I find myself discussing minimalism more often recently. When the topic comes up, the conversation usually gravitates towards the struggle (or success) of removing clutter from the garage, junk drawer, or desk by donating or trashing whatever has been accumulated over the years. Getting rid of excess possessions can be extremely freeing when you live in a hyper-consumerist society. However, I find that this activity has diminishing returns. I call this practice minimal materialism, because I think minimalism is a philosophy that extends beyond the things we own.
I consider myself a subscriber to the philosophy of minimalism, so I try to find ways it can influence other aspects of life. One success I've had in this is interpersonal conversation. Minimalism in this realm means listening more actively, avoiding interrupting, and choosing your words thoughtfully. I apply minimalism here for several reasons:
- Less interruption. When you practice minimalism, you let other speak and won't start formulating your reply while they're still talking. This lets you actually hear and understand them.
- People open up more. When someone feels comfortable talking to you (because you're actively listening), they'll tell you more, and you'll build better friendships and professional relationships.
- Less repetition. When you're a better listener, conversations will have less repetition and you'll reach understanding and clarity sooner. Wouldn't it be great if we all communicated more efficiently when it matters?
If you like the values of minimalism, I encourage you to challenge yourself to apply it to more than just the things you own. Good luck!