Nicholas Hallows Curating Meaning Through Minimalism

After our first part on minimalism, the series concludes with a look at Nicholas Hallows, another believer of the thought process.

Nicholas Hallows does his best to live an intentional life with less, and he does not keep the lessons to himself.

On his blog Escaping Excess, he writes about minimalism, mindfulness, and veganism. The blog offers a qualitative guide and a necessary read about how to live an intentional life with less.

Nicholas sat down with Youth Time, to discuss what’s minimalism, and what it is not, how it helped him find a better purpose in life, and why he helps others on similar paths.

In this exclusive interview, he also shares his “Aha” moment of starting the blog back in 2018, and in the last part of this piece, he elaborates how young people can benefit from minimalism in terms of shaping their identity.

Read on for a wonderful story reminding us that a meaningful life mainly stems from the emotional freedom from attachment, and that a lesson learned should be a lesson shared.


It’s Personal

While I have been reading about minimalism and also trying to find my minimalism journey for these first months of 2021, I am constantly wondering what minimalism is really about.

Hence, starting this interview from a more personal angle, I asked Nicholas what minimalism is and what it is not.

While you may have a few answers to this question, he takes us to the very definition of minimalism: being deliberate about what we bring into our lives.

“Some people just want to own very little to make the practicalities of daily life easier; some just enjoy a minimalist aesthetic; others might reduce their consumption for environmental reasons. 

“But if there’s one thing most minimalists have in common, it’s that we are very deliberate about what we bring into our lives,” he initially explains.

Further, he brings into attention the fact that it is difficult to define minimalism because it’s different for everyone: therefore, there’s no right or wrong way to be a minimalist.

For him, minimalism is about curating a life rich in meaning and purpose by eliminating the unnecessary.

“When we are more selective about what we let into our life – whether that’s possessions, relationships, commitments – we have more space for the things that matter the most.”

It’s easier to say what it is more than what it is, he adds, while seeing minimalism as more of a personal lifestyle choice.

“Minimalism is neither a destination nor an answer. Minimalism recognises that owning more stuff does not lead to more happiness, but equally does not expect to reach peak minimalism and suddenly feel enlightened.

“The initial excitement of discovering the -ism and getting rid of all your stuff eventually fades and living with less becomes the norm. 

“There is no more decluttering to do, so you are left with the daily task of deciding how to spend your time.”

That’s the point of minimalism, he believes.

“It’s not really about how much stuff you have, it’s about not letting unnecessary distractions stand in the way of a meaningful life.”


The Significance of Adding Value to Our Lives

Reflecting on his beliefs, Nicholas, who is currently living in the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, says that minimalism is just one aspect of living an examined and intentional life.

Even his moving from the United Kingdom to Malaysia became easier because he hardly owned anything.  

“Its [minimalism’s] power is in uncovering what is important. It asks questions we can use to examine our lives. I never think: ‘What’s the best way to be a minimalist? But Will this add value to my life? How can I get the most from this experience? And What’s the best use of my time today?’.”

On this note, he reminds us: minimalism is not a productivity tool. Sometimes the best use of our time is to do nothing.

“It is not about living with less than we need or enjoy, but living with the number of things for our life at this moment. 

“It helps us realise what we actually need rather than what we think we need – or what advertisers are telling us we need.”

Although there is no right or wrong way to be a minimalist, it’s important to know why you want to embrace minimalism.

“That’s what will provide the momentum and motivation needed when it seems hard or when you’re wondering what it’s all for. 

“Sometimes this ‘why’ is discovered after you start, so do not put it off if minimalism speaks to you.”


Minimalism Equals Freedom

When talking about benefits from minimalism, he highlights the emotional freedom from attachment, as his minimalist journey started with decluttering.

“I accumulated so much stuff throughout my life that it was weighing on my mind. As I lightened my load, I noticed my mind became lighter, too,” he explains.

“When you realise, you can let go of your things and feel fine–if not better–you realise you can also let go of emotions you have been holding onto for years. You discover you don’t need to be attached to anything. It feels like a superpower. 

“Minimalism led me to embrace stoic and buddhist concepts so I’m not as attached to my ego, my thoughts or my expectations. My mind is now far more flexible and resilient than it once was.”

He adds that exercise, meditation, healthier habits, more resilient mental health and meaningful work play much bigger parts in his life now.

“It might not sound like minimalism has anything to do with these things, but it was minimalism that allowed me to wipe the slate clean and curate my life from scratch. 

“So, for me, the biggest benefit of minimalism was being able to find out what was important to me and then build a life based on my findings.”

These are not the only benefits. Even though financial freedom was never something he considered when he started his exploration of minimalism, he acknowledges that minimalism made it possible for him to never struggle to pay bills as he was intentional with his spending.


Young People and Minimalism

Wishing he would have discovered minimalism in his teens, Nicholas has a massage for our Youth Time readers.

“The glorious thing about being young is that you have a lot of time to experiment and start again if you need to. 

“Even as an adult, minimalism has helped me see life as a series of experiments and it doesn’t matter when things don’t go to plan because I know I can just begin again.”

According to him, possibly the biggest benefit minimalism could have for younger people is to do with identity.

“We spend a lot of time in our youth trying to find out who we are and what our place is in this world. We place a lot of emphasis on what others think of us and therefore invest a lot of energy into constructing an image – or brand – of ourselves. Unfortunately, this is often through clothes, possessions and social media presence.”

Whereas, “minimalism helps you realise you are not your stuff, you are not your social media profile and you are not other peoples’ opinion of you.”

“By stripping away these things, we can find out who we really are and what really matters to us. Then, we realise we already have enough and we already have enough.”

Concluding this interview, Nicholas recalls his first blog post went down well, so it gave him the confidence to stick with it.

“I no longer need the blog to stay true to the lifestyle: minimalism has enough value to keep its place in my life.”

He loves writing and lucky for us his fantastic blog is here to stay.

Follow Nicholas Hallows on Twitter.

Liked this minimalism story? 

Check out another piece about Andrew Rocha’s minimalism:

Achieving Success Through Minimalism: An Interview with Andrew Rocha

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