I grew up in a poor family in a bustling but economically impoverished neighbourhood of Lagos, Nigeria. With six of us living in one room (so you can imagine how cramped and exhausting it was). Sometimes, I would wake up to find myself under the bed, my face stained with charcoal from the blackened pots that we kept under the bed.
One time, my close friend invited me and my cousin to her birthday party, but I had nothing nice to wear. I was devastated because I really wanted to go to the party and have some fun. All I do all day in our cramped one-room apartment is read, get yelled at, and run errands for the elderly members of my family. So, I was really excited about the party.
On the day of the party, I broke my piggy bank and gathered about 700 naira to buy Okirika (thrift clothes) from the market. I wasn’t the best dressed, but I went to the party anyway and had a great time. I danced, laughed, ate jollof rice, and forgot all about my troubles.
The point is, with just 700 naira, I had a good time.
We often think of luxury as being something expensive and extravagant. But luxury can be found in the simplest things. A funny joke from a friend and a beautiful sunset can all be considered luxuries. These small moments can bring us great joy and happiness, and they can have a lasting impact on our lives.
In this piece, we will explore practical strategies and mindset shifts that can help individuals live meaningful minimalist lives.
So let’s dive right in!
What Is A Meaningful Minimalist Life?
A meaningful minimalist life is about focusing on what truly matters and letting go of excess. It’s about finding joy in simplicity and living intentionally.
In a meaningful minimalist life, you prioritize experiences over possessions, find contentment in the little things and live with intention. It is knowing that you don’t need to become a billionaire before you can be happy – I am not saying chasing riches is not okay but it simply means that it shouldn’t be the centre of your existence. You can live a meaningful minimalist life without breaking the bank or letting peer pressure get to you.
Many people have difficulties in living a happy and meaningful life because of their lifestyle and how they perceive that of others. You probably think I’m crazy for using “Life” and “Lifestyle “ in the same sentence so, let me clear the air.
Difference Between Life And Lifestyle
Life is the overall existence and experiences of a person, munching together various aspects such as relationships, work, and personal growth.
Lifestyle, on the other hand, is the specific way in which an individual chooses to live their life, including their habits, routines, and choices in areas like diet, exercise, and leisure activities. It’s like the unique flavour and style that you add to your life. Notice where I said there’s a choice? Yes! There’s always a choice.
At every moment life presents two or multiple actions to take. And we must make a choice.
Make the wrong choice, and you get the cane; make the right one, and you get the gain.
A wrong choice might be buying a new phone even though you have a perfectly good one, just to impress others. This could lead to financial anxiety.
A good choice might be sticking to the old phone until you need to upgrade and have the resources to finance it.
To make good choices, we must first understand the factors that influence them. These include our values, beliefs, goals, and needs. We must also consider the potential consequences of each option, both short-term and long-term.
Once we have weighed all the factors, we can make a decision that is aligned with our values and goals. It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choice-making. And mistakes are inevitable.
However, the best decision is the one that is right for you, given your unique circumstances; it leads to a fulfilling life, as it shapes our experiences, relationships, and future.
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Reasons Why People Find It Difficult To Lead A Meaningful And Purposeful Life As A Minimalist
There are several reasons why many people find it difficult to live a meaningful minimalist life and some of them are:
Lack of financial literacy
According to a study by the National Financial Educators Council, the consequences of not being financially literate can be costly – which means that it can lead to long-term financial instability. And to S&P’s Global Financial Literacy Survey, African countries score the worst in terms of financial literacy in the world – this proves that without an understanding of basic financial concepts, people are not well-equipped to make decisions related to financial management.
Many individuals don’t have proper education or guidance on financial management, including budgeting, saving, and investing. Without this knowledge, they may struggle to make informed decisions about their resources.
Financially literate people have the ability to make informed financial choices regarding saving, investing, borrowing, and more.
So, to curb financial illiteracy, you can start by educating yourself about personal finance. Read books, take online courses, or seek advice from financial experts. Remember, knowledge is power!
Impulsive spending habits
A common challenge is the tendency to spend money impulsively on non-essential items or experiences. This can lead to financial instability and difficulty in managing resources effectively.
In order to not have unexpected financial difficulties, there is always a need to focus only on what matters and what is truly needed. To stop impulsive spending, try creating a budget and sticking to it. Take a moment to think before making a purchase and ask yourself if it’s something you really need.
Absence of gratitude practices
When we don’t practice gratitude, we might overlook the small joys and blessings in our lives.
Gratitude helps us appreciate what we have and find meaning in everyday moments. It’s like wearing gratitude glasses that make life brighter and more fulfilling.
