For those who follow The Minimalists blog you will know about the epic world speaking and book tour Joshua & Ryan embarked on in 2014. You may not know that the tour was also a catalyst for in person Minimalist meet up groups in many cities around the globe. The groups meet at regular intervals with guest speakers on topics decided by the group.
The first London one of 2016 was on ‘Minimalism and the Mind’. Dan, one of the group organisers got us all thinking with his frank and deeply personal journey to find minimalism. Ambi, an MSc graduate, had competed her dissertation on the topic of minimalism and it’s psychological benefits. Many members of of the community had been involved in helping with her research. Over 40 people crammed into the basement of The Canvas Cafe just off Brick Lane to hear her speak. There was of course lots to take in, as it was an in depth and qualitative study, but the parts that resonated with me from the talk, and the lively Q&A, were as follows;
- Those who act in a minimalist way (even if they don’t self-identify as such) may be subconsciously behaving in a way to help them cope with “Liquid Modernity”. A psychological theory to explain the state of modern consumer cultures in which change is constant, and being a minimalist enables one to be ready for those changes. E.g. changing jobs, or status, moving cities, or countries, changing trends in culture or media.
- The other subconscious thing we minimalists (and those behaving as such) may be doing is, protecting our psychological states from excess, over consumption, and the bewildering choices available to most of us. By giving ourselves restrictions, of our own making, we make the world easier and simpler to deal with.
- This got me thinking about other ways I have restricted my consumption. For many years I have had strong ethical values towards the clothing I buy, this coupled with being small in size, and knowing the colours that suit me, has highly restricted my clothing choices. It makes clothing shopping easy, in that I rarely do it, and any purchase I make is well considered.
- For many years I have held strong views about who has made the food I eat and what is in it. Although I eat a wide range of food this is restricted to unprocessed items and those not made by certain companies; and don’t even get me started on meat and fish! I hadn’t thought of this practice as a self imposed restriction to make the world easier, but the reality is that supermarket shopping is far easier and quicker if over half the aisles / items are of no interest.
- I was very interested to hear that many people who identify as minimalists often think and act more sustainably in their lives. For me this has been the other way around. I had adopted many minimalist practices for environmental reasons before I had ever heard of minimalism.
- Finally I was amused to hear that many research participants noted that their parents were hoarders, to some degree or another, and this encouraged their minimalism. I could relate to this with parents and in-laws who have certainly influenced me!
For those in London; there is no date set for the next meet up as yet so like their Facebook page (Minimalist.org: London, UK, Local Meetup Group) to get all the updates.