Mirka Čechová is a Slovak minimalist. She set up the Minimalisti.sk blog and through it spreads the idea of a minimalist life approach. Minimalism is defined as the conscious decision-making and elimination of unnecessary things from life, so that we can make more space for what makes us really happy.
1. When did you become a Minimalist and why?
I cannot recall a date or a significant event that would draw a timeline between my old self and me becoming a minimalist. 2013 was a year full of tasks and projects. We were moving our new family from a three-bedroom place to a two-room shared with my parents. This was the situation while we embarked on a new adventure of building our own home.
During the move home, I realized that we had a mountain of things we hadn’t used and obviously didn’t need. It struck me how much space the items took and how much money we wasted on them, only for them to be crammed at the back of a wardrobe. This was the moment when we started our first steps of minimalizing.
Nevertheless, after the move, we still had boxes that remained unpacked. Those boxes would still be there if I hadn’t moved on and either sold them or thrown them away. The construction site kept me extremely busy, but I did not want to compromise my quality time with my son and husband. So, in order to keep doing normal activities with my family, I focused on the basics.
I had to re-evaluate what I wanted to invest my time, energy and money in. Since then I try to think more consciously about what to let into my life — and into my house.
2. Can you name 3 main attributes of minimalism?
That is a difficult question. I am not fond of definitions about what minimalism is and what it is not…It is different for everyone, we all are unique, we lead different lives, have different priorities and values, and love different things. It is important to find your ideal proportion and balance, whatever you do.
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom.
For me the essence of Minimalism is to be able to do what I love doing, be around those whom I love and be surrounded by things that I like — and those which I need. To forgo things and activities which are not necessary requires an important skill: to differ between “want” and “need.”
My purchases are intentional and not impulsive.
3. What are the benefits of adopting a minimalist lifestyle?
For me the biggest benefit is freedom. The freedom to do things my way. To allow myself to do what I enjoy doing and what makes me happy. I will explain in a few examples:
If I need something, I am not looking for it for ages amongst all the other stuff laying around — not being used and not giving me any joy. (We still have more things at home as we need but luckily I still know where to find what I need).
I do not regret if I don’t buy something, don’t go anywhere or don’t do something only because it is a trend, or because others have it or do it. Simply I don’t have to — by choice.
I don’t feel guilty that I don’t do enough for myself when I find unused sports equipment or other hobbies supplies.
I don’t need to think too long about matching clothes as every piece can be combined and matched with each other.
4. Have Minimalists more control over their lives?
In a certain way, yes. They have control over their decisions. One start behaving like a minimalist when one’s decisions are based on intention, purpose and consciousness: do I possess too much, do I pursue too many activities, do I chase after something all the time. And then you say to yourself “enough” and look for a way out.
Maybe you are sorting out your wardrobe and cupboards or declutter your desk if there is no room left for a cup to be put down. Then you start thinking about your life, your possessions and activities and if you want to change something you need to start acting differently and let go of things. You need to resist buying products that tempt you, but you don’t need. Advertisement and marketing are present everywhere so you will need to make some tough choices.
Making small decisions will lead you to making big decisions and manifesting them in your life: What job would you enjoy doing, where do you want to live, whom do you want to spend time with what would you like to have, what kind of person you want to be.
Minimalism is a path and a never-ending process.
5. Is Minimalism counter-cultural? Society promotes consumerism and idealizes celebrities and luxury.
We have a long way ahead of us. Some people are aware of the consequences that consumerism brings with it and are conscious about their environment and their community. But many people still live in ignorance or denial.
Yes, the life of celebrities and luxury might look very appealing to some, but the reality is not always as rosy as it looks. Big assets are not everything. Not having financial worries and live in a luxury does not guarantee bliss and happiness. It can simplify life but also it can complicate it. It is human nature to want more. We are never satisfied. We look for more once we get what we want…Real happiness is somewhere else; we need to look for it within.
All enterprises depend on consumerism. The more we buy the more profit can they record in their books. But making profit does not always mean that the working conditions of their employees improve or that profit is evenly shared. We all know this, but most of us keep our eyes shut in front of this reality and carry on buying what the media and marketing messages imply we need to make us happy.
6. Is minimalism for everyone? Or does it require certain maturity and affluence (quality instead of quantity)? Families on low income have special relations to their possessions.
As I see it, it is more about our approach to life, rather than money.
It is not about how much we have in a bank account, but about what do we spend it on. I know families on lower incomes that compensate for their social status by buying things, but I also know families that are content with what they’ve got and live modest, simple and happy life. It is all about priorities and values. I really love this quote: “We are not that rich that we can afford to buy cheap things”.
There is no need to buy a product only because it is cheap or discounted. Spending money for a good quality product saves more in the long run, because it will serve you well and its life is much longer.
7. Is there room for minimalism at working environment? Can management apply some minimalistic tools at work?
Definitely. Anything from design to workplace equipment to company’s dress code. Zero waste policy to working methods that simplify work processes and increase productivity. Being efficient with resources and materials, using efficient software and applications that save time and energy, having an efficient reporting system in place etc. are all big tools.