Men and The Trend of Minimalism. Why Men Need Minimalism?

Too many men today live the modern version of “the rigorous life,” which is more accurately referred to as “the stressful life.” Instead of adventure, it is one of overload. Men are linked to their desks and cellphones, a beep or chime away from their next dose of fear. They are consumed by occupations that cause them to buy items they don’t need in order to impress people they don’t care about (or even know). And now they’re paying the price.

Every year, more than six million men suffer from depression. Suicide among men has increased considerably since 2000, and men died by suicide 3.5 times more frequently than women in 2017. One in in five guys becomes addicted to alcohol at some point in their lives. The state of men’s mental health continues to deteriorate.

What else can one feel while running the rat race? Exhausted, hurried, restless, and searching. How do I know this? For years, I ran to keep up with the group. Something had to give while going from a top law school to a top law practice, which resulted in a too-big house and too-little time for much of anything.

What has changed? The weight of it all almost killed me. But I believe I am among the fortunate. When you get close to rock bottom, you have a clear glimpse of your fate. By falling rather than remaining afloat on autopilot, I had the opportunity to reverse direction before it was too late.

What is my safety net? Teeanime discovered minimalism, which gave me the space and time I needed to strive for the things—experiences, relationships, beliefs, and values—necessary to live a satisfied and fulfilling life.

A Stubborn Journey Toward Minimalism

I never found minimalism. My wife introduced it to me often until it stuck. I’m stubborn and like shiny new things. I became defined by what I possessed, not who I was. I rejected my wife’s minimalism escape.

Minimalism was a weird ideology promoted by Spartans and white-space dwellers. It lacked the color and energy contemporary culture, marketing, and social media tout as fundamental to the modern good life.

If I’m honest, the minimalism movement’s Facebook pages, groups, and comment threads showed that women were more into it than men.

Minimalism appealed to me, but its implications threatened my identity as a spouse, father, and working professional. Why settle when society told me to go higher?

These feelings stem from prior gender conventions. They’re outdated, and my wife is my equal partner in all aspects of our marriage, including our financial contributions to the household.

After time, study, and contemplation, I conquered my resistance, trimmed back, and saw the benefits of living with less. I became a better man, husband, father, and professional. I’m not perfect, but I’m more present, aware, and joyful than I was in the rat race.

After my metamorphosis, I think more men need minimalism.

The Dangers of the Hedonic Flywheel

Too many people chase rainbows they’ll never achieve. Trying harder doesn’t make us happier. Each new achievement becomes the benchmark.

We think a house, car, or golf clubs will make us happy, yet they always end in regret. Our happy future doesn’t happen “just if I earn that promotion” or “when I meet the person of my dreams.” The “arrival fallacy,” according to Tal Ben-Shahar, is the erroneous idea that you’ll be happy when you arrive.

We sprint on the “hedonic treadmill” without progress. We adjust and keep looking. The “treadmill” metaphor isn’t complete. Step off a treadmill.

“Hedonic flywheel” describes being caught in the rat race. Pushing a flywheel requires a lot of effort. The flywheel gains speed and generates its own momentum as you push. Stopping requires much effort.

Life on the flywheel of money, goods, and status is dizzying. It circles faster and faster, never reaching happiness and contentment. (tweet)

Minimalism helped me reflect. I found that I still desired “more”—just a different kind. Nearly 100 years ago, a British philosopher prescribed what I needed.

A Life Full of “Zest”

Bertrand Russell was a major 20th-century philosopher. He was suicidal as a teenager in an affluent British family.

Despite despair, he matured. He was surprised to find that many of the wealthiest persons he encountered were also the unhappiest. He tried to understand this. Russell published The Conquest of Happiness in 1930, describing the reasons of happiness and misery in life.

Happy people had “zest,” Russell found. “Zest” implies “enthusiasm, excitement, energy and interest.” Russell defined zest for life as vitality, curiosity, adventure, and enthusiasm. Russell says, “What hunger is to food, zest is to life.”

Looking back, zest was the missing ingredient in my humdrum life. Days dragged as years flew. I lived through a screen more than appreciating the actual world. Ambition and consumption masked alternative options.

Minimalism helped me realize what I was missing.

We downsized as a family. We downsized, closed our offices, and went virtual. This gave me time and space to enjoy more outdoor activities and rekindle my enthusiasm for life. I lived more zestfully and never looked back.

My struggles are shared by others. Many men are overworked, anxious, and drifting. Society’s expectations make them tired. They view minimalism as a solution yet lack the resolve to modify their lifestyles.

I hope my mistakes can help ladies deal with these challenges. If my stubbornness is any indication, and considering the alarming increase in mental health disorders among men, a message directed at men is essential.

Change is hard. From experience. I can declare with certainty that the only way off the hedonic flywheel is to embrace minimalism. After regaining your footing, you’ll realize that nothing you were chasing will make you happy.

You’ll realize, possibly for the first time, that life’s little pleasures bring joy.