Lately, I find myself reevaluating the people with whom I choose to spend my time and energy.
Minimalism is funny like that.
What started as a quest to eliminate clutter and reduce stress, has turned into a full blown lifestyle adjustment. And not surprisingly, my relationships are in for a tune-up as well.
Minimalism isn’t about eliminating things just for the heck of it.
It’s a way to clear the fog, so that we can better focus on whatever brings us real meaning and fulfillment.
In relationships, I used to subscribe to the “more equals better” philosophy. The more connections, contacts, and networks I had, the more fulfilled I was supposed to be.
But it didn’t happen.
Relationships require time, focus, and energy – and there’s only so much we can invest before we become burnt out, and lose all sense of meaning and fulfillment.
Or worse, we unwittingly start adjusting our behaviour, to the point where we no longer invest in the relationships that really matter.
Ask anyone “who’s most important to you”, and the answer invariably includes family and friends.
Too often, though, our actions belie our words.
We say that family and friends are important, but we spend so much time working that we never see them. Perhaps we spend mealtimes interacting with our devices instead of actual people. Or, we repeatedly blow off important events in favour of things that ultimately are of no great value.
Sometimes, our meaningful relationships become overshadowed by acquaintances or even strangers. Like when we rush to respond to a Facebook comment, but we divert an incoming phone call from a friend or relative.
Fulfillment comes from many sources, and one of them is through meaningful connection.
When we squander our time and energy on relationships that drain us, we suffer. When we don’t cultivate the important relationships, they suffer.
And when we feel chronically disconnected from those around us, our lives become an endless merry-go-round of seeking fulfillment by any means possible – often, in the wrong places, such as bonding through gossip and drama, or a shared dislike of another group of people.
Disconnection breeds discontent. And discontent fuels unhealthy, unhelpful behaviours. Like narcisissm. Hostility. Bullying. Manipulation. Fearmongering. Hate speech. Addiction. Violence.
Minimalism means that we can focus on cultivating and maintaining the relationships that genuinely fulfil us, and bring the feeling of connection that we all seek. And, when we experience genuine connection, we feel fulfilled.
This fulfillment fuels healthy, productive behaviours – like empathy, understanding, compassion, respect, open-mindedness, and kindness.
Qualities that our society needs now, more than ever.
To quote two of the greatest inspirations for my own minimalist journey: “value people, not things, because the opposite never works”.