Minimalism | 1 of 2
Welcome to the first part of my two-part series on Minimalism. Minimalism has been one of the most interesting new ideas I've had the pleasure to explore. In the most basic context, it's the idea of ridding yourself of the things that don't bring you joy in order to make room for what does. It has been this epic journey from Marie Kondo's books The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, which led me to completely rethink how I design my wardrobe, desk, and just about everything in between, to sitting with my family watching Minimalism: A Documentary and excitedly telling them how much "I love this quote" or how "this is such a great idea". Now, I still live in a decent sized apartment and my desk is often messy and I don't have a single white wall to be found but I consider myself a minimalist in a more fundamental way. I hope as I describe to you what I see minimalism as and, yet to come, how I apply each aspect to my own life, you'll be able to get a better idea of everything this mindset has to hold.
First and foremost it's acknowledging that you have a choice.
So this basically refers to the fact that you and only you decide what items and activities bring value to your life and if they don't, only you have the power to get rid of it. Say you hate how expensive your house payment is each month, you have the power to look into smaller houses. Or maybe you're spending every paycheck on a new outfit you seem to only wear once before it's out of fashion? Break the cycle and invest in some classic outfits that will last and set a budget for clothes. What if you spend more time at your job than with your family so you can pay for all the things you don’t have time to use? Create a budget that allows you to work the hours you want. Minimalism doesn’t have to be white and clean and empty. Minimalism is the realization that all these things society is screaming you need are just as much a choice as what you had for breakfast.
Discovering what parts of your life you truly enjoy and bring you value vs. what's just there on default.
Ask yourself, are those buckets of sentimental goodies there because you actually care or just because you'd feel guilty throwing them away? If you're like most people, why do you have 4 times as many things in your closet than you actually wear? For me the biggest things I minimized were my endless piles of books; not because I don't love to read but because they were more stress to be moving around all the time than the joy I was getting out of them. I still have a rather large collection but it now has just books I really enjoy reading. Same thing applies to my closet. Instead of loads of shoes I never wore and dresses I swore I was saving for an unknown occasion down the line - it's filled with only my favorite clothes. Instead of drudging through 5 tops before one looks cute, any shirt I put on is bound to be something I like. There's far more I applied these ideas too but I think this gives you a pretty good idea.
Apply what I just talked about to the bigger things, too.
Much of every day is done in Auto-Pilot. From pouring your coffee before work to brushing your teeth before bed; one doesn't need to really think about each thing we do. What happens, however, when you don't step out of Auto-Pilot? We are in charge of so many huge decisions in life and how many of them are you picking based off what will truly bring you the most happiness. You may think just because you're offered a promotion, you have to take it. Even if this new promotion means extra hours at the office each day and more stress on the job; Auto-Pilot says you take it anyways. Say you get a raise so you have a bit more money lying around at the end of each month. Auto-Pilot says you better move into a more expensive apartment or upgrade your car. Maybe your new teacher invites you to a club after school, even though you aren't especially interested. Auto-Pilot says you join since you have free-time anyways. Deciding to be a Minimalist means you take a moment to honestly look at the options you have in life and realize the choice is yours - not Auto-Pilot's.
Spend time on the things the bring you happiness and watch yourself transform into a happier person all around.
I got into minimalism thinking I would just have a bit less clutter lying around and have a bit of an easier time moving. Now, it's grown into so much more. Now a part of every purchase is wondering not only if I really need something but whether it will bring me any happiness once I have it. I saw so many things I thought were vital to being happy just fall to the side and found myself wanting to spend more time with my family and friends. I wanted to learn more skills instead of spending time on social media or online shopping. I wanted to save money instead of having to spend all my time working for stuff I didn't really care to have. Minimalism isn't forcing yourself to get rid of all your favorite things, it's allowing you to make room for what you love.
So yeah, maybe you'll realize you only need a small apartment or that your closet can be a lot simpler than you once thought but that’s not really the point of Minimalism. Rather, the point is that you take a moment to decide what in your life brings you happiness and you take the necessary steps to make those the focal points of your life. It's truly a beautiful thing to watch the piles of stress and unhappiness fall away as you begin asking yourself that simple question. So, turn off cruise control and enjoy your journey.