Minimalism is uncomfortable.
This is something which puts a lot of people off it. We have products designed to reduce every possible source of irritation. Self-stirring mugs. Corn-on-the-cob holders. Phone battery packs. Whatever minor friction you facing, there is a product which claims to solve it. To keep everything cushioned and easy.
This is a tremendous privilege, yet many treat it as a necessity.
It is not a necessity. It is not even natural. Most people throughout most of human existence lived uncomfortable lives. This wasn't called minimalism, or masochism, or boot-strapping or whatever. That was how life was; uncomfortable.
One of the biggest things minimalism has taught me is to be comfortable with discomfort.
What is so terrible about discomfort anyway? It takes a piece of grit to produce a pearl. Hours of pain to create a beautiful tattoo. Discomfort is underrated in a world where everyone seems intent on sanding down the sharp edges.
Our societal preoccupation with comfort is sort of insidious. It is not just about physical stuff - it seeps into every area of life. So many people drive around in cars that tell them which turning to take, sit in climate controlled rooms, order take-out, take hot showers and pacify, pacify, pacify. They don't read challenging books or watch difficult films, face up to real life issues or do anything that scares them. They stay in meaningless relationships, scroll Facebook for hours and make endless excuses.
At first, I worried about how I would survive without the majority of my belongings. I thought it would be a tragedy to not own everything I might need, and buy more when new gaps emerged. I had grown used to being in a comfortable cocoon of stuff.
It is harder to take something away than it is to have never had it in the first place. I began with a lot of stuff and that made it tough to get rid of it all.
But that was a minor inconvenience. I quickly learned that subjecting myself to small bits of harmless friction is an excellent sort of exposure therapy. After discarding most of my crap, I started looking for other ways to push myself out of my comfort zone. Things like taking cold showers, reading challenging books, deleting social media accounts, applying the 40% rule, taking difficult classes and other little sources of friction.
Then, when something truly difficult comes along in my life, it is much easier to be resilient. Because the most significant things we do in life tend to be the ones outside of our comfort zone- travelling, moving house, starting or ending a relationship, making a career pivot.
Minimalism puts things into perspective.
Life is not all about being comfortable and cosy. Possessions are not what should make things feel safe. That comes from an internal sense of self-reliance and stability. Our belongings are not permanent. Things break, get lost, run out and some people lose everything.
I ask myself; if I can't handle not owning everything I might need (just in case), how can I expect to handle the big things in life? How will I ever travel the world, do creative work, and deal with the big challenges?
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