mnmlist: minimalist fun

On Twitter yesterday, Brandon asked:

As a minimalist, what do you do for fun? That’s the only trouble I foresee should I decide to embrace the minimalist ideal.

This brings up a common myth about minimalism — that we have empty lives, and can’t do anything fun because we try to eschew consumerism and all the spending that entails.

The purpose of entertainment

A brief discussion first: what is entertainment, and why do we need it?

Entertainment is usually meant to distract, to make us feel that our lives are exciting — distractions such as TV, movies, carnivals, going shopping, playing video games, drinking and partying. And while these each have other merits (a good film is a work of art), often they serve to distract us from work or other difficulties.

Unfortunately, this fun is only temporary, and often empty. And as soon as we’re off that temporary high, we must find a new high from entertainment, ad nauseum.

I believe if you find contentment, you don’t need entertainment. That’s not to say you’d never watch TV or good films or go to parties or theme parks … but you wouldn’t need them for entertainment. You wouldn’t go shopping to fill an empty space in your life, to fill the need of finding happiness, because you’re already content and don’t have that empty space or need.

Finding contentment is learning to appreciate what you already have, learning the concept of having enough, learning to enjoy the simple things. It isn’t an overnight thing, but as you become more conscious of it, you’ll find more contentment and need to be entertained less.

Minimalist fun

So the question remains: what do I do for fun?

I’ve made space for what’s most important to me, by eliminating the unnecessary. That’s what minimalism is really about, at its core, not emptying your life.

What’s important to me: family, writing, reading, running. And so my fun is finding time for those four things.

Some examples of things I’ve done in the last week for fun:

  • Had a small family get-together for my daughter’s birthday
  • Went on a walking date with my wife, eating near the beach and walking to get coffee & watch a movie
  • Ran three days a week with my sister
  • Worked out with my nephew, doing full-body weight exercises
  • Read with my kids
  • Took short walks with my daughter
  • Read a novel, magazine, online articles
  • Had lunch with my mom & sister
  • Helped my mom in her garden
  • Wrote blog posts and some of my new book
  • Rode my bike to meet a friend for coffee

Those are just a few examples, but you get the idea. They’re not everyone’s idea of fun, but I enjoy them.