The Ultimate List of 8 Ideas to get your (Indian) Family to go Minimal!

Love being a minimalist & want your partner, friends & family to get on board? Do you face resistance or ridicule with your minimalist lifestyle? Need help getting your loved ones to go minimal? Read on!

This article is part of a series of posts on @mnmlgrlblog on Instagram & related to #minimallife & culture

Who’d heard of minimalism until a few years ago? I hadn’t and neither had my family. The term ‘minimalism’ was a completely foreign concept to me, let alone my family. My family considered minimalism as a trend, a passing phase and regarded it as something I took up on a whim.

In India, society expects us to keep up the appearances associated with people of our stature – affluent people live a certain way, the middle class have certain possessions and the lower class make do with what they have. So, when I began practicing minimalism there was naturally a lot of resistance from my family. You see, I’m from a middle-class family in Mumbai so the thought of minimizing the few (or so they thought) possessions was sacrilegious! They couldn’t fathom why a girl who was doing so well in life would want to live with less. There were also the usual concerns that people might perceive you as *shudder* "poor or going through financial hardship". I soldiered on the path of minimalism convinced of the fact that it will help and that my family will eventually get on board.

I knew going all guns blazing would backfire on me immediately. Instead I applied the following 8 tips to get my family to go minimal.

1. Lead by example & Have no expectations. I said nothing. Preached nothing. I simply continued being minimal. In the beginning, they noticed no visible changes in my life because all I did was stop collecting things and reuse old stuff or make do with what I already owned. It wasn’t until my parents noticed how much less I was spending each month that they finally acknowledged my efforts to minimize. My parents were never averse to curb their spending, they even encouraged it. So when they noticed that adopting minimalism in my life influenced my shopping habits, they began slowly encouraging it. Pretty soon they were cheering me on when I tried to upgrade existing furniture or bring out our vintage heirlooms for room décor instead of buying something new. Be 100% you, stay authentic & for the love of God, do not preach coz everyone will run in the opposite direction the moment they see you! LOL!

2. Remind them of the familiar. I reminded them delicately that minimalism was old wine in a new bottle. The fact that minimalism was a mixture of living frugally and focusing on quality instead of quantity reminded them of the good old days. Somehow, going minimal was the ultimate homage to their lifestyle which ensured that there was food on the table and I go the best education, even when money was tight. What helped my parents accept minimalism was also that my brand of minimalism involved a lot of DIY, which reminded them heavily of the Indian concept of Jugaad!

3. Reduce risk. Emphasize that they won’t lose anything by minimizing, instead they might gain something. This is something I emphasized from the get go! I told my parents something I later Instagrammed on @mnmgrlblog - “All that clutter used to be money”. When my parents heard me say it, it took them a moment to accept it and internalize it.

4. Make it about them. I knew no matter what, if my family didn’t see the advantage of going minimal, it is likely that they will not take it up. So, I began spending more time with my family and put thought and effort to create personalized gifts from what I had lying around. My family loved these gifts and loved the effort that went into making them even more! The fact that they were unique and one of kind was a plus!

5. Start slow & Be patient. With time, believe it or not, my family wanted to try their hand at minimalism! While making the decision to try minimalism was easy, fielding the barrage of questions that followed wasn’t – “Do we need to discard all our possessions and keep only few? Are Sadhu’s minimalists? What should be removed? Is there a specific process to be followed?” etc, etc. I decided that decluttering was the ideal way to introduce the concepts of minimalism and so explained to them the Marie Kondo method of decluttering. We began discarding only those items which we either hadn’t used in six months or things that don’t bring joy. In doing so, my parents only got rid of the excess which was just clutter and not adding anything to our lives. We went room by room, person by person. It was a huge task because we had managed to accumulate a lot of stuff!

6. Have a plan. Decluttering was a task but it was fun once we got into it. What wasn’t fun was deciding what to do with after. Having an outline of what to do when you declutter will go a long way. We decided to reuse a lot of stuff we decluttered out. The old clothes were turned into cleaning rags, we fixed up and began using our old furniture, we even sold a few things off.

7. Make shopping an event. Minimizing possessions does come down to this one thing – buying less and buying better. We no longer shop in isolation. We no longer shop just for ourselves. We make shopping an event where we discuss what to buy, with a clear picture of how it will improve our lives. Now, instead of buying fancy things all the time, we shop occasionally and don’t consume for the sake of consuming. We buy only when we know there is a specific purpose it will help us with – so no more trendy clothes, no fancy gadgets. We also try and find alternatives to readily available options – we try to get clothes stitched when we can, we try to buy second hand, we try to shop local. It may not always make economical sense in the moment but it makes sense to us for us as a family in the long run.

8. Accept & Let go. Be patient with them& stay firm on your life choices too.

Not everyone in your life has to be your clone. Not everyone has to do what you do. Not everyone will be on board, not everyone will agree with your approach to life and that is okay. Not everyone wants to get rid of excess. Not everyone wants to live with less. Not everyone has to! I have accepted the fact that I cannot control how anyone perceives me. Some might think I’m old fashioned or even cheap because I don’t want to spend money to buy useless things to impress them. I’m okay with these outcomes. I’m focused on the fact that I’m no longer a slave to my possessions and no longer feel the need to impress anyone. I’m even happier that I'm on the minimalism journey with my family.

Most important tip:

TO LOVE MEANS TO ACCEPT THEM AND LOVE THEM JUST AS THEY ARE. Do not let their lifestyle choices come in the way of your relationships. Minimalism is for you. It may not be for everyone.

I hope these tips help you broach the topic of minimalism with your family and even get you on board! Please comment below your experiences of getting your family to go minimal!

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More on Minimal Life & Culture:

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Minimalism & the Indian way of life

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