by Leo Babauta
I’ve only been in New York City for about four days, but I can easily see how it would be tough to even consider minimalism here. Everyone is incredibly busy and rushed, fashion and shopping take center stage like almost nowhere else, traffic and noise reach beautiful crescendos.
Can you be a minimalist in NYC?
You can be a minimalist anywhere. All you need to do is reject consumerism, and learn to be content with little.
New York City seems to force people to have small apartments anyway, but many seem to try to cram years of shopping into the apartment. Instead, allow the constraint of space become a positive thing: have only the essentials, and empty these small spaces of clutter. Learn to make the most of a small space.
Shopping here is an art. But there are other arts to be pursued: the public library here is one of the most amazing tributes to learning I’ve ever seen, for example. The art of reading can be practically free. The art of listening, of being still, of being present with a friend, of walking aimlessly … these are all free.
Fashion seems at the forefront of the minds of many, but that’s all in the mind. I’ve walked around in second-hand jeans and simple T-shirts all day, and no one seems to care. Reject the conformist values, and force people to judge you on your talent, your voice, and your contributions, instead of your clothes.
You can be a minimalist anywhere, because it is a mindset. We are influenced by our environment, but we also create our environment, and we always have a choice. You can slow down, be content with little, and value doing and being over buying.