When most people first hear the word “minimalism,” they focus on the root “minimal” and usually uncomfortable images of “less” arise. If you have grown up with a scarcity mindset–which most of us have, thanks to society and marketers–then you may wonder how minimalists could claim “Less is More” so confidently.
But it took stripping away the excess–what some might think of as an abundance–to find out just how truly abundant my life was now that I was left with only things that brought me value.
Minimalism gave me an abundance of time and an abundance of money that I have never experienced before. And that can really feel like freedom. Like true wealth.
When I say wealth, I don’t mean that I now have a mansion and a fleet of luxury cars or a private jet. But this freedom I’m speaking of is this abundant life that minimalism has opened my eyes to. The thing is, abundance is NOT stuff. It’s not fancy things. It’s not jumping in to a vault of gold like Scrooge McDuck or sporting Louis Vuitton purses. Abundance is about the ENERGY driving your actions and beliefs.
The more abundant I FEEL, the less money I’m inclined to spend.
If you’re eating a meal and feel full to the brim, do you want to eat more? No. The same goes with your energy and outlook on life. If you’re feeling full to the brim with gratitude for all that you already have, do you feel an urge to whip out your credit card and obtain more things? No.
If you’re feeling truly abundant in your life, then you don’t want to stuff it with more Things. …it’s amazing what this mindset switch will do for your bank account. And then, in no time at all, you’ll notice your accounts are looking as abundant as you feel.
We overspend because we are living in a state of scarcity. We let society and social media influencers and advertisers convince us that we are not good enough–that we don’t have enough.
Rather, if we live in a state of abundance, we’d feel less inclined to believe such messaging, and if we did consider purchasing something, it would come with questions like, “Do I actually want this thing?” “Does it serve me?” “Does this bring any real value to my life?”
Once you experience this you will likely continue to choose having that abundant feeling of knowing there is cash in your bank account, rather than chasing a false sense of abundance, a facade of wealth, by purchasing more and more things. It’s an abundant feeling to no longer stress about money or worry about retirement or worry about overdraft fees. It’s far more abundant to feel this sort of financial freedom than it is to buy the umpteenth pair of shoes or whatever knick-knack is your current weakness.
So pay attention to the energy driving your actions and purchases. Is it coming from a feeling of lack? Do you feel some void that you are trying to fill?
If you sense that, take a moment to start listing what you are grateful for. Shift your energy away from needing and wanting and instead recognize how blessed you are for what you already have.
I’ll give a few examples of things that feel abundant in my life, that society might try to tell me is not good enough:
Abundant Me: In two weeks I’m flying across the country to spend four glorious days with my best friend! It’s been so long since I’ve been able to travel–how delightful it is to have this sense of normalcy and adventure back in my life!
Society/Marketers: You’re flying economy class. You need to upgrade to first class.
Abundant Me: Bahhhh…I’m just grateful for this opportunity. How wonderful it is that I don’t have to go into work that week and have this free time in my life to spend with one of the few people on this planet that I love the most.
Society/Marketers: But you’ll be flying into Texas and you don’t own a cowgirl hat. You need to go buy a new hat. And maybe some cowgirl looking clothes. Think of the Instagram pictures!
Abundant Me: My sunhat will be perfectly fine. I have sundresses already that will look totally different once paired with the boots I already own. That’s western enough, thank you very much! How lucky I am to already have clothes! It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to pull out some of my cuter dresses. How grateful I am to have these already!
Society/Marketers: You live in a scuzzy old 1970s duplex and you share a wall with strangers that you can often hear. There’s a rusty chain-link fence on one side and some rotting fence boards on the other. The exterior is so dumpy and plain Jane and boring–it looks like you have no money. What will all your friends think when they come over to stay with you for a few days? They’ll take one glance at this old rental and see that you really haven’t amounted to much.
Abundant Me: I live just a 3-minute bike ride to the ocean! I get to play on the beach every single day. How freaking amazing is that?! It’s like I’m on vacation every day for years on end. There’s palm trees outside of the window and my backyard looks like a subtropical jungle. How lucky am I that I get to lay in my hammock in this jungly spot and smell the ocean breeze. How amazing is it that my husband can go surf every single morning? How cool is it that my kids get to go to the beach on a whim and we don’t have to pack up the house or make any plans at all. We get to just toss a towel and a bottle of sunscreen in the bike basket and ride down in our swimsuits. It just doesn’t get any better than that! This is the life!
Society/Marketers: But you should own the house you live in so that your friends and family will see that you have been successful financially. It should probably be new construction with granite countertops and sleek new hardware. Go ahead and add a two-car garage and nice pavers going up the driveway. Hire a landscaper to professionally design the front yard and don’t forget the uplighting on the trees so it makes an impact at night, too. Yeah, you should buy a new house. Your mom will be proud and your friends will be so impressed.
Abundant Me: Realistically, it would be a poor decision to dump all of my money on an actual beach house …because no way would I give up this fantastic beach lifestyle. I’m just grateful I can afford to live like I’m on vacation because of this funky little house and it’s affordable rent. And I don’t need my friends and family to see an outward projection of my financial situation. I’m just grateful that my husband and I never have to go into work again–that we never have to rely on a boss or a paycheck. This crummy looking rental means we have no stress in our life. It doesn’t bother me if friends or family crinkle their nose at the rusty chain-linked fence, because I feel very secure with my financial future. I won’t give up that security and freedom simply to delight them with a pretty new house. I’m grateful for this mustard-yellow duplex.
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed how I italicized certain vocabulary that is now a regular part of my vocabulary and my mental state. Do you see how being grateful for what I already have, I don’t fall into society’s trap to indulge or spend? I don’t need to fly first-class and I don’t need to own a house (unless it’s an income-producing asset). I can sit in gratitude for all that I have–the things, the opportunities, the lifestyle, the freedom–and recognize that I live in absolute abundance.
We are very frugal people. We’re the kind of frugal that other people love to make fun of. Even in the FIRE/financial independence community, you’ll see people poke fun at the “LeanFIRE” or “Mustachian” type of frugal people. And yet, I marvel all of the time at how luxurious our life feels. It truly does! The ability to bike everywhere and afford tropical vacations and make incredible dinners and to have the time to play with our kids and pursue our creative passions and sit on the beach….that’s glamorous! That’s luxurious! That’s abundant. (And we spend only around $27K a year or less on this lifestyle).
So I hope this helped someone switch their mindset today.
Take a moment and sit in gratitude. Count your blessings. Marvel at your life in awe.
Because once you recognize the abundance in your life, it will only become more and more abundant.
Be sure to join Meg Nordmann on her “Journey to Freedom” podcast each Wednesday! Subscribe to hear from others who have found financial freedom, time freedom & freedom from “stuff” (minimalism/consumerism). You, too, can opt out of the cultural norms and begin your own journey to a more free and fulfilling life.
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