‘The Minimalists: A Documentary About The Important Things‘ is a documentary about questioning how we live our lives and where we find happiness.
The documentary reasons that consumerism can actually only provide a very limited happiness. But beyond essential items, the products and services and we consume become a prison. The documentary then goes on to encourage us to escape from this trap of consumerism.
The premise of the documentary questions where we seek sources of happiness and whether they are valid sources of happiness. This same question is raised in Buddhism, but the question is phrased as: where do you seek refuge? Typically we seek happiness or refuge in:
- Clothes, possessions, consumerism in general.
- A healthy diet and regular exercise.
- A strict ‘cleanse, tone, and moisturise’ regime.
- A good ‘work-life’ balance.
They are not true sources of happiness because they only give us some small pleasure or short-term happiness. The message that these things do not offer true happiness runs in parallel with the Buddha’s teachings.
But the documentary does force us to question what we are doing with our lives, how we spend our lives, what we buy, and how we interact with others. These questions are very important in the context of the documentary and the Buddha’s teachings. In Buddhism we might:
- Meditate on our precious life, to reflect on how we can avoid spending investing our time in things that we do not really want or need.
- Question our motivation with what we buy, what are we really trying to achieve through the purchase?
- Meditate on karma when considering how we interact with others, particularly the actions of speech.
If I can give you one takeaway,
one thing to bring away from all of this, it will be this:
love people and use things, because the opposite never works.