we’ve removed all these things (perhaps too many), we can easily set ourselves up for a feeling of lack or scarcity. We look around our empty spaces and feel as if we’re just holding on, even if that’s not the case.
So how do we find a balance between decluttering and taking things too far?
It comes down to the idea that your minimalism will look different to my minimalism. While it can be inspiring to scroll through our Instagram news feeds and see all these pictures of beautifully simple spaces, the truth is that our unique circumstances are different.
Perhaps we need a car, a laptop and some toys for our dog/kid. Or perhaps we don’t.
The moral of the story is that we need to get fully present, ask ourselves: “Does this add value?” and then remove the feelings of comparison and ideas of what minimalism “should” look like.
Less is more. But more isn’t always better.
OVER TO YOU…
I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you experienced something similar where too much of a good thing became unhealthy? Shoot me a tweet with your biggest takeaways to @BryanTeare.
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