I read an article that described a list of a bunch of things twenty-somethings should learn (or know) how to do. Among “cook a healthy meal” and “write a resume,” one that stood out to me was: Defend your media choices. I might as well have jumped for joy at reading this! As a twenty-something proponent of the classics, good manners, and general politeness, this statement as a “should-do” was music to my ears! It’s about time we justify our choices!
That being said, I realized that it is important for us minimalists to justify our choices too- not only of our decision to become minimalists, but to take it a step further in fine-tuning the details that make up our lives.
As with media choices, we minimalists should consider depth when answering the question, “Why?” Justification is not simply, “Well I like it,” “It’s cool,” or “It’s the popular thing to do.” It is not enough to have a cliche response to a question. Justification means sharing a well-informed answer. The Merriam-Webster definition of justification is: “an acceptable reason for doing something; something that justifies an action.” While popularity or general “coolness” may seem like an acceptable reason, those concepts are fluid. What is popular one day may not be the next (What’s that word? FAD!). If we base our justification solely on this reasoning, we have fallen for fallacy and hopped on a bandwagon that is bound for a bumpy ride. I believe that we do not give ourselves enough credit to properly formulate our reasoning. When I examine justification, I see a response that embodies not only likes and dislikes, but illuminates the way we live our life.
When it gets down to it, our choices become the framework for future actions. Our actions affect not only ourselves but the people and environment around us. If we do not think much of our choices, our preferences, or even our actions, perhaps we are not fully practicing awareness. I see awareness as a first step in being conscientious and sacrificial. While it is a tough one to master, I genuinely believe we all have the opportunity to develop better awareness to our surroundings in order to contribute to them.
As a minimalist, I see my own awareness grow through reflection in my bullet journal, sharing my ideas with people in conversation, and visually noting the impact of my work. While I am learning to take it easy on myself, I take careful consideration into my successes and failures in hopes to come away from each experience – each choice made – with something positive. I evaluate each choice based on why I made it: my influences both internally (perspective, though process) and externally (social, peers), an emotional appeal, and awareness. I try to use all of these elements in justifying my choices because they balance each other out.
- Internal: a perspective that I already developed or still developing
- External: new perspective shared with me that I value
- Emotional Appeal: a heart-felt reason that enhances sympathy, compassion, or other emotional responses
- Awareness: knowledge of my surroundings: physical environment, people, facts
In addition to each of these elements, I balance them with the results – the impact my choice made in hopes that I will either justify my choice due to a positive experience or chalk it up for improvement.
Justification is often a difficult concept to construct, especially when so many factors influence the way we think. Despite this, it makes for an important exercise because what we say and do define us. Our actions and words stem from the way we think and make observations. Let us make sure we learn the art of justification, not settle on fads to explain our choices, and invest in quality thought/action. Pass it on!