Minimalism is not Dogma

Image Credit: Dogma, Lions Gate Films

As we seek to grow and make changes in our lives, we hit obstacles. A common obstacle can be lack of support from friends and family. They may not understand what we’re doing, or why. Our new ways of doing things can come off as judgmental to the way they choose to live, might seem frivolous, or are just plain foreign to how they see the world.

In my home, my husband has been great about adapting to organic eating, as well as reducing our waste. Minimalism, however, has been difficult for him as well as everyone else in the family. My husband, son and mother-in-law all love to collect CDs movies, video games, plushies, figurines, and more.

Additionally, my husband is frugal. He doesn’t buy new things often. Most of his collection items come to him as gifts. He rarely gets rid of household objects because he believes there is a time in the future they might come in handy. I appreciate his frugality and can see his perspective about needing something in the future. Yet, as a minimalist, I see other ways to be frugal and meet the concern of items being needed down the road.

This difference of opinion definitely causes friction. Since I am the one instigating change, I feel like the onus is on me to see things from his perspective and instead of seeing ourselves at odds, try to find a solution that meets both of our needs for frugality.

The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, discuss in their collection Essential Essays, something they call the 20/20 rule. This rule means that if something you “might” use in the future can be replaced for less than $20, within 20 minutes, you can go ahead and get rid of it. The logic of this rule is that storing items for possible future use is expensive. We are paying for the space to store them. We may spend time maintaining these items. (I say “may” because many people leave these “maybe” items to fall into disrepair or let them pile up with no further attention.) We spend frustrating time digging through the piles or cupboards or boxes searching for items we think we have saved for down the road. All of these expenditures usually add up to more than if we just followed the 20/20 rule.

Still, old habits can be difficult to break, and some people may not be interested in adopting Minimalism or the 20/20 rule. That’s okay. Minimalism isn’t a religion. I’m not a preacher, here to lord my dogma over family, friends, and the public at large. It is something that resonates with me and has become a way of life. I see it as a path to a simpler existence where I have more time for my passions.

In my home, this means compromise. I can certainly reduce or remove my own physical and intangible things that I see as obstacles to the lifestyle I want to have. Yet I share this home with three other people I care about, and that means we share items, finances and other things that I only have a 1/4 vote in. That also means that this morning I had to apologize to my husband for throwing out the Rustbuster oil that had been languishing in the laundry room cupboard for two years. He did indeed need it down the road, and that time was this morning when he needed to remove the rust covered lawn mower bolt so we could take the blade in for sharpening.

The secret to solving issues like these is to understand we both have similar goals, albeit different understandings of how to achieve them. By working together, we can come up with new solutions that meet both our concerns. I have a feeling it’s going to involve the mess of a shed in the back yard that we’ve both been avoiding dealing with. Eek!

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