Minimalism is a conscious attempt to reduce the cognitive load of the world around us. By reducing our stock of the unnecessary we can get to a point where the things we own add to our lives rather than drain them away.
Anything that demands our attention reduces our ability to think about other things, and yet it’s all too easy to see our supply of attention as infinite; the intangible costs of our possessions often remain invisible.
But what about the tangible costs? What is the cognitive impact of the things we spend money on? As practical a step as downsizing might be, it’s all too easy to consider its benefits in the abstract. We think that a simpler, more frugal life is a good thing but what does that really mean?
Owning things can diminish our ability to think about more meaningful pursuits, but having to find the money to pay for things we don’t even care about is much worse. That cycle of staying still is all-encompassing. If we don’t stop to re-evaluate then a substantial proportion of our thoughts and actions are perpetually committed to worthless cost.
Reducing that cost brings huge benefits. The work we do is for something we want; the things we pay attention to are meaningful. As much as we believe we want to scale up, live bigger, sometimes what we really need is to scale differently, reallocate our resources; manage our costs.