In More’s Utopia, Raphael Hythloday is asked to become a king’s adviser, a position that would, supposedly, make him richer and happier. He answers: ‘Happier? is that to be compassed in a way so abhorrent to my genius?’ His listeners stare at him with amazement: “He neither desires wealth nor greatness”.
Since Raphael knows Utopia, he is able to view reality from a different perspective: not accepting the definition of happiness made by others and inventing his own path to it. This is what Joshua and Ryan have done by creating The Minimalists, a movement which aims to simplify our lives by reducing consumerism and donating the stuff we don’t actually need to those who do. They define Minimalism as “a tool that can assist you in finding freedom (…), freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around”. “Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which actually aren’t things at all”.
The point is not to get rid of all possessions (we will always need some things to survive) but to be conscious of whether they are adding value to our lives or just disturbing us. As Tyler Durden says in Palahniuk’s Fight Club, “things you own end up owning you”, and the more we accumulate possessions thinking they’ll bring us happiness the more we’re losing the control of our lives and becoming miserable.
The burden brought about by the accumulation of possessions is a recurring topic examined by authors since the beginning of the “consumerism era”. Reading Perec’s Les Choses is as overwhelming as having to move all your life’s possessions, and always keeping an eye on our watches could make us feel like a dog on a lead, as Julio Cortázar describes comically with his “Preamble to the instructions on how to wind a watch”.
In response to this crazy accumulation of stuff, we need initiatives like The Minimalists, as they not only help us to become happier by giving us more space, but also contribute to our environment by reducing consumerism and helping those who are in need with donations.
If you want to become a minimalist and help others, you can start by playing the challenging 30-Day Minimalism Game! www.theminimalists.com/game/
To know more about Ryan and Joshua’s movement, take a look at the following links:
- “A rich life with less stuff” –The Minimalists Tedx Talk:
- The Minimalists webpage: