Somebody posted a picture the other day that asked, “If you could write a note to your younger self, what would you say in only two words?” They tagged me in this post, likely because of my favorite interview question. After a series of questions, I like to ask people to summarize themselves in one word. I realize that it can seem narrow-minded to ask a question like that, but it’s interesting to see what people come up with.
Less can often be more. Many stammers when asked a question like that, but some have an answer right away. It’s your chance, in one word, to tell us exactly what you think of yourself.
When posed the question of what I would say in a note to my younger self, I thought for about three seconds before posting the following: People>things.
I face an assortment of questions about being a minimalist, and most have come from those “closest” to me. Sometimes it is an inquisitive nature, but sometimes it is more of an aggressive nature as if I intend to derail a way of life. The fact is, while “minimalism” has a name, we could call the opposite “maximalism.” There has simply been a one-word label applied to the minimalist way of life. This, so people can have an easier way of finding the way of life. Perhaps we should coin the term “maximalism,” to call attention to those who question the minimalist.
I guess many “maximalists” could also be called “people who put too much emphasis on possessions” or “those who spend too much money on garbage.” The funny thing is, there are many of these people and we all know them or may even be one. If this is your way of life, there is nothing wrong with it. It’s how you choose to live.
My journey into a minimalist lifestyle wasn’t because I hated stuff. It was because I hated the emphasis that myself and others were putting on stuff. I finally woke up one day and realized that people were more important than things. I realized that memories live in my head and heart, not in my stuff. Also, I realized that if forced to choose between being surrounded by nice stuff or nice people, I would choose nice people.
People > things.
Since then I’ve tried to put a greater emphasis on my relationships with everybody. This includes people I admire and don’t admire as much. The ones I like are easy to associate with, that’s why I like them. The people I don’t, obviously it’s a bit harder. But, what can they teach me? What can I take away from them? If nothing else, it may be that I know how to never treat other people because of the way they treated me or the people around them.
So that’s what I’d tell my younger self. I’d tell myself that people are greater than things. I’d say “Wake up, you damn fool.” Of course, without the way I lived before, I may not have thought to pursue the opposite. I tried the approach of having a lot of nice things. It was okay and all, but it was a lot of things to manage, maintain, replace, repair, and carry around during my travels across the country. Now I have less, but many relationships that are better than they ever used to be. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. All we can ever ask for is better. So decide what’s more important, the phone or the person in front of you. There’s no wrong answer, but it’ll tell a lot about where your values are.
Use minimalism to help you value people over things. Check out Minimalism: Because Less Is More.