Germany Kent, an American broadcast journalist, said that once we start to take note of the things we are grateful for, we begin to lose sight of the things that we lack, This means that by practising the act of gratitude, peer pressure won’t get to us, we won’t lack contentment and that we won’t need to worry excessively.
Lack of goal-setting
Without clear financial goals, it can be hard to know where your money is going and how to reach your financial goals.
Setting specific goals gives you a sense of direction and focus when managing your money.
Without setting any goals in life, you may feel lost and unmotivated. This can make it difficult to live a meaningful life.
Goals give you something to strive for and a sense of accomplishment when you achieve them. They help you grow, challenge yourself, and make progress towards what you truly want.
For example, I attended a tech conference two weeks ago. I made sure I wasn’t busy that day so I could focus on the event. I also planned for it financially. If I hadn’t been able to do those things, I wouldn’t have gone.
Setting a goal is simple. It’s a guide for taking action, and those actions give our lives meaning.
Living beyond means
Some people may consistently spend more money than they earn, relying on credit cards or loans to cover the shortfall. This can lead to excessive debt and financial stress.
A friend of mine told me recently that one of her friends took out a loan of about 780,000 Naira and purchased an iPhone 13. I mean, she’s not a content creator or a writer so she probably doesn’t need a phone that costs that much.
To avoid living beyond your means, it’s important to create a budget and stick to it.
Track your income and expenses, and prioritize your needs over wants. Remember, living within your means allows for financial stability and all-round peace of mind.
Unexpected financial emergencies
Unforeseen events, such as medical expenses or job loss, can put individuals in a difficult financial situation. Without an emergency fund or contingency plan, managing resources becomes even more challenging. Sometimes, unexpected things happen occasionally and a good way to solve these unexpected problems is to remain calm and find alternative ways to solve the problems – sometimes, it is okay to ask for help. However, it is better to have an emergency fund set up – start by saving a little bit each month so you’re prepared for those unexpected expenses.
Proven Ways To Find Meaning And Purpose In A Minimalist Lifestyle
Established fact-findings have shown that there are lots of ways that can ensure a meaningful minimalist lifestyle and some of them are:
Prioritize needs over wants:
Distinguish between essential needs and unnecessary wants, focusing on fulfilling basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing. For example, if you need to pay your house rent and you also want to attend a friend’s birthday party but you cannot do both because you lack financial resources, it is better to prioritize your house rent over a party that will end in 24hrs.
The goal is to weigh the impact and importance of each need.
Practice non-extravagant lifestyle:
Declutter your living space, adopt a non-extravagant lifestyle, and let go of material possessions that do not bring value or joy. Simplify your daily routines and focus only on what is essential.
Embrace a mindset of intentional living, prioritizing experiences over material possessions.
Remember that It’s about finding freedom and contentment in one’s life and also living with greater mindfulness. This way, living a meaningful minimalist life gets easier and more purposeful.
“I’ve learned that minimalism is not about what you own, it’s about why you own it” – Brain Knapp Gardner
Adopt prudent habits:
Develop a budget, track expenses, and find creative ways to save money, such as cooking meals at home, utilizing public transportation, or shopping second-hand. Recently, I found out that I have been wasting a lot of money eating out. Two months ago, I patronized a lot of food vendors and I was happy because I thought it was easier. I mean, I don’t need to cook or go to the market to get foodstuffs. All I need is to place an order and the rider will deliver it to my doorstep.
These felt easier until I calculated how much I spent for a month. I was wowed, of course, nobody taught me to buy foodstuffs this month. I haven’t even eaten half of what I bought from the market and I am fully guaranteed that it is going to last me a while longer. Sometimes, you might feel like your life is not meaningful because you cannot track your expenses. So, it is important to take notes of how you are using your resources.
Recognize and appreciate the abundance in your life, no matter how small it may seem, by focusing on what you have rather than what you lack. In the past, I always looked at my friends and the expensive clothes they wear. I forgot that I have something more valuable. I was focused on what I didn’t have rather than on what I had. I mean, I turned out to be one of the most intelligent and talented people among my friends. Shift your perspective from “I’m not enough” to “I’m enough and I have everything I need” – this way, you have the secret to living a meaningful life even with limited resources.
Regularly write down three things you are grateful for, fostering a positive mindset and increasing awareness of the blessings in your life. Gratitude isn’t just a pleasant feeling. It brings about greater health support, happiness, and wisdom in ourselves and even amongst others.
So, it is important to make gratitude cultivation one of your strong fortes.
Nurture meaningful connections:
Invest time and energy in building and maintaining relationships with family, friends, and loved ones. For instance, you can go to the beach with your friends, or partner or even walk your dog to the park. These acts make your relationship with people strong and it can contribute to living a meaningful life. Before you say “Outside is expensive“ remember that it doesn’t have to be.
