BY LUKE HARRIS STAFF WRITER
We are always hungry for more. Inflatable tube men lure our eyes to cars we can’t afford while radio jingles burn into our brains product deals we don’t need. American life is constantly being calibrated to feed us a desire for more. It will never be satisfied.
We’re consistently being sold products that we don’t need. Socializing is centered around proving how much fun we are having online, rather than actually having fun offline.
The need for more makes us feel like we are in a race. If you’re not going full steam ahead, then you’re going backwards. We are always looking at those ahead of us and wondering how we can catch up.
Competition can be healthy, but what we have become accustomed to is anything but. The racing mindset makes an enemy out of pausing. No one stops running because they’re too afraid of getting lost in the dust behind those who didn’t stop.
So we keep striving for more, leaving our bodies unsustainably frail and in need of rest that we won’t let them have. Living life like a race isn’t the answer. Yet we continue to frame our world this way.
Sadly, we’re running towards a finish line that we’ll never reach. Whether that goal is being rich, famous or some other label of “success,” it’s not going to leave you eternally blissful.
No one said it better than Jim Carrey: “I think everyone should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see it’s not the answer.” Carrey, after achieving his dreams of comedy superstardom in the mid-1990s, dealt with horrible streaks of depression. He is living proof that the mindset of maximizing your life can still leave you feeling small.
The good news is that we don’t have to keep living this way. We can switch to minimalism.
You’ve probably heard about it. Talk revived earlier this year when a second documentary was released on Netflix about the subject. For the purposes of this article, think about minimalism as a lifestyle where everything you do and own has a valuable purpose.
Three extra pairs of shoes you never wear? No. Flipping through Instagram every five minutes only to see the same photos? Nope. Consistently buying McDonald’s instead of cooking the food in your fridge? Not anymore.
Living minimally in this context means to live essentially. You must be making carefully crafted decisions about what matters to you in order to declutter the stresses brought by an overly-consumerist mindset. It’s not a lifestyle you can attain while stuck in a never-ending race.
The economy we live in thinks “bigger is better.” If the Big Mac can teach you anything, it’s that bigger isn’t always better. We need to put our energy into high-quality products instead of cheap ones. Letting consumers know that they are buying durable products will allow them to greatly appreciate the essential nature of their business.
Embracing minimalism may also have great implications on our environment. When people stop needlessly consuming cheap materials, pollution could slow down. If we collectively choose to use and reuse materials with a minimalist mindset, then product waste will drop too.
Make no mistake, the problems of climate change and larger pollution trends will need other massive solutions. But minimalism can be a keystone in the archway of change.
Above all of the economic and environmental issues, living a minimalist life is the best way to maximize life. By reducing the clutter in your life, you can feel less stressed, reduce overstimulation and stop decision fatigue. Minimalism can have an amazing effect on your mood and allow your mind to focus on the things that matter.
Dare yourself to stop racing, look around, and ask yourself: Why was I running in the first place? Once the dust settles, you’ll realize that where you are now isn’t so bad.
The constant desire for more will always leave you feeling empty. Be present, be now and be you. That’s enough for a good life.