Is there a link between introversion and minimalism? To the extent that being an introvert usually involves minimizing the volume and type of interactions you have with people to conserve energy, it may also naturally lend itself towards a more ‘minimalist’ mindset in general.
I’m not that fond of terms like ‘introvert’ or ‘extrovert’ – it’s all a bit boxy, and no doubt we all have elements of both even when we suppose not. At the end of the day, however, we share common words and all we can do is approximate meanings for something as complex as personality. If we can’t do that, we’re at an real impasse!
I’ll be the first to admit there may be no generalised link at all between personality type and simple living/minimalism/whatever-you-call-it.
It’s just that in my experience, there is. There might be for you too.
It’s not always the case and my personality has resulted in some of the following:
- Hoarding books – not many of which feel they will be leaving anytime soon. I love looking at books, reading them, and knowing they are there.
- I used have about fifteen assorted guitars. Ridiculous. Sold’em.
- Proud owner of a semi-painted Orc and Goblin Warhammer army I have been collecting on and off since I was 15, to which I have recently added more models. If you even know what that is, you’ll know we’re a bit thin on the ground. If my personality was different, I think that army would have been marched out the door long ago. It remains, not as a relic of my past self, but a persistent and alive oddball interest.
I hold onto these things and others because they hold a certain sway over my introverted-leaning self.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
These peculiarities of acquisition (among others) are derived from that dominant introverted side of my personality.
That same side is also responsible for the major questioning of the quality of time/space/money/materiality in my life and how that has driven my interest in simple living.
They all live alongside each other in apparent contradiction.
So what, it’s complicated, it’s life.
We are here to simplify.
Waffle, You See
As an introvert, I hate waffle of any kind. That doesn’t mean I’m not prone to it mind you.
Simple living & minimalism can become a kind of waffle-removal system. You define the waffle(s).
When boiled down, it really means
less stuff = more time/energy/contentment
Is it true?
In my experience it is true, to a point – everyone has their point. I haven’t reached it yet. Maybe we never do. It’s the journey and all that.
For example, I love being alone (not to be confused with loneliness). Years ago I lived alone in a rented garage-room in Dublin, with an extended bathroom on the side. It was self-contained. It was perfect for me, and I loved it it many ways.
It made me question what space is actually used for and how little of it I needed to be content.
It was also a time when I was not happy with many other things in my life. I had too much expenses and outgoings and didn’t like my job or busy-arse lifestyle.
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. Henry Thoreau
It started a chain reaction.
A ‘what the fuck am I doing on this planet?’ kind of moment.
I had no answers and found scarce comfort in the direction my life was heading. Questioning the meaning of the space I lived in was the starting point.
If you are introverted, it may be a big one for you too.
Merriam-Webster online gives this somewhat unreassuring definition of claustrophilia (opposite of claustrophobic):
an abnormal desire for confinement in an enclosed space
It might also imply an unconscious desire to be locked behind bars. Not feeling that to be honest.
I think a more accurate description relates to the use of space in a smaller area. I love small spaces. The efficiency, the warmth, the function.
A smaller space physically limits what you can bring into it, there is a natural order imposed on it. It can be efficient, approaching beauty. A well-designed and used sort of beauty.
It’s probably why I found myself building a Tiny House, and buying a small apartment in Ireland. I bought what I can afford, and have paid off quickly. That has its own obvious benefits.
If you are not naturally good at maintaining order and structure in your living environment (like me), going for a smaller living space can make a real difference.
It often means more time and money for the things that matter too. Less interruptions.
You Really Do Not Like Interruptions
I know I don’t. My concentration gets fazed. FAZED I tell you.
Interruptions are not only limited to people (although they are instigators-in-chief).
Stuff interrupts too. Laptops break, printers stop working, cars/bikes/coffee machines all need servicing. The less unnecessary stuff you have surrounding you, the more optimised life becomes on this front.
Things just start to flow better.
You Have Lots of Interests – Not Many Of Them Involving Socialising or Stuff
Of course it depends on what way you define ‘stuff’ here.
Most of my interests don’t involve much additional stuff – programming, writing, languages, daydreaming.
I’m a polymath without the actual learning. Just a poly I guess. – Louder Minds
More than anything, attempting to live a more minimalist lifestyle has caused me to critically evaluate whether the stuff I have in my life actually serves me and my interests.
If it doesn’t, bye bye now.
It sounds trite, but most of the time we end up serving things we own.
Ask the question. The answer might surprise you.
The Paradox of Choice
I previously wrote about the feeling of being tugged in ten different directions, mostly by myself. Many choices is a blessing, but can also leave one’s mind a bit worn, particularly across longer stretches.
- Having a much smaller wardrobe makes many daily decisions much easier. It also makes maintaining that wardrobe simpler. I love having little choice in the clothes department. It’s counter intuitively liberating.
- Torpedoing the complexity of shopping and cooking meals is another area of major gain.
- If your circumstances allow it, try cycling more, or even ditching the car altogether. No more thinking about exercise, it’s included in transport. Of course ditching the car means compromise, but I’ve been without one for five years now and can’t see myself getting one again anytime soon.
If you have limited energy to devote to decision making, reducing daily cognitive load really helps.
At the end of the day it can be a struggle for introverted people to thrive in an extroverted world.
Simple, slower living is in fact the way people have always lived until the modern era.
Evolution! You might find you are suited to it, you clever monkey.