How Minimalism Changed My Life
There is no prescribed definition of minimalism. Minimalism is not about having a small amount of stuff. Its not about throwing away everything you have or making sacrifices. Minimalism is about giving importance to the stuff that make you happy.
When you live a minimalistic life you simplify the clutter in your life so you can spend time and focus on the things that are important to you. This is not a metaphor either. It will truly elevate the things that make you happy and get rid of that ‘noise’ in your life that prevents you from enjoying those things. Going minimal was an easy discussion as I suffered from normal day to day problems which I will address in a form of a question, to you.
Do you find yourself losing important objects often? Can you not keep track of something you put away for more then a few months? Do you find you always have to move something or do something else before you can accomplish a task? Does it take you more then 15 mins to pack for a long trip? Are you in debt?
I used to be someone who would keep everything and lost everything. I would open up a drawer and find something I didn't even know was mine. I couldn't locate things I needed at the moment I needed it and sometimes wouldn't be sure if I even had that object I wanted in the first place. I would spend more time looking for something then actually doing what I needed to do. Oh, and the debt.
“I used to be someone who would keep everything and lose everything.”
One day I said enough is enough and started to implement better organization into my life. But what really helped me is reducing the amount of things I owned. When it comes to ‘stuff’ you need to keep track of it and organize it or else its starts to pile up, and if you let it pile up then that day you need to clean it up you have to spend a whole weekend of painstaking cleaning and throwing stuff away. Just by having ‘stuff’ means you have more work and less time for things that are important to you and ultimately this ‘stuff’ adds stress.
Need to dust? Move 500 things in your house just to dust the table. Where was that new thing I bought? Remember when you bought that object that you thought was a great idea and now you never use? Dont like cook but have a bunch of kitchen utensils to do every little task. We dont use that because its for storage. Is that how much I have left in my account...
Two of the issues I had, and many people have, is the need to keep everything and the nature to convince yourself to buy something for a reason that does not hold much weight.
For those willing to part with their items or those who just want to clean up their house ask yourself this: Do you really need that thing? If you put it in a box and was only allowed to take it out if you needed it would it come out this year?
This is more then a hypothetical question but a very useful (abet slightly more assertive) technique to understand what items are really important to ones self and what is superfluous. The idea is this: You put all your stuff in boxes, everything you own down to your toothbrush and toilet paper, and when you need something you take it out and keep it out. After one year if there is something left in the box most likely you will never use it. Those are the items you dont need and can throw away.
You can convince yourself all you want that these items are important or useful but the reality is you will probably never use them. You hadnt used them for a year so what makes you think you will use them next year? Next year has the same holidays, same seasons, same issues, same birthdays, and you will have the same house. Unless they hold vast sentimental value, stop convincing yourself you need junk because thats what that item has become.
I did not take that specific approach but instead took a more subtle strategy. Instead as I handle something or go to buy something I carefully think about if I really need that object. What kind of benefit will it provide me? Will I use it very often? When was the last time I used this (probably when I first bought it)? Will it give me more stress or work to use? Where will I keep it? If it is not worth it then I dont buy it or throw it away.
Dont get me wrong. I am still quite materialistic but I think carefully of what I buy and make sure it will make my life better and last a long time. I love my Ipad. Im still looking for that perfect backpack. Im willing to try new tools or technology; if the new item doesnt work well then I throw it away (donate or recycle preferably) but if it makes my day to day easier then I keep it. I have quite a few things but what I do have is important to me and used very often.
A thought experiment I like to do that helps me better appreciate minimalism is to think about how much of my valuable time ‘stuff’ takes up. Every extra thing I do that is not important adds up and wastes my time. Simply moving a plant off the table every time you eat might only take 5 seconds but if you account for those 5 seconds, three times a day, 7 times a week, 365 days a year starts to add up. Specifically it adds up to almost 11 hours of your life wasted. I could have written three articles in that time.
Now imagine how many other small actions that only take a few seconds to accomplish and have no benefit to your well being. 20 of these actions can add up to 220 hours a year. Imagine what one can do with all that time.
My favorite part of my minimalistic lifestyle is my desk. It is always equiped with my ipad, a coster, and two lighting cables creeping in from behind the desk. At any given time I can approach that desk and start working. Doesnt matter if I need to drop down 2 text books, a poster, and a beer, it is always ready for me to get important work done and never in need of cleaning before I get started. No small tasks to get done before I work like cleaning, orginizing, moving, etc.
An extraneous reason that makes someone hold on to ‘stuff’ is the just-in-case excuse. %95 of the time they dont need that object and if they do they are no more then a 5 or 10 min drive or walk from a store. One could easily buy it at the moment if they need it. With that extra space they could put something that is important to them or even better, nothing.
More stuff means more stuff to clean, keep track of, and organize. When you fill your mind and home with stuff you have less room for things that actually matter to you. If that vase breaks its not the end of the world but the people around you are only on this earth one time. Stop cleaning that vase, spending 11 hours a year doing so, and use that time to spend with a love one or accomplishing your dreams.
Minimalism has changed my life for the best. I can find things easily. I know what I have. Packing takes me 10 minutes. What I have makes me happy and what didn't make me happy is gone. This is how minimalism changed my life.
Minimalism might not be for everyone. Its important to understand there are different levels of minimalism. Some live out of a 20 liter backpack and other have a house but maybe have one set of nice dishes instead of three. There is no prescribed definition of minimalism. Do what makes you happy.