Despite the fact that I have a tendency to be super messy (and a pile-creator), I abhor clutter. I can’t stand it on my desk, I can’t stand it in my home, I can’t stand it in my mind.
I didn’t know what to call it at the time, but over the years, I’ve been slowly moving towards and creating a minimalist lifestyle. In a nutshell, a minimalist lifestyle is one that removes the clutter from your life. Not just your home and belongings. Your life.
It sounds radical, but it’s really not. Our home looks rather normal. We have a few paintings and photos on the wall, our home is furnished, though minimally. We have tvs, iPhones, iPads, iMacs, toys and (still too many) clothes. But, we do make a lot of choices that are different from most of society. What we are doing is trying to weed out all of the stuff that we don’t need.
A minimalist lifestyle does not have to include selling all of your possessions. Everyone’s minimalism looks different, because each is based on their own needs. For example, a part of it for us is having smartphones, iPads, iMacs for the entire family and very few knick-knacks (all I see is all.the.dust. when I see knick-knacks), for others it may be the opposite..
But the stumbling block in that, is that most of us are not really sure what we truly need. We are so used to being told what we need — by others, by advertisers, by companies — that our minds are cluttered and we believe, on some level, that we have to have certain things in order to be happy.
What are some things you can do to quiet that noise, consider what you need, and begin living a simpler, less complicated, more minimalist lifestyle?
I’ve compiled some of what I’ve gone through along the journey:
Stop comparing. Sounds simple, but trust me, I know how hard this is. For all of the years I have spent pursuing a simple lifestyle, I’ve spent twice as many comparing what others had, to what I had. But it does no good, and only clutters your mind and makes you unhappy. So just stop it.
Consider your priorities and values. This will make the next step easier. But first, you need to absolutely consider this. What is truly important to you and your family? If you skip this step, you’ll have no clear vision of what you want to accomplish in the next steps.
Envision and make a list. Take a moment and think about what your life would really look like with less stuff. What parts of your day are made more difficult because of ”stuff”? Remember – stuff is not just physical items. It also includes activities, commitments etc. Write these things down and consider what steps you can take to make those things less difficult and what you can just remove entirely.
Remove stuff. Yep. Just start removing stuff. Need help with that? You’re in luck, because I wrote a post on how to get started on decluttering.
Have a healthy relationship with stuff. We humans have a tendency to pour a ton of emotion into an item. Many of us physically ache when we think of getting rid of certain things. But consider: would your life end if all the stuff disappeared tomorrow? Or would you pick up and go on? I bet you would do the latter. So go forth and have a healthy, not dependent, relationship with your stuff.
Practice gratefulness. Even with minimal belongings, we still have so much more than most of the world. Appreciate it, be grateful, and share what you don’t need with others who do.
Remember, take these in baby steps. It will not happen overnight, especially if you have to get your family on-board, but I honestly can’t say that these are just suggestions. I have found that each of these steps must be considered and acted upon in order for the changes to have a meaningful and lasting impact.
It’s not a competition. Your minimalist lifestyle will absolutely look different from others. Revisit the first step often. Even good motives and changes can take on a mind of their own and we can quickly find that we are once again trapped in another “keeping up with the Joneses” lifestyle, and subject to judging and being judged for “not doing it right.”
Have you considered a minimalist lifestyle? What is holding you back from taking the steps that might get you there? Or what have you done that has worked for you?