I am often intrigued by the idea of paring down the material goods in our everyday lives--decluttering our lives of the unnecessary, and embracing only what we truly need. Why, exactly, is minimalism--a style characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity--so important? Minimalism is important because it reminds us that possessions are easy to replace, while our friends and loved ones are not.
Often, we attach such emotional significance to objects that we forget the reason we wanted them in the first place. If a blanket shared with a loved one gets dirty, your memories will not fade if it is stained, because the blanket can be washed. If your mother's favorite handkerchief goes missing, the stories she told you while holding it do not disappear as well. The reason we love things goes deeper than the objects themselves.
We love things because of the stories behind them, the people who gave them to us, and the memories we created in their use. If we love something, we do not actually love the thing itself; we love the way it became special to us.
When you lose your favorite jacket, don't worry so much. The good times you had while wearing it won't suddenly be removed from your memory--they'll still be there inside you. Besides, you can always stop by the store to get another jacket.
In addition to remembering how much we overemphasize the importance of material goods, we are fortunate to be able to readjust our priorities as we see fit.
When we put less of our time and energy into material things, we'll find ourselves spending more time with friends and loved ones. We'll also find ourselves avoiding pointless small talk and lunch dates with people we don't care much about, as we shift our attention to creating memories that matter, and surrounding ourselves with people we truly love. We will put down our phones at dinner. We will walk our dogs more religiously. We will have morning coffee and discuss the newspaper with our spouse or best friend.
The art of minimalism is this: It helps you realize just how much you need in your life to be happy. And, as surprising as it may seem, you'll always need less than you think.