Chapter 5: Objects are not everything

A minimalist life is not just about objects—whether physical or digital—it is also about "the rest". Relationships, moods, sensations. Oftentimes people seek outer simplicity to compensate for a lack of inner one. Life can be messy, noisy, and chaotic. A quiet and clean environment helps to keep things under control. But that's not a permanent solution. Like hiding objects is not the same as getting rid of them, keeping our messy lives under control using external tools and tactics is also not the same as facing and solving our inner issues.

I'm not going to tackle the issue of mental health here—I'm not even remotely qualified to do so—I'm just going to point out that we can apply the same minimalist mindset to that sphere of our lives. You don't want too many relationships cluttering your life, focus on the ones that matter. You don't want to be constantly over-stimulated and hyper-active, take some time to decompress and relax. You don't want to always be surrounded by noise, find a quiet place where you can spend 5 or 10 minutes every day.

Go for a walk, enjoy nature, spend quality time with loved ones. These are all activities we often neglect. Focus less on the most popular object in you life—your phone—and more on the people around you.

Life is not all about objects. They play a role—an important one—but at the same time, objects can often be replaced. There's no replacement for wasted time and missed opportunities.

Minimalism is all about finding value in the world around us. We appreciate craftsmanship, we appreciate curation, we appreciate good design. But it's important to focus the same energies to appreciate a quality friendship or the kindness of a stranger. Don't be afraid to "declutter" your personal life. There's nothing wrong in letting people go. Sometimes it's the best for both of you.

I'm saying all this but at the same time, I'm perfectly aware that's easier said than done. Sometimes it's easier to start minimising our environment rather than facing our inner selves. And that's ok. Start wherever you're more comfortable. This is not a race. Just be mindful that life is not just about objects and a messy inner life will still be messy, even when surrounded by beautifully designed and minimal furniture.

This is Chapter 5 of the Manu's Guide To Minimalism. Links to the other chapters are down below.