Once you start on the journey into minimalism, it’s only natural to want to share this amazing discovery with everyone you know. Many couples become minimalist together, and there are minimalist and simplicity bloggers such as Joshua Becker and Leo Babauta-who have families, kids and homes to look after too.
I loved the new-found freedom becoming more minimalist gave me. As I got rid of more and more of my stuff, I wanted to share this with the people closest to me. I wanted to share the happiness and freedom, of course I did.
Make your friends into minimalists
So of course, I suggested they throw away all their stuff. To me, it was obvious. You want more spare cash? Stop buying more DVD’s! Sell what you’ve got! You want a clearer mind? De-clutter your house! Petrol’s too expensive? You don’t even need a car! Simple, right? Well, actually, no. I was met with reactions from flat out refusal to comments that this is a phase, it’s strange. People who didn’t understand minimalism and didn’t even want to understand when I ‘helpfully’ tried to explain it to them.I couldn’t understand it. Why did people want to remain miserable, surrounded by junk? Why did they continue to buy and buy and buy when I could see it wasn’t making them happy?
My problem was that I didn’t realise one crucial thing.
It’s your journey
I found Minimalism at a time that was right for me. I was actively looking for an answer that fit with my own philosophy, my own life. Minimalism fits me like a glove. I fit minimalism. Freedom from consumerism brings me a joy larger than any designer bag could bring. But that’s just the thing. It’s personal.
Ove time, I found that I needed to stop forcing my journey onto others. I needed to be empathic to other people. Just because I’d discovered this movement, this way of living my life….it didn’t mean everyone else I knew was ready, or willing, to come jump right into it with me. It took me a while to realise this. And it was a hard realisation to make. All I wanted to do was help, to share some of my joy with the people that meant most to me.
You can’t change someone
Imagine someone told you that to find true happiness, you needed to spend your entire life savings on a Ferrari, a Breitling, and 7 wardrobes full of clothes. You’d think they were daft, and obviously not truly happy if they have to, well, buy so much stuff. But looking at your (obviously quite well-off) friend, you do notice a spark in their eyes. They exude confidence, they’re constantly smiling. They’re really enjoying their shiny car and sparkly watch. They take joy in choosing well-made, colourful tailored clothes. They research purchases, talk to staff, and use each and every item they buy. They might have 7 closets full of clothes but they switch outfits up every day and every piece gets worn.
To give up everything that makes them happy? For this person, who finds true joy in buying and using beautiful products? Minimalism wouldn’t probably not be right for them right now. It may never be. What’s true for us may not be true for everybody. We can’t force our beliefs onto a person.
But what if we can see that minimalism would be good for someone?
How do you know? How can you say, for sure, that someone would benefit from becoming minimalist? It’s their journey, through their eyes. Until they make that choice themselves, it’s not up to us to decide for them. Every individual follows their own path. All we can do is support them.
By all means introduce the idea of minimalism. Discuss it. Talk about the pros and cons and your experiences. Talk about what it means to you. How it’s helped. The struggles. But don’t force someone to throw out all their possessions.
The best advert for minimalism is yourself
The best you can do is live your life. If someone sees the change in you, they may decide to become minimalist too. That’s their choice. It’s great to share the journey, for sure. But it’s your path.
My husband is not a minimalist. I have many possessions in my home that aren’t mine. Believe me I’ve tried to get him to get rid of the shelves of dvd’s, the ornaments, the clothes. But that’s my own agenda and I’ve realised that I love the person my husband is. It’s not the norm to give away many of your possessions. It is the norm, in our society currently, to collect and display possessions. They bring him joy and are part of who he is. I’m trying to learn to compromise (hard, if you know me!) and understand that I can’t change people and I wouldn’t want to either. It’s an ongoing process, for sure. But it says more about me than anyone else.
If someone wants in on minimalism, brilliant. But we must learn to know ourselves and know others too, and realise that all paths are unique. That’s what brings variety and understanding to the world. Discussion and differing viewpoints make the world go round, and sometimes illuminate our own minds in a different light too.
Embrace your own journey. And if someone decides to join you on it, welcome them wholeheartedly. But we can support and learn from others, even if minimalism isn’t right for them right now. Who knows, it may be in the future. But if not?
It doesn’t matter. Just keep learning.