It’s strange, I really don’t feel like I can call myself a minimalist yet, but for the sake of a short title, I’ll go with it for now. (After all, there is quite the spectrum to minimalism, isn’t there?) In fact, this might be more appropriately called “How to Talk to an Aspiring Minimalist (or Anyone Who Has a Dream)”
I’ve had several conversations lately where people come away feeling confused, inspired, upset, or excited about implementing it themselves. I love leaving people with an emotional reaction to my underway transition, but what I can’t seem to grasp is the people who insist on speaking down to me about it. So, here’s a few tips on how to talk to someone who’s making a lifestyle change, no matter whether it’s minimalism or frugality or whatever floats their particular boat.
Rule #1: don’t mock or needlessly criticize. First of all, we’re not doing this for you anyways. We’re doing it for ourselves and our families because we’ve deemed this to be an important process. I know it’s different. I know some people get defensive about their way of life – we’re not making this change as a comment about you. We’re making this change because we want to make this change.
Ask the Right Questions.
Examples of questions that tend to miss the mark: “That’s impossible. What makes you think you can do this?” “Do you need money? Is that why you’re doing this?” ” [Rolls eyes] You like small houses? But where would you put all your stuff?”
Better questions would center around what about the process of changing your lifestyle is most intriguing to you (for me, it’s a weird mix of environmental, financial, and personal reasons, but mostly, I just love the way I feel without so much stuff). Ask the person making the lifestyle change what their ultimate goal is and don’t criticize it. In an ideal world, you might consider this lifestyle for yourself, even briefly. To each his own.
Give it a Chance.
This is my greatest point. Listen to the dreamer, consider what they’re saying and what makes them passionate about what they’re seeking. Would that be a good life choice for you? No? Then consider if there are things you can learn from this. Nothing? Then allow them to have their passion, acknowledge it, and move on to your own.
Many people, when they find out about my intentions to continue downsizing, feel that they need to justify their current lifestyles. Stop doing that. If it opens up a larger issue in your own life, then consider making a switch yourself. I get this message a lot: “yes, that’s fine and all, but someday you’ll need a bigger house for all your stuff, like ours. You’ll need a basement, and an outbuilding, and extra cars, too. Just like us.”
I’m not afraid to admit: maybe someday I will. But do I need that now?
For the Dreamers.
Don’t always preach to an unwilling audience. You can’t always gather a random group of 20 people and expect them to all love your ideal lifestyle. But here, on a niche blog in the corner of the internet, you can gain momentum. You can find like-minded people who will know how to talk to you. And they’ll inspire you to move further into the life you’ve always dreamed of. Go find them.