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.
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.