mental health

[OPINION] Minimalism is about more than just getting rid of junk

Michelle Lado

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[OPINION] Minimalism is about more than just getting rid of junk
'Leaving Facebook was one of the best decisions I've ever made'

My journey with minimalism began during one of the pandemic’s dreadful moments: photos of the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach surfaced online, and people quickly began posting their own versions of a meme (where they’re on the other side of the binoculars, pretending to be on a beach vacation).

I understand that the meme was meant to be sarcastic. It was probably a way for people to cope with the absurdity of the multi-million-peso fake shoreline and the general anguish brought on by the global health crisis. Perhaps they merely wanted to make light of it all.

Even so, that’s when I decided to take a step back. I’ve had enough of the frivolous retorts to the Duterte administration’s scams. While I was aware of social media’s power as a tool for campaigning and information dissemination, it was no longer a productive platform for sharing and expression for me. I realized it was just a diversion from the important tasks that required my full attention.

Facebook has simply reinforced the illusion that we are free to exchange ideas and thoughts when in fact we are imprisoned by it.

Leaving it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It feels good to be free of unwanted content overload. There was no more bargaining with irrelevant posts, self-promotions, and misinformation. Suddenly, there was more time to focus on the next steps toward a more meaningful life. My headspace became clearer.

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Breaking away from Facebook’s grip

My online detox spread to other areas of my life in no time: I’d find myself cleaning the house more and throwing out things I no longer needed but clung to in case I’d need them again. Lately, it has become a therapeutic activity for me to delete thousands of redundant and unneeded photos and files (spanning a decade) from my phone, laptop, and SD cards/flash drives. I’d work on breaking bad habits and developing prolific ones. I’d only keep a few pieces in my closet and avoid purchasing new ones.

Material possessions no longer excite or motivate me to work hard and spend money on them. Branded items no longer pique my interest.

I now only buy and invest in things that my partner and I need. Our waste is always up for upcycling. The goal now is to reduce waste by eliminating mindless consumption. I do these things not because there is a standard for minimalism, but because I find that when I am not surrounded by unnecessary things, I am at peace.

Not just about downsizing things

However, minimalism is more than just reducing one’s material possessions or putting things in order. Minimalism is about more than just getting rid of junk; it is also about contentment, having set priorities (and showing up to see through them), freedom from fear, and rejecting consumerism. It is also about allowing what is consistent with your values. It could also mean letting go of a grudge or resentment that has grown ingrained in your heart (except of course if it is for Duterte and the Marcoses and their ilk and the abusers. We shall sear them to the ground.)

It is by no means restricted to cutting down everything in your life for no reason.

Minimalism is about mindful living.

Personally, it also means limiting my interactions with other people. No, I haven’t turned into a misanthrope; rather, I’ve become more introspective. I will not engage in an interaction if I know it will be a petty affair. However, if I am confident that it will be productive, I’ll be all ears. It’s not that I’m a snob or being righteous. It’s just that my energy is now limited to all things purposeful. It’s not always a perfect road, but the journey is what counts.

As a minimalist, others’ opinions will tell you that only their way of life is valid. In fact, because they lack access to the new you, they will continue to speak about the old you in order to discredit you. It is not, however, your responsibility to explain or prove anything. They are immaterial. You only have to answer to your principles.

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[OPINION] A case for holistic minimalism in the Philippines

[OPINION] A case for holistic minimalism in the Philippines

Some people regard minimalism as a luxury. Others argue that only the rich can afford to live with less. In some cases, I suppose they’re correct. For my part, I simply had a mental shift. All I know now is that wanting less means wanting more of the things that matter.

I make no room for anything that no longer adds value to my life. Everyone should be able to get rid of things that no longer serve them.

Reconciling with activism

As a progressive, it was difficult at first to reconcile minimalism and activism. While minimalism implies greater calm, activism entails going out into the open to give and do more. As I searched for a way to strike a balance, I realized that there is no need for a compromise between the two. The size of the channel through which you serve the people is not essential. The point is to live an intentional life, so that no matter what platform you use for activism, if that’s all you can offer, you’ve contributed enough.

Simple living is about the proverbial wisdom that comes with age: as you get older (and wiser), you realize what truly matters. When you know where you stand in life, everything else is clutter. –

Michelle Lado is a writer and an activist based in the Philippines.

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