MinimalisMay 1: The Foundation

I’m doing a series of posts this month documenting my journey to start exploring a minimalist lifestyle. MinimalisMay will explore what minimalism means to me and how I’m incorporating it into my life. And it’s all from a novice’s perspective, so there will be a lot of learning as I go!

Minimalism is one of our latest cultural fads. It’s trendy now. We have documentaries about people living in tiny houses and entire magazines devoted to the art of living simply and decluttering our closets. We’ve all read that listicle that was shared on social media about why everyone should quit social media, and that article about how I finally quit my job so I could travel the world on a shoestring budget and you can too!!!

And yet, here we are. Our closets are still cluttered, we’re still bying tons of crap we don’t need, our 9-5 jobs still put us through the ringer, we still spend hours on social media scrolling through memes and comments section arguments.

I’m one of those people. I do all of those things even though I’ve been enamored by the minimalist lifestyle for years. So what gives?

I think the reason I’m having trouble getting started is the same reason a lot of us are – I haven’t gotten to the why of it or taken the time to explore what minimalism and a simplified lifestyle mean to me.

So let’s do that now.

Having a lot of stuff makes me anxious. Buying crap I don’t need, having a home full of things I don’t really want and never use, sitting at a desk all day surrounded by stacks of disorganized paperwork – it puts me on edge and makes me feel unsettled and stressed.

The same is true with the non-physical clutter in my life: when I spend hours on social media doing nothing but absorb utterly pointless and hollow “information”, instead of reading or being outside or living my life, I feel the same way I feel when I spend the day in front of the TV eating a whole box of cookies: gross.

I want to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle because I recognize the negativity these things bring in my life and I don’t want to feel that way anymore. Mental and physical clutter bogs me down. It takes up time, space, and energy. I want that time, space and energy back. I want to have less stuff to worry about so that I have more room to live my life. At work and at home, I want to be less distracted by clutter and things that don’t matter. Minimalism to me is freedom. It’s being able to live my life more fully.

That’s what it means to me, and that is the foundation of my journey to try to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle.

I also came up with some guiding principles for my minimalism journey:

Minimalism is a practice, not an end game

One thing I love about yoga is that yogis refer to what they do as a “practice”. Right there in the language they use to describe yoga they make it abundantly clear that yoga is about the journey, not the destination. It’s not something to master, conquer, or complete. It’s something you only ever practice. To me, minimalism and simplicity are the same way – it’s not a goal I can achieve, like running a marathon. I can’t just work my way through a to-do list or a training cycle and at the end exclaim “that’s it! I’ve done it! I am now a minimalist, no more work needed!” I can only ever practice it, never perfect it.

Learn

My tendency with a lot of things is to take the mindset of why do I need to read a bunch of stuff about minimalism? That’s just information overload. It’s pretty straightforward and personal so why not just go do it and figure it out for myself? Sure, information overload is a real thing and my journey to minimalism should always fit my own life and come from within. But I have to remind myself that there is also great value in listening to the thoughts and experiences of others. You never know when you may be inspired. I recently picked up Marie Kondo’s bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I am eating alive, and then I’m eager to dive into this one, which I found on this awesome blog. I may not agree with or relate to everything these authors will say, but I will be enriched from reading their thoughts. After all, they know more than I do!

Don’t think. Just go.

As I sit here writing this, I keep noticing my temptation to fall into one of my biggest habits: trying to find the answers to everything. I do this with almost every topic I explore on the blog, every new thing I embark on. I want to lay out a question or a problem and come to a nice, convenient little conclusion about it. I suppose it gives me a sense of direction and certainty. Even now I find myself falling into the mindset of I’ve identified what minimalism means to me and what I want to get out of it, now, here’s what I shall do! Voila! Minimalism! But I don’t need to have all the answers, or even try to. In fact, it’s probably better if I don’t. If I want this journey to be educational and enriching, I need to get comfortable with having some of my ideas fail and some of my projects not turn out the way I’d hoped. What would be so terrible about that? It’s okay to be wrong sometimes. It’s okay to learn as you go.

 

Do you practice minimalism? What does minimalism mean to you?

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19 thoughts on “MinimalisMay 1: The Foundation

  1. People put too much emphasis in their lives on stuff to the point where they are holding jobs they don’t like just so they can afford the stuff they don’t need. My husband and I have always been very minimalist. We are certainly not rich and we are both very concerned with environmentalism, so minimalism fits well into our lives. Also, it’s hard to live large when you live in a 600 sq. ft. apartment. 🙂

    1. Good for you two!! Haha, we also have a 600 footer, and I’m continually amazed at how much stuff we somehow manage to have. It just seems to come out of nowhere!

  2. Good post and idea.. I try and practice pareto with stuff. I use 20% of my things 80% of the time so that’s what I keep. Some things are harder to cull however and having two small boys means the house is always filled with stuff I’d happily dispose of.. Daddy is my X in the bin is a common question when what ever X is can’t be found 🙂

    1. Thanks! Love that 80/20 idea. I imagine having kids must add a whole other dimension to practicing minimalism…hats off to those of you who can do that!

