Before my solo trip to Japan, back in June 2015, I read The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay1. The book highlights the benefits of minimalism, and how implementing it into our philosophy, personal space, and lifestyle, could lead us to better lives.
Throughout the book, Francine reminds us of extremely simple concepts that most of us know, but are so easy to forget. She repeats, over and over, that we are defined by how we act, think, and love. She puts it: “we are not what we own; we are what we do, what we think, and who we love.” Here are two potential benefits of the book:
- Help clarify your decision making criteria for what physical things you should keep, let go, or give to others.
- Learn systems that help you simplify, commit to less, say “no,” prioritize, standardize, delegate, embrace “good enough,” and more.
I was a few days away from departing to a fourteen-day trip to Japan when I read the book. Thus, the following paragraph managed to capture my attention:
[Minimalism] makes you nimble. Imagine traveling with only a light backpack instead—the experience is positively exhilarating. You arrive at your destination, leap off the plane, and zip by the crowds awaiting their luggage. You then jump on the subway, catch a bus, or start walking in the direction of your hotel. Along the way, you experience all the sights, sounds, and smells of a foreign city, with the time and energy to savor it all. You’re mobile, flexible, and free as a bird—able to tote your bag to museums and tourist sites, and stash it in a locker when need be.
To me, minimalism is not only about owning more or less stuff. It is about having less worries in all aspects of life. It is about the happiness, freedom, and flexibility that comes with a minimalist lifestyle. It is about having more time to focus on what is meaningful.
In words of Francine, “it is quite simple, actually: happiness is wanting what you have… we simply need to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have. If we’re going to make comparisons, we have to look globally, as well as locally; we have to look down the ladder, as well as up.”
If you’re seeking a less cluttered, more happy life, then minimalism could be for you.