There are cheaper ways to make your friends or families happy e.g., visiting a free beach, grabbing drinks in an affordable restaurant or lounge, walking to the pack with your friends, and even gisting or having meaningful conversations.
Quality over quantity:
Focus on the depth and quality of your relationships rather than the number of acquaintances, emphasizing trust, support, and shared experiences. Sometimes, having one friend can be more helpful than having multiple friends. I have just one close friend apart from friends I made online through connections or job referrals and I can tell you that one friend is enough for me. I mean, our interests and values align. The quality of friends or relationships you keep has a huge impact on your life. They can provide support, encouragement, and positive influences. Good friends can help you grow, achieve your goals, and make life more enjoyable and meaningful.
Create a support network:
Seek out like-minded individuals who share your values and can provide emotional support, guidance, and encouragement. For example, if you’re a writer, you need to keep more writer friends in case of any opportunities. Like, most of my friends are graphic designers, content creators, data analysts, website developers etcetera. This indicates that I mostly keep like-minded friends and even if they aren’t in my line of work, I always make sure that I am learning something from them.
Engage in continuous learning by reading books, taking online courses, or attending workshops to expand your knowledge and skills. Rigidity is dangerous and that one needs to keep learning to find true balance. One of the importance of learning is that it stimulates our imagination and helps us communicate better. Reading is like going on an adventure without travelling to cities because you already have all you need in your cozy spot. Additionally, engaging in vast learning also helps in personal growth and this can make living a meaningful life easier.
Set goals and pursue passions:
Identify your interests and set achievable goals to pursue them, allowing personal growth and a sense of purpose to thrive. For example, if you’re a photographer, you can try to team up with other photographers or attend studio sessions and events. You can also set a target by taking several pictures – you could capture a bird, location, or anything for your social media pages. By doing this, you will feel a sense of accomplishment even if you’re not getting paid yet. Pursuing passion and interests can make one’s life more enjoyable.
Regularly reflect on your values, strengths, and areas for improvement, fostering personal growth and self-awareness.
To practice self-reflection, take some quiet time to think about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Ask yourself meaningful questions like “What are my values and goals?” or “What can I learn from this situation?” Write in a journal, meditate, or simply sit in silence.
Self-reflection helps you gain self-awareness, make better decisions, and grow as a person. It’s like having a heart-to-heart conversation with yourself.
Volunteer and contribute:
Offer your time, skills, or resources to organizations or causes that align with your values, making a positive impact on others’ lives. This doesn’t mean that the value you create should always be free. No! it just means that you should contribute to things that bring you happiness and fulfilment. For instance, if you’re a writer you can write a free educational piece for a blog – this can help readers a lot.
Practice kindness and empathy:
Show compassion and empathy towards others, engaging in acts of kindness and offering support whenever possible. Sometimes, when you share in other people’s pain or walk in their shoes, it helps to see life from another perspective and it also sheds light on what “living” truly means.
Share knowledge and skills:
Sharing knowledge and skills helps in many ways. I mean, When we share what we know, we empower others to learn and grow. Also, It fosters collaboration, builds stronger communities, and promotes personal development.
By sharing our expertise, we contribute to the collective wisdom and make a positive impact on others’ lives. Plus, it feels great to see others benefit from what we have to offer.
Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. –
Conclusion: A meaningful life is not about what you have, but who you are and what you experience.
You can live a meaningful and purposeful life as a minimalist and it does not make you far behind your peers.
By embracing simplicity, cultivating gratitude, prioritizing relationships, pursuing personal growth, and giving back to others, individuals can find fulfilment and purpose irrespective of their financial circumstances.
Making the right choices, and prioritizing in general can make living a meaningful minimalist life easier rather than seeing life as inadequate.
People mistake riches for a meaningful life because money can provide comfort and security. But true meaning comes from relationships, experiences, and personal growth.
Minimalism encourages individuals to prioritize experiences, relationships, and personal growth over the accumulation of material possessions.
It is through these mindset shifts and intentional actions that one can discover the true essence of a meaningful life, where happiness and contentment are derived from the richness of experiences, relationships, personal growth, and making a positive impact on the world around us.
Here is some more content you can explore:
- 15 Practices That Will Help You Overcome Inferiority Complex
- The True Meaning of Patience:
- The Power of Acceptance: How To Change Your Circumstances By Embracing Them
- Forget Others’ Ideas Of Career Success. Here Is How To Create Yours.
- 60 Big And Small Things To Be Grateful For Every Day [Even When Things Are Tough]
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