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The Trouble with Minimalism

This subject has been on my mind recently, what with all of the different movements gaining attraction in the world today. I'm talking specifically about minimalism, sustainability, zero waste, and other movements that aim to simplify and create time to make meaningful, informed decisions. It all sounds good, when you think about it. Who doesn't want more time in their day? Who doesn't, deep down, know that they need to focus their attention on maintaining relationships than maintaining their stuff.

I will admit, I watched a Netflix documentary on the subject of minimalism and I was intrigued. I went through loads of clothes, papers, and other items that I could skimp down on and "simplify."

It was when I was helping my fiance move into his apartment that I realized I might be too distracted by the movement, the cause, that it has started down the path of obsession. I found myself getting frustrated, even a little mad at Justin as I was packing up two boxes of his DVDs, thinking how could he possibly need all of them? Thinking that there is no way that he will ever play this game again, or watch this movie. I got upset with him wanting to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for his apartment, because I was thinking about the wedding registry that I had carefully created because I wanted it to be the best, most practical, "minimalist" list for our new lives together.

How unfair it was for me to get upset with someone that does not align themselves to the minimalist philosophy. I made him feel bad for valuing the things that he has accumulated over the years. He's not a packrat, there are memories infused to every one of those games, and he actually doesn't go out and buy useless things...ever. He appreciates quality over quantity and that will help us not have to keep replacing things over the years.

It wasn't fair. I had become too obsessed with being a "good" minimalist that I was somehow making my life and my thoughts more cluttered. I do think that's the danger of movements like this. People become so wrapped up in the idea that they need to be a "good" member of the group, and they feel guilty if they indulge. It's like a diet. If you're doing well on a low carb diet and you have a two-scoop ice cream cone well, you are probably going to feel guilty for the rest of the day. And why? It is not a sin to eat ice cream, just like it is not a sin to get enjoyment out of some of your things.

So why do some feel guilty about it? Well, I believe that is a combination of a couple of things. First, it's pride. We believe that we cannot possibly do wrong if all the "rules" are laid out for us, and we are going to be perfect at following this lifestyle. Secondly, I believe that the tempter is using these outlets to distract from what is really important: being lights of the world, and thinking on things above. We have the best intentions going into these self-help programs, but we cannot help ourselves. Once again, our best bet is asking the Lord to help guide us in our everyday lives.

In conclusion, I like the thoughts behind minimalism, because it takes the focus off of earthly possessions and tries to help people free up more time. However, I'm not going to stress too much about it anymore.

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