“Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s most important things – which actually aren’t things at all.” – The Minimalists
I know what you’re thinking ‘Minimalism’ – stark white walls and monochromatic interiors, somewhat clinical. That’s what I used to think, I literally thought of it as nothing more than a cold and impersonal interior decor style.
I never dreamed that one day I would call myself a ‘Minimalist’.
I first came across minimalism as a lifestyle choice on instagram, when I followed a woman by the name of Allie Casazza. She is a self professed minimalist mama. Her focus through minimalism is to empower mothers, to show them the “More” in having “less”. I read a few of her posts, watched one or two of her videos and the idea really resonated with me…there was only one issue, I wasn’t a mother, so I felt “nah this doesn’t apply to me. But one day when I’m a mom I’ll revisit the idea. I don’t need minimalism right now”. And that was that. I didn’t know what I was missing.
Minimalism: A documentary about the important things
Then a few months ago when visiting a close friend of mine, she brought up a documentary she really thought I should watch. It was titled “Minimalism: a documentary about the important things” by two guys who call themselves The Minimalists. Not even half way through, everything just clicked. It is not as if they had earth shattering ideas or concepts, it was just that I had never actually taken the time to think about something as habitual or seemingly mundane as the stuff I own.
There’s a piece in the documentary that, if I had had any doubts left, obliterated them all in one fowl swoop. Joshua Fields Millburn (one of The Minimalists) reads from his memoir (Everything that remains). In this paragraph his mother had just died and his marriage had just ended, and he, in the middle of it all was still thinking about what he needed to buy for his new, lonely apartment, he says “…and while Rome was burning, there was still time for shopping at IKEA”. We’ve all done it, in one way or another. We’re so focused on fulling our lives with stuff, to drown out the things we’ve lost or fill up the parts of ourselves we wish were something else.
And then it all sunk in.
I realized that the stuff I owned, took up a lot more time and space than I could actually afford. The mental clutter and maintenance of it all had been something I thought was normal, it was just part of life. I didn’t realize that I didn’t need society’s permission to stop wanting “More”.
We are so programmed by the culture around us to consume mindlessly without question. Almost like a sea of Zombies we want, want, want, hardly noticing that we have, have and have!
This realization could not have come at a better time. I had just recently left my day job and was at the beginning of starting my creative business. The whole experience helped force me to clarify my values and what I wanted my life to be.
That week I donated and threw out over 80% of my belongings. Over the next few weeks we sold our buffet cabinet, our extra couches, I got right of 15 dinner plates and countless cutlery and Tupperware. My wardrobe was cut in half, and I got rid of the endless supply of just-in-case items, books I hadn’t touched in years and magazine sets I had been collecting. And so much more. EVERY part of my life feels lighter as a result.
My Life Now
I no longer feel the need to buy things for the sake of fashion or trend, I no longer feel stressed about whether I’ll be judged based on the whether I have the fanciest clothing brands, I don’t feel rushed to tidy up when someone pops over unexpectedly, and I feel a sense of joy when I walk into my home, a place filled with only the things I find beautiful or use often.
I have better routines, wiser spending habits and overall I am more intentional about how I spend my time, not just my money. I find myself more focused on collecting experiences than adding to the physical items I own. I’m still far from perfect but I can definitely see and feel a difference. Overall I had more direction and control.
I even noticed that my husband and I fight less and spend more time together. I wondered how something as simple as less stuff could result in such an emotional difference in something like a relationship. I came across this piece on Allie Casazza’s blog, “Studies show a direct link between the amount of physical possessions in a house and the stress level of the female homeowner. One study done at UCLA found that the more stuff was in a woman’s house, the higher her level of stress hormones. This same study also found that women subconsciously relate how happy they are with their homelife and family to how they feel about their homes. So the more clutter and chaos in the home, the less happy the woman is with her family and her life.” This was so true in my own life and I can see it in the life of others.
“Minimalism is less cleaning, it’s the joy of always being ready for company to drop by without stressing out, it’s more free time to focus on your priorities, it’s enjoying your home rather than being owned by it….it’s being a happier person” – Allie Casazza
And here’s the best part. I think minimalism can work for anyone and it will look different for everyone. I do not have a stark monochrome interior, I could never have just one book, I own more than one pair of shoes, and I still enjoy shopping. Minimalism is bringing in what adds to your individual experience of life, your life, and getting rid of what takes away from that life.
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of what we most value, and the removal of anything that distracts from it.” – Joshua Becker