22 Jun 2016

Minimalism Could Be Your Missing Link To Great Wealth and Contentment

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I came across this BBC picture article on minimalism recently, and it kept me thinking if Minimalism is what is needed in "poor countries" like Nigeria, to become wealthy both as a nation and people.

My dad told me that our moral rot and infrastructural decay as a country began after the oil boom of the early 70s. He said that the government of Gowon was advised by Chief Awolowo to invest the new found wealth in infrastructure, but the then head of state preferred to dole out cash benefits to top government functionaries and civil servants, and increased salaries for everyone.

He said to me that people then began acquiring electronics and other material things. Villagers no longer wanted to be farmers, and incidences of house robbery skyrocketed (-it is funny though how thieves rarely rob houses nowadays to steal TV sets and Sound systems, unlike before).


Today, about 45 years after, I ask, "Is Nigerians' craze for imported 'goods' and unbridled appetite for 'materialism and consumerism' (especially as we are no longer a 'producing economy',) the reason for our poverty?"

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Where and when do we cross the line between 'Needful Possessions' and Materialism?

It makes me reevaluate the Credicoins' business model of wanting to help people achieve individual successes in their lives by their acquisition of lacking but needful material possessions. Though needful, the question is this: When do people cross the line in acquiring material possessions that are NEEDFUL?

If I have a family, I need to have a house, and possibly a car. Then I work hard, make some money and buy those.
But when I now think two cars are not enough for us because myself and my wife, and now our teenage first son too, need to go to different places at the same time...have we crossed the line of materialism?

If I do everything humanly possible to make tons of money just to have three houses and the latest gadgets, am I covetous?

What is minimalism?
From the little research I made, Minimalism is a lifestyle that aims to help people put into focus the most important things in life, and by extension invest in those as against (acquiring) material possessions, certificates, and other clutter that is distracting to the real essence of existence.

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Some people have made it a sort of religion, dogma where you MUST live with less than 100 things including not owning a car, television, home, not having a career, etc. Well, that is not what I am referring to, necessarily.

Minimalism is also a modern style of Art. It comprise geometric shapes in simple arrangements and lacking any decorative or dynamic flourishes. 
And I found some great artistic expressions in the Artsy minimalism Art page. You can check it out.

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Can Minimalism help solve the world's poverty problem?

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Even if it can, marketers will hear none of it. Research shows that most of our spending and acquiring (of gadgets/phones, clothes, cars,etc) is due to nudging by the myriads of adverts we daily come in contact with. And even if the cost of those commercials is not directly added to the goods being sold to us, salesmen do- that I am sure of!

I have always believed the poor are not only those -living below $2- in developing countries like Nigeria, India, Somalia, and so on. And some others too think there are 'urban poor' people. If the rich live more simply, there should be enough to go round.

However (from the spiritual angle of being moderate, contented and avoiding worldliness), I believe minimalism can help us even as the benefits of Minimalism extend beyond eradicating poverty (of cash).

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Credit: Reuters

Where does Minimalism become stinginess?
That is another difficult one. If we are not careful too, we might cross the line to the other extreme. In fact in Japan, the government has battled deflation due to many Japanese being minimalists and chronic savers. And every economy needs spenders, not just savers.

All in all, Nigeria, and perhaps other developing countries, need more minimalists. It might not immediately help the economy, but it will curb our insatiable lust for buying and acquiring things upon things, organising parties to show off or oppress others, among others.
Our lives will be enriched thereby as Minimalism might just be our missing link to great wealth and contentment.



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