According to the psychologist Maslow, safety is the second most important of all our requirements after our psychological needs are met. It plays a huge part in our five tier hierarchy of needs, meaning we must have a sense of personal security, feel content within our employment, confident in the level of resources we have, safe in the knowledge that our health is in check and lastly- that our home is safe. All of these boxes need to be ticked for us to feel happy.
While it sounds extreme to say that minimalism could help you to live a safer life, when other lifestyles also provide security- there are many ways in which it can shield you than a more consumerist approach to living, here’s why…
Personal safety: The simplest explanation of all is that you have less stuff to trip on or fall over. Clutter is the easiest way to create dangers in your home. If you are someone who is always taking a tumble or scraping yourself on things in your house, it’s likely because there is too much stuff encroaching on your walking space. Less stuff means less bangs, trips and bruises. Simple.
The safety of children: While your personal safety is important, so is the safety of the people who live with you, especially small children as they are accident prone at the best of times. Think about those occasions when you have been distracted because you were shopping on your phone or dealing with physical objects- such as tidying away toys. Has your child ever injured themselves because your focus was on something other than them? No judgement here, but if this is the case- it proves that the organisation of existing things or the seduction of new items has led to a decrease in mental sharpness. Less stuff and a decreased yearing for belongings will make you more present in the moment and a safer parent as a result.
Financial safety: Spending less on things likely means you are able to put more to one side at the end of the month from your paycheck. As your savings grow- you increase your safety net should the worst happen. With this nest egg, you can retire early, pursue the job of your dreams or simply have some money to keep the wolf away from the door if an unexpected charge comes your way such as a new boiler or significant car repair to name a couple of the big hitters.
Safety from addictive behaviours: If you have had issues (whether diagnosed or not) in the past with shopping addiction, this will make you less likely to fall back into those old habits again. If you keep the ‘why’ in your mind every time you reach for your phone or head of the shops, minimalism can be used as a tool to deter you from spending.
Safety from debt collectors: One of the many reasons people venture into minimalism is to pay off any existing debts they may have. If you don’t owe anyone anything, you know that every bill that comes through your door is one you can afford and are anticipating. Not a credit card statement after an extravagant spending spree, a mortgage request for a home you can’t afford or student loan repayment that could send you overdrawn and result in the bailiffs knocking at your door.
Involvement in wider safety measures: If you spend less time on your stuff, this frees you up to spend more time on other things. If you are concerned with the safety of the area in which you live, you can become an active member of your Neighbourhood Watch or volunteer at your local school to help to protect the safety of the children who go there. To feel safe sometimes you have to widen your perspective and minimalism will afford you the time to invest in your community.
Safer mental space: Clearing away the physical and mental clutter will encourage a safer way of thinking. You will be more mindful and have fewer negative thoughts about others which can potentially send you on a downward spiral. Why? Because you will no longer crave what people have and see pieces for what they are- just a bunch of stuff. Envy is a dangerous mindset and relieving yourself of this by seeing what you already have and not what you haven’t will make your internal dialogue a much safer and more enjoyable personal podcast.