  3. I have recently started practicing minimalism! Im only 19 but after seeing my spending habits and knowing the the road ahead of me(college) is not cheap and has many distractions, I’ve realized that I need to take control over my life! To me minimalism is having complete freedom from commercial society and being completely satisfied with what I have. Minimalism is allowing me to stop comparing my stuff and myself to others and to stop hating myself for not having the best of the best. Im hoping that it will help me curb my compulsive buying habits and develop new hobbies and interest such as BLOGGING!! This is probably the hardest thing I have ever tried to do but I’m so excited! Im also so happy to have a community of people that I can relate to, and share my experiences with. I loved your post and I can really relate to it.

    1. That’s awesome!! Good luck on your blog, I would love to follow. I’m very interested in how a college student would define and live a minimalist lifestyle! And oh, the memories…I’m 7 years out of college now so I can live vicariously through you, haha

  4. I am in a never ending cycle trying to de-clutter and pair down. Stuff gives me anxiety when it has no place…however, I am not the only one in my space and as I soon as I clear a spot, sometimes others fill it up. You have to pick those battles…
    I find I often feel overwhelmed by where to start, and so stuff sits undone for a long time. I don’t have the best organizational skills or creative skills to fix a space and make it useful- I wish i did

    1. Living with other people does add a challenging new element to minimizing and downsizing, especially if those people aren’t as down with minimalism as you are. Kevin wants to declutter but I have a feeling he’s not going to be willing to do it as thoroughly as I do, so it will be interesting. I’m looking forward to figuring out how I should navigate this challenge.

  5. I tend to have stupidly expensive taste. If you ever want to find the most expensive item in a store, just take me with you, it will be the one thing I just have to have (until I see the price tag). But on the other hand, I hate clutter and having a bunch of useless stuff. So I have kind of struck a weird balance of I don’t own a lot of unnecessary stuff, but I’m not afraid to splurge on the things that I love and use. Not really a minimal lifestyle, but it works for me.

    1. I think that fits the bill! Most experts say you should actually splurge on higher quality for your big ticket, frequently used items, so that you can get good use out of them and enjoy them more, as opposed to buying cheaper stuff and having to spend time and money to replace it more often. I think it’s kind of a “have everything you want and want everything you have” type of thing.

  6. I’m a clutterbug and completely disorganized. I do think that trying to minimize things in some areas of my life would be good, but I also can’t pinpoint one thing that I own that doesn’t bring me joy or that isn’t a true necessity. So right now, I’m not stressing over it. We donate to Goodwill a few times a year as we start to accumulate things we no longer need, and that seems good enough for me! I’m interested to see what minimalism ends up looking like in your life!

    1. Well, I think most minimalists would argue that if you need/love all that stuff, then it isn’t actually clutter. I think it’s hard for all of us not to accumulate stuff we don’t need, because we have grown up in a culture that encourages consumerism. But if you’re happy, why change anything? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it 🙂

  7. I often embrace minimalism and until recently I didn’t know that it had a name. I always have decluttered and gotten rid of things that I don’t need or don’t use. I never really followed books or practices about being a minimalist. I just go with my gut.

    1. That’s awesome that minimalism has just come naturally to you. I wish I had grown up with the same natural inclination!

  8. I love Blonde on a Budget’s blog. I’m working on minimizing my things. I don’t know that I’m quite to minimalism. I guess for me that would be more of a mindset I work to adopt once I get rid of many of my things. The ones I don’t need or use. I’m not looking to move into a tiny house, but I would love to have a place for everything & only have things I really need, use & love.

    Excited to read more as you keep going. 🙂

  9. I am late commenting on this, but I wanted to make sure I had the time to read it thoroughly and I finally did today. So much of what you say really strikes a chord with me because I feel like I think so similarly to you. I always want there to be an answer in everything I do and because of that I sometimes tend to put off decision-making because I don’t know where it will lead.
    I don’t know if I can describe my idea of minimalism, but to me, it’s more about getting out of your comfort zone. I’ve done that in some ways – but then I find myself back in a new comfort zone if that makes any sense. There are unfortunate roadblocks (*cough* student loans *cough*) that I’ve let prevent me from taking on my crazy minimalist dreams (which definitely involve traveling the world, volunteering, and quite possibly living in Africa for an extended period of time), but maybe one day I’ll get the courage to take the plunge 🙂

  10. I feel like no matter how many times I do a closet cleanout, I can never really get rid of everything I should. I’m always saving clothes for one day when I *might* want to wear them when the only realistic chance I’d want to is 5 years from now or maybe never. But I feel the same way as you about clutter, and I do live in a small apartment, and I worry that when I go back to living in a house I’ll allow it to be filled with more unnecessary “stuff” so it would be better to live the principles I want to now in preparation!

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