Continued from Part 1
How to Embrace Minimalism?
I am on a journey to declutter my life. I am far from being an exemplary minimalist. Trying to be as financially independent as possible while still looking for a full-time job has helped restrain me from spending indiscriminately. At the same time, it’s easier to develop better habits without any distraction, and that distraction is adding more to the existing clutter. Having little has become a blessing in disguise because I don’t crave new things as much anymore.
Here are just some few of the many realistic tips that I think can help us get into action now:
First, ask yourself. Do I spend excessively on something? Am I spending enough of my money for the right cause? Am I hoarding things that I bought instead of using them?
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you can’t tell where you last put a particular thing? Do you have a few boxes or containers of stuff you “will” use? Do they contain home decorations you haven’t used in ages or clothes and shoes you can’t fit anymore? Then, it is time to declutter or spring clean if you must. I understand the attachment that goes with it especially if you buy them with your own money, but in all honesty, why would one put a valuable item somewhere where one can’t reach them?
So much of my life I have spent thinking, throwing something away would be a ‘waste’ of my money, instead of thinking of it as a waste of my space. I have realised I use less than half of my stuff. Seeing all the things I’ve bought that went to waste made me want to change my bad habits. However, instead of dwelling on my past purchases, I try to spend less and declutter once in a while. The ways to do this is are to recycle and donate things that are still in good condition to the less fortunate.
Set your priorities
Being a minimalist is not about giving up the world entirely. It’s not that we should stop living comfortably, but to be mindful about what we buy.
It’s easy to get carried away with sales and buying things we don’t need. Remember: it’s about having less and doing more. Don’t get me wrong – I still treat myself to shopping if I deserve it, but I do it in moderation. For a person who used to love shopping, I am happy to say that retail therapy is no longer a pastime – I don’t crave that shopping fix as much as before. Doing less shopping allowed me to travel despite being a student with a limited budget.
A friend of mine shared a tip when she feels guilty about shopping too much. She donates half or more of the same amount she spent on shopping to a charity. It’s the most effective way to curb your shopping habit. I’ve tried this method and not only have I managed to curb my shopping habit; I’ve channelled the guilt after spending excessively to a good cause. It’s so easy to donate online nowadays so there’s no excuse not to. This beautiful reminder about giving should motivate us more, knowing that our good deeds will for sure be rewarded. Therefore, a believer will never be afraid of losing worldly possessions and become more generous.
“The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.
“Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reminders [of it] or [other] injury will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” – Surah Al-Baqarah: 261-262
Invest more money, energy and time on your passion. You will have more time to discover what you’re good at.
Share the benefits of simplicity with the people around you
For shopaholics, cutting back can be a long and difficult process. Think about people who are happy with having less. Think about how you would like to be in that position – by having less and doing more. Be an advocate of change, to those people around you and show that you are happy, even if you are not “on-trend”.
I admittedly used to be a shopaholic back before I rediscovered my faith. I was short-sighted and didn’t save up for better things in the future. Shopping was a way for me to escape when in a reality I was doing more damage to my heart than I was fulfilling it.
Now, I’ve realised my life has become lighter in a sense that, I don’t need material things to keep me happy. Along the way, I’ve made the most genuine group of friends who appreciate me for who I am, and not what I have.
This minimalistic lifestyle also appeals to me because someone close to me has suffered from the burden of debt and I am traumatised by the impact it has had on their family. It hindered this person from focusing on the important things in life and our ultimate purpose our devotion to Allah (SWT). We become the victims of our own actions, but everything happens for a reason. Allah only takes away to give more. He always takes away what was about to crush our heart and replace it with something even better. In a sense, He saved this person from being beholden to material wealth.
This reminds me of how the companions of Rasulullah (PBUH) were so afraid of the worldly riches and gave most of their wealth to charity. Their high taqwa in Allah and their strong belief in the hereafter motivated them to take such measures.
Of course, it is a shallow mindset to consider all rich people are heedless as it all depends on what one keeps in the heart. It’s not wrong to want to be rich but chasing the world shouldn’t be our highest priority. As we don’t forget our purpose in life and we continue to remain humble, insha Allah, we’ll live a good life.
One of the most memorable quotes that I still hold to this day is
Keep the dunya in your hands, and not in your heart
This consumerism culture is one of the reasons why there is an economic inequality i.e. a huge wealth disparity between the rich and the poor. One of the pillars of Islam, giving zakat or alms, alleviates this problem. It is only up to us to give and be less selfish. It’s high time to reconsider our lifestyle and find fulfilment in something more meaningful and anything that makes us closer to Him.
Will you join me in achieving better goals for this new year?