Do you constantly chase more things? Learn how minimalism can change your life
More often than not, less is more. By being more selective, and reducing the number of things you have and do every day, you can quickly improve your life.
Unfortunately, most people are often bombarded by ads that tell them more things equal more happiness. Most people compare themselves with others, and don’t feel fulfilled until they have what other people have. Most people keep buying stuff over and over again, and the more they buy, the more they want.
In this article I am going to explain why you should forget about quantity and focus on quality instead. Specifically, we’re going to have a look at physical items, daily activities, information, and relationships.
When it comes to these four areas of life, we usually assume that to feel happier, we have to do and have more. We think we should accumulate more objects; have a busier schedule; know everything about everything; and meet more people.
However most of the time this would actually have the opposite effect: by focusing on quantity, we wouldn’t be able to identify what truly fulfils us. Moreover, we would gradually lose the ability to appreciate what we do have, and instead of creating more joy and excitement, we would have a pretty boring life.
Quality over quantity with the things you own
When it comes to minimalism and decluttering, the first thing that comes to mind is physical items.
Your goal should be to surround yourself with a few items that are beautiful and useful — either because you need them, or because they make your life better.
For example, while you probably don’t need a journal, or a pair of comfortable shoes, or an expensive smartphone, they clearly make your life easier, so it makes all the sense in the world to keep those times.
But what about clutter? What about old clothes, knick knacks, piles of magazines? Do you feel joy and excitement when you look at those things? Do they make your life better in any way? If the answer to these questions is no, then you should probably get rid of them.
What do you gain when you get rid of something?
This is a great concept I discovered when reading Goodbye, Things — a book on minimalism by Fumio Sasaki.
When discarding objects, most people automatically think of what they will lose. This puts them in a fearful state, so they end up keeping all their items, even if they don’t really like them.
So if there’s an item you want to throw away, ask yourself what you will gain once the item is gone. This could be:
- Extra free time (for example, because you won’t need to clean the item anymore; if this doesn’t sound like a lot, think long term)
- Extra space, which usually makes you home look bigger and cleaner
- Extra peace of mind (you’ll have one less thing to think about, and if you’ve been thinking about discarding the item for a while, you’ll also feel liberated)
As long as we think more is better, it will seem logical to keep buying and accumulating stuff. Start asking yourself what you will gain if you decide to have less, and it’ll be easier to be more selective.
Quality over quantity with the things you do
If you try to do everything, you’ll probably end up doing nothing at all.
Any activity requires a lot of your time, focus, energy, and perhaps a lot of your money as well. These resources are limited, even if you are good at managing them. So you need to carefully decide where you are going to invest them.
If you put all your resources in two or three tasks, projects, or activities, chances are you’ll perform really well. Conversely, when you try to invest your time and energy in ten different tasks at the same time, you’ll usually get poor results. You’ll never be able to build a tower if your bricks are all over the place.
This doesn’t just apply to work, but also personal development, having fun, and doing the things you love. Focusing on only one or a few things will make everything easier and more enjoyable.
There’s nothing wrong with having a busy schedule, as long as you can be productive and efficient, and get enough rest. But if you notice you are busy for the sake of being busy, ask yourself whether that’s working or not.
Quality over quantity with social media and information
Social media per se isn’t a bad thing. In recent years, it has allowed millions of people to share and consume useful content, get in touch with like-minded people, and learn amazing things.
It has also given business owners incredible opportunities; it has made it easier for job seekers to send applications and discover potential new jobs — all for free.
The issue, again, is how most people use social media. If you want to be in control, and benefit from using it, you need to be very careful when choosing the content/accounts you will interact with — social media can be incredibly distracting and time consuming.
If what you see or read has a purpose (for example, because it motivates you, or teaches you new things, or opens up new opportunities) then there’s nothing wrong with spending time on it. If, on the other hand, it’s mostly a waste of time, you need to evaluate whether it’s worth it.
Also, each time you see something on social media I recommend you ask yourself how it makes you feel. When you consume a certain kind of content, do you feel happy and inspired? Or do you feel depressed? If that’s the latter, that’s a red flag.
The same, of course, applies to information in general — whether it’s reading books, or watching the news, or videos on YouTube. Your brain can only process a certain amount of things each day, and you can’t learn everything about everything. So it makes sense to only learn what you truly care about, and what makes you happy.
Never assume new information is automatically a good thing. Focus on the things that matter to you, and you’ll have a better life.
Quality over quantity with people
Because, again, many people think more is better, they also apply this concept to relationships and the way they interact with others. They believe the only way to improve their social life is to meet more people and have more friends, so that’s what they try to do.
However in doing so, they often forget that it’s about the quality of people they interact with (whether it’s friends or relationships). If all you focus on is quantity, then you may end up being surrounded by a lot of people who don’t really care about you, or use you, or drain your energy.
It’s true that being social is a prerequisite for optimal mental health and happiness. What I am saying is, too many people get this wrong, and instead of finding a few people they truly resonate with, they try and find a thousand who may not even remember their name.
A person deserves your time only if they genuinely care about you. It must be someone you can trust, someone who won’t judge you for being yourself. Way too many people end up being surrounded by backstabbers or energy vampires simply because they are in need of social approval.
Now, does that mean you should always be reserved and guarded when socializing? Of course not. But do remember that quality is better than quantity, even when it comes to people. So spend your time with those who support you and make you happy, and don’t worry about how many friends you have (online or offline).
Your resources are limited, so don’t invest them in a thousand different things simply because society told you to do so.
This applies to the physical things you own, your daily activities, the information you consume every day, and other people (whether it’s friends or relationships).
The concept of quality over quantity could also do wonders for your self-image, and could make you a stronger, better person. When you stop settling for less than you deserve, better things will happen to you, and you’ll learn to say no.
Some people may think you’re a bit too selfish, or arrogant, but at the end of the day, who cares? Choose the best and don’t worry about quantity: you’ll have more joy, more freedom, and way less stress.
If you want to find out more about minimalism and simplifying your life, I recommend the book Goodbye, Things (you can find my review here). It’s a quick and easy read, but it opened my eyes, and it literally changed my life.
Psst! Don’t forget to check out my collection of quality over quantity quotes!