I never really considered minimalism for myself as 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 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 principles. As a mum I already feel like a police women and I really was not prepared to add pressure with more “don’ts”.
I was totally wrong ! Minimalism is not what I have imagined it to be. It is however common misconception that it relates to living with bare minimum. Minimalism means understanding what adds value in your life and ultimately getting rid of things that have no value and become destruction and clutter. Another misconception about minimal living is that t’s only relation to physical things but it actually largely relates to state of mind, sense of clarity and confidence. Decluttering your draw though is a great place to start as it helps you to progress into decluttering your head and entire life at a later stage. Many claim that minimalism helped them 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.
Minimal life – what you gain by letting go?
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 living without, it’s about owing things that are useful, things that serve you and add value. Is about sustainable consciousness and awareness. It’s about removing yourself from pointless race that never ends and removing from place of confusion. It help understand that we have to connect with our inner self and teaches how to filter outside influences to achieve freedom and balance.
There is no rules that clearly set out what and how much your you owe, it’s very personal affair. What might be little for me, might be lots for you. The goal is to find your balance without questioning it or compare yourself to others. It has to work for you. It’s about progressing towards feeling of satisfaction, freedom and finding happiness and fulfillment through this sustainable process.
It’s not about what you owe but why you owe it
We are visual creatures. Although minimalism is not just about items you owe, decluttering your house is a great place to start as you can physically assess your progress and find motivation to extend it to other aspects of life. It can be an enormous task though. Feeling overwhelmed? I can relate! Commit and accept that this a process which will become your way of living. Every learning process takes time so don’t rush it or stress yourself over it. Even if you are feeling enthusiastic don’t attempt to so it all at once as it can quickly become too much!
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.
- Don’t waste – Be sustainable and don’t just pack it all in a lack bag. 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!
- Re-purpuse 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 a great source of inspiration. Search Re-cycling, Up-cycling, Re-purpusing…you will be surprised how many creative ideas you will find!
Once your home is decluttered you are at the stage of order you most likely already gained some sense of calm, freedom, most definitely sense of achievement. Sustain it going forward, think of the choices you make in “need” rather the “want” category. Invest in things that will last a long time and serve you well.
Progressing to live meaningful life
The best thing in life are actuality not things . The most luxurious thing in life in fact is time. Here is the chance to create some luxury for yourself by letting go of habits, relationships, activities that don’t add value and just take your precious time.
Your health must come first!
If you cant find the time to look after yourself you must agree that your priorities have to change! The holy grail of well -being is a good balance of physical activity, appropriate diet and sufficient sleep.
- Your body is the only place you have to live in for the rest of your life, so look after it. Nourish it with good, healthy, wholesome food. It really is the absolute basic and I do not suggest you eat kale salad all day long. Enjoy your food but don’t abuse your body by overeating, consuming processed junk, excess of fat, sugar or other addictives. For just too many the wake up call is a serious illness, and that’s tough place to be in. Your are what you eat. Cliche? Maybe, but preserving your health is the best investment you ever make.
- Sleeping is so important! This is time for your body and mind to recovers, cells to regenerate, your brain to rest. Sleep issues can be seriously debilitating , for most however it’s comes down to basics and some self discipline. Keep physically active, stay hydrated (and I mean water! wine or pop will not be your best bet here ) and maintain good eating habits. World will not collapse if you switch the mobile phone in the evening, give yourself some respect, space, time without destruction so you can focus on YOU and help the brain wind down.
- Be active. I know, easier said then done but you do not have to be extreme, just consistent. Don’t run if you hate running just because everyone else does it, instead choose some physical activity you enjoy. Opt for a brisk walk with your friend on a weekend rather then sitting session in your favorite cafe. Go for a bike ride and picnic, or a swim. Have some fun with kids playing tennis or badminton in the garden. Being outside and connecting with nature is a great therapy for the body and mind. Don’t over complicate it, create opportunities. .
Sorting your relationships
By which I mean not just the intimate once. You want to surround yourself by people who you enjoy sharing time with, people who care for you and you care for them. You want to spend your time with someone who makes you happy, supports you, positivist contributes and vice versa. As “The Minimalists” Joshua Field Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus quote in their book (Minimalism, live a meaningful life) : “You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you”. In fact this book really helped me understand the true values on minimalism and how by letting go you create space for your personal growth which leads to finding your purpose in life.
Minimalism does not end there, it’s a mindset and a tool which you can use to your advantage to create a value and meaning in your life. From physical things through finances, relationships, time management and many more.