If a minimalist lifestyle were so easy to attain, then more people would be pursuing it. The truth is, there are many obstacles that prevent many of us from making radical to make our lifestyles work for us instead of us working for our lifestyles. These obstacles leave us with crippling amounts of debt, a lifestyle we can’t afford, health problems, emotional distress, and anxiety over the future.
1. Fear of what other people think. This is the number one reason why people hold onto things that have no meaning to them. They’re afraid of letting go of material possessions for the fear that others may think they’re crazy. They’re afraid of saying no to extra work loads for the fear that they may be seen as unambitious and downright lazy. They’re afraid of not showing up to every social event for the fear that others may exclude them and they’ll end up lonely. They’re afraid of not keeping up with the latest entertainment for the fear of missing out and not having something to talk about.
2. Dishonesty with ourselves. I’ve been dishonest with myself for quite a long time, especially during my late teens and early 20’s when I wanted to be an engineer, an intellectual, a young 21st century philosopher, a young adult fantasy author, a modern classic science fiction author, a famous pop singer, a fierce lone wolf who also was well-liked by others, and an attractive woman who was more desirable than the most beautiful model. I was chasing after all these things and created these unrealistic demands for myself to accomplish by the age of 22. I wasn’t being honest with myself about what was achievable with what I already have. It’s critical to be honest with yourself, acknowledge your own vanity, understand that outward “success” isn’t a measure of your value, and be content even when nobody is giving you recognition.
3. Being easily manipulated and influenced. Many of us are easily influenced by external things like advertising, the media, politics, and our peers. However, not all of these influences are good – in fact, most of them are bad because they instill fear of the future and feed on our insecurities in order to get us to do what they want. And this often results in spending more money on what we don’t need, pretending to be someone we’re not, and living a stressful life chasing after things that become worthless in the end.
4. Allowing others to determine our self-worth. Sure we all have things we need to improve on, but when we let other people zero in on our imperfections, we begin to question our self-worth, doubt that we’re capable of pursuing a life that’s good for us, and waste away our lives trying to prove them wrong in order to “earn back” our self-worth in their eyes. And that always complicates our lives because there’s a disconnect between what they want you to be and who you are.
5. Feeling insecure and inadequate. The more insecure and inadequate we feel about ourselves, the more likely we will overwork ourselves in order to prove that we’re ambitious enough, spend more money in order to prove that we’re rich enough, and try to be friends with everyone in order to prove that we’re outgoing enough. However, even if you do all these things to prove that you are not insecure or inadequate, it will never be enough for anyone you’re trying to please.
6. Feeling bored easily. People tend to spend the most money when they are bored. They waste their time with TV or other media when they are bored. They fill their lives with the most meaningless things when they are bored. Boredom causes us to be unsatisfied with our lives and fill us with the urge to buy or do something that looks “fun.” However, the more we feel bored, the more we trash our lives with random junk in order to achieve a short-term state of pleasure. In the end, this robs us of our time, money, and energy – which we could have utilized to pursue a greater purpose in life.
7. Having the urge to “do something” all the time. People think that doing nothing is very unproductive and that we should be overflowing our schedules with as much as we can. Not only does this cause us to lead stressful lives, it also makes us too busy to evaluate what is absolutely essential to us and what only distracts us from that. We don’t have to fill every waking moment with frivolous activities. Likewise, we don’t need do be doing something all the time to validate ourselves to others.
8. Letting past mistakes define us. This prevents us from creating a life that will truly make us happy because based on our past mistakes, we believe that we don’t deserve to live a life free from debt, stress, or bad health. Letting our past mistakes label us as failures is the most dangerous thought because it causes us to believe that our past forms our core identity and has power over the future. The truth is, it doesn’t. Who you once were is not who you are and not who you will be in the future.
9. Not understanding who we are. When we don’t have a solid foundation that forms the essence of who we are, we are lost. We spend our lives searching for what will make us feel “complete,” buying things to relieve stress or boredom, and working on things that make us believe we are worthy enough. Knowing your strengths, passions, and purpose can simplify your life, helping you avoid things that won’t contribute to that purpose or won’t bring long-term happiness.
10. Fear of being nothing. When people think of minimalism or a simple life, they think of people living in an empty house, doing nothing, eating nothing, and being nothing – unknown to the world, leading unexciting lives, not buying “fun” stuff, and overall just being a boring nobody with nothing. However, this is a huge misconception because people who live a simple life keep only the few things that are valuable to them and spend their time doing only the few things that bring them joy and align with their purpose in life. Despite minimalists being perceived as “having nothing,” they are the ones who are content with what they have, feel no pressure to fill their schedules with unimportant things, have enough savings, are debt-free, are more focused in their area of expertise, know that they have nothing to prove to anyone, and don’t allow others to manipulate them or make them feel inadequate. So it’s okay to be “nothing,” because you will have everything – everything that you value and deem as important.