A recent NY Times column took on the topic of minimalism in the modern, westernized world. (full article can be found here) The piece describes how one couple paired down; way down – to find a renewed daily efficiency and quality of life.
I’ve been dubbed a minimalist by my peers for my entire life. In a broader sense, I tend to be an idealist with the minimalism piece resulting from my personal quest to find a certain degree of creativity, objectivity, efficiency, and personal growth in nearly all that I do day to day. Forget peer pressure…I put enough on myself. But anyway…
It is with great certainty that one can function at a greater level of consciousness without stress and all of the ambient ‘noise’ created by our westernized world. We (in the US anyway) have evolved as a culture that strives to satisfy human needs with material goods. Our surrounding community tends to define wealth by seeing material items – where bigger is better, and attaining more is a measure of success. This is a sad reality, as personal and societal potential will never be reached. And at the roots of our current economic landslide lies this same fundamental flaw in America – this is death by consumerism.
With the pursuit of more, bigger, and better comes stress. First, stress placed on oneself to ‘fit in’ amongst peers or within a community, and second is the ongoing financial stress that comes with attaining, and maintaining material goods. When we operate with even the slightest degree of stress, we simply cannot operate at optimum capacity or performance. This is basic Maslowian Theory.
By contrast, Eastern cultures that place more value on spirituality and increased self-awareness tend to lead more minimalistic lifestyles. It is no coincidence that our Eastern counterparts are quickly gaining on, if not already surpassing the US as a global economic powerhouse. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out how to capitalize on a culture that strives to be consumers. We need to start being producers.
But, to produce, we need to pair down and encourage and promote lifestyles and a quality of life that affords the mental clarity to innovate, and produce. This is a very, very difficult thing to pursue here in the US given the damage that has already been done, but perhaps the few that are breaking the mold will pave some new ground for the rest.
History tends to repeat itself. When looking back at the ancient cultures of the world, there are vast periods of time where very minimalist people were in tune with a part of their psyche that the humans of today are clearly not connected with…and look at the remarkably impressive results even by today’s standards – monumental megalithic structures, temples, pyramids, and what have you – that we still don’t have an understanding for how they were built by the hands of humans. Point being that at one period in history, we realized our potential by focusing on what was important, working together, and not being selfish. There is no doubt in my mind, that the next era of innovation, heightened self awareness and expression, and exploits of the minimalistic entrepreneur will lead to a period of excellence again. Perhaps even rising the ideals of Atlantis from the depths of our intellect, and from the sea. Share