By Leahnora Azad
As the holiday season approaches, we at Minori want to enter this season with mindful intentions. We invite you to The Gift of Abundance, a series featuring our community's stories on finding gratitude, joy, and abundance in the present moment.
We introduce this series with Minimalist Youtuber Deanna Vy who walks us into the intersections of well-being, creativity, and living from the soul. We discuss Deanna's minimalist journey and the crossways of mindfulness, spirituality, self-defined abundance, and intentional gift-giving. She discusses cross-generational scarcity, appreciating the process of self-exploration, and recognizing material attachments.
LA: Tell us about your upbringing, where are you from?
DV: I was born and raised in the Bay Area, specifically San Jose. My parents are first-generation Vietnamese immigrants making me a second-generation American. On a large scale, there is a mindset of scarcity. It's very common in their generation, across our culture, and society. There’s a mindset that says, “we don’t have enough” and it's true. They came with nothing, had no money so they had to work to be where they are and put food on the table.
There’s a constant fear that says "I don’t have enough" and I grew up with that mentality. Even now I’m trying to actively remind myself “No, the world is filled with abundance if I can allow myself to see that”. More and more, I feel it is important to honor my roots, my heritage, and my parents. I feel there’s so much power in that.
LA: What was your initial perception of minimalism?
DV: It was really intriguing. I stumbled on minimalism after watching a documentary on Netflix. The idea of being happy with less resonated with me deeply. Back then, I would not have considered myself a frivolous spender yet that idea of being happy with less was so opposite of the social norm. That was what intrigued me.
Shifting from Excess to Abundance
LA: How has your understanding of a Minimalist lifestyle shifted throughout the years?
DV: I started exploring Minimalism through travel. Backpacking to me seemed to be its ultimate form: everything you need out of your backpack. Minimalist traveling though is very different from an everyday lifestyle. When I tried implementing this lifestyle, it was pretty hard. Over time I had to figure out how to really define Minimalism for myself, for my lifestyle. Now I’ve arrived at a place where I don’t call myself a minimalist. Instead, I try to adopt a mindset of being intentional and thoughtful with what I consume. It’s not just material things but also what I eat, what I put in my body, who I hang out with, anything my senses consume — my gut tells me it would be better to do with less.
"Consumption is the underpinning of our society. My experience in my body and the healing I’ve experienced tells me less is better in general."
LA: How has this shift in your lifestyle shaped your self-concept and your approach to life as a whole?
DV: It is hard for me to distinguish that the changes I experienced in myself and my relationship with others came explicitly from a minimalist perspective. My change resulted from a lot of elements in parallel, where I center myself on the bare essentials. Being open to Minimalism is an invitation to spirituality. There is a lot of overlap between Eastern thought and Minimalism. In my exploration, I naturally gravitated toward yogic philosophies, Hinduism, and eating vegetarian food. All these things helped me get to a place where I just feel whole, more grounded.
Non-Material Demonstrations of Love
LA: What does intentional gift-giving look like to you for this holiday season?
DV: I’m at a place where I’m so grateful, there’s nothing I think anyone can get me that I wouldn’t be able to give to myself. I actually plan on telling my family members not to get me anything. I realized in the past, I ended up not using the things I was gifted. I also feel like I don’t need anything. I feel like all of my needs are met at this point.
I don’t want to participate in the consumerist model of “let's give gifts because it's Christmas" or "let's get together because it’s Thanksgiving”.
We can share the love at any time of year, it doesn't have to be because of a commercial holiday.
My values of intentional gift giving would be aligned in supporting local businesses, contributing to self-care, and mental health. I’m giving you something that will last. Most of the time when gift-giving is done, the value isn’t shared. Usually, we give gifts that are trendy, and then that trend fades. I would gift something I know would be useful in someone’s life. For example, gifting a service that supports a local business like a massage gift receipt. Anything that contributes to their health and longevity.
The Gift of Abundance is Everywhere, Always
LA: How do you witness abundance in your everyday life?
DV: It took a long time for me to reach this place of seeing through an abundant lens. When I look at my life now, it’s hard for me not to see abundance. I don’t live in my ideal preferences but even then I can see: I have a bed, I’m in my own room and space, technology, clothes, and food. I never have to worry about my needs being met, and to me that’s abundance.
I think even within meeting my needs, I have preferences. I have a choice and options to choose from, and that is another level of abundance. The fact that I can choose things that fit my preferences, is the height of abundant living because some people can only meet their basic needs.
If you have the option to choose what you wear, the space you’re in, and what you eat, that is the maximum of abundance to me. To realize how much abundance I have in my life and in every moment took a while. There’s always an opportunity to bring gratitude towards all we have.