What minimalism is not….
I have been hearing and fearing the term “minimalism” a lot recently. I never really though of becoming a minimalist because I simple though this is a step to far for me. I imagined this is a concept for people that are willing to give up all their modern commodities, for people willing to live with just few things, for people that are happy to live… hippie type of life. I felt that as a family based in a city we will never be able to keep the principles of minimalism and I somehow felt this would be dishonest and against this movement. As a mum I also was a bit stressed thinking about yet another set of rules and bans that I would have to introduce to my family and simply feared that it would just not be possible to follow but instead added additional pressure.
Boy, was I wrong! Do you get that feeling of fear, anxiety, lack of interest towards things, ideas, news you are unfamiliar with and that you IMAGINE being something (they are not)? In my own head I created a boundary based on fear of unknown and unfamiliar subject. Well here is the thing, minimalism is not what I have imagined it to be.
Minimal life – what you gain by letting go?
Minimalism means understanding what adds value in your life and ultimately getting rid of things that have no value and become destruction and clutter. There is a misconception about minimal living and it’s only relation to physical things but it largely relates to state of mind, sense of clarity and confidence. Decluttering your draw helps declutter your head. Many claim that minimalism helped them largely with anxiety and depression. How is it possible? You remove over stimulation and reduce sense of guilt. It makes you feel more in control and removes you out of the comparison game helping you realize that what’s around you must work for you, not for others.
How many times have you stood looking at your overflowing wardrobe just to say: “I have nothing to wear”? I admit I have, and not once! Have you ever found things in your wardrobe still with the price tag on them and that you have totally forgot about? How many times do we fall into the “promotion” trap and buy because it’s on offer not because we need it? Does having more make you happier? In this instance rather more confused, overwhelmed and guilty.
Minimalism is not about owing barely nothing, it’s about owing things that serve you and add value. Is about sustainable consciousness and awareness. It’s about removing yourself from pointless race that never ends.
So, what are the rules?
The great news is, there is no set of rules to follow as being minimalist is a personal affair. If something is a struggle to follow, you will not continue with it for very long as it will feel like a burden so create your own version, suitable to your needs and don’t question it or compare it to others. It has to work for you, no box ticking someone else created. It’s about progressing towards feeling of satisfaction, freedom and finding happiness and fulfillment through this sustainable process.
Where do I start??
Thought of decluttering can be overwhelming. I can relate!
Once you commit you must accept that this a process and a way of living. Every learning process takes time so don’t rush it or stress yourself over it. Remember, It’s all about making room for what matters to you. It requires some thought.
I have started as suggested by Madeline Olivia in her very helpful book “Minimal. How to simplify your life and live sustainably“. One area of the house at a time. It could be a bathroom cabinet, wardrobe, kitchen cupboard, storage box or wherever in the house you feel like targeting. Once you on it, empty the area and put back what you are using. Leave out all products you have not used for a long time or just don’t like, pack it in box and put away for a week of two. If after time you did not need any of those items in the box you can say goodbye to them.
Minimalism can be applied in every aspect of our life but it does not mean you should put all unwanted items in a black bag. Be sustainable. If you already own a product (or too many products of the same sort like… 5 different red lipsticks?hmmm!?) you have not only invested money in purchasing it on a first place but a lot of energy and resources went into producing it, packing and delivery. Use what you can. By going through this process you will often discover things you have forgotten you owe and sort everything so that you can start using things you have re-discovered.
Donate, Swap, Sell
There will be many things you can not use or simply dislike. This can be donated to charity, homeless shelters etc or simply offered to a friend. If something is in good condition this is great opportunity to get some extra dosh by selling it online. Remember, your trash might be someones’ treasure!
There is a great article on National Geographic website by Ellen MacArthur about the importance of ending our throw away culture and the fact that we have to move beyond single use philosophy. Part of the issue is that many everyday items are very affordable so often we are not thinking twice before getting rid of them. Once things end up in the bin, they are costing us and the environment a lot more than we give it a thought. It’s an expense we can not afford. Be creative, try to re-use what you have and save as much as you can. Repair what you can, mend your cloths to fit you, re-purpuse if possible. If I’m stuck for ideas I find Pinterest great source of inspiration. Search Re-cycling, Up-cycling, Re-purpusing…you will be surprised how many creative ideas you will find!
Once you are at the stage of order you can start considering making the right choices going forward. By this stage you would realize how much waste has been produced, overconsumption related to most of us! This is the moment to fix it.
Open your mind
Minimalism related to all aspects of life. Consider what you eat and where your food comes from. Think about the way you travel or spend your free time. Are the beauty product you use good for you and what are they made off? Is the cleaning product you use harmful to you or to the environment? Examine all aspects of your life…and be conscious. Knowledge is a power! Get interested, read the label, ask questions.
Perhaps you can consider buying bar soap to avoid plastic packaging with liquid soap. If you don’t think this will work for you, search for other solution such us refill product that will be more sustainable and have less packaging. If you found that your kitchen cupboards where the place of most waste, consider planning your meals better to gain control and stop overbuying products. Tempted to buy more cloths? Think in terms of NEED over WANT, consider second-hand shopping. When eating at a restaurant order only as much as you will eat but if the portions are too big, as for leftovers.
Minimalism goes beyond what you owe. You will reach a point when your way of thinking about life will shift. Minimalism is only a tool, use it to create space for life full of meaning, unconditioned freedom.