Getting to the heart of minimalism

Getting to the heart of minimalism

When I lived in Sarasota, it was easy to get wrapped up in the luxury of it all. I went to expensive restaurants, owned a Mercedes, and generally reveled in the glamorous lifestyle. Despite the fact that I sampled the “good life”, I was by no means as excessive as many people. For instance, some friends tried to convince me to buy a house at the peak of the housing boom, and it seemed like a very bad idea to me, so I passed. I also used a good portion of my generous income to pay off my undergraduate student loan. While I enjoyed the glamour, I was still practical by most standards.

Sometime after the economic collapse, money stopped flowing quite so generously, and I started to take a look at how I could cut back. I wanted more security, but security seemed to be ever more fleeting. I had become very stressed out by my career and was not feeling as satisfied with it now that my income was decreasing. I sold my car and became obsessed with the tiny house movement – an alternative to 30-year mortgages and being married to your job.

A former client of mine, whose business depended on conspicuous consumption by the very wealthy, was forced into bankruptcy as his business shriveled up after 2008. I was shocked because he seemed to be doing so well. He had a 52′ yacht, shopped at Saks Fifth Avenue and exuded success and wealth.

I had coffee with him about a month ago. He looked great… happy. He told me how his life has changed since all that happened. He still has a boat – but much smaller. He said, “You know what I found out. Small boats are just as much fun as big boats.”

Since the economic collapse, I’ve exchanged the stress of trying to maintain the “good life” with the happiness of maintaining my amazingly rich life. I’m richer now than I’ve ever been. I’m rich in happiness, health, love, friendships and time. I live a simple life and focus on the experience of living instead of the need to accumulate possessions. This is the heart of minimalism.

I’m not the only one figuring out what’s really important in life. I attended a gathering last night of a local group of minimalists. It was interesting to hear about everyone’s story. As organizer Andy Chirch said, minimalism isn’t a destination – it’s a journey. It means something different to everyone, and everyone is at a different point in their journey. But the one thing they all had in common was that they wanted something more that money couldn’t buy.

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