Minimalism, forget what you’ve heard.
Most people have only heard an extremist view of this lifestyle, and I’m here to set the record straight. Minimalism is not getting rid of everything you own and living with as little as possible. It is not all modern decor and white walls. Instead, it is eliminating excess from your life, physical items or otherwise. It is surrounding yourself with only those things, people, or activities that inspire you. You keep all of the things that bring you joy and have use to you, but taking part in this movement provides you with the tools to see what is or isn’t improving your life more easily.
Minimalism is a huge trend right now that I hope never leaves. I think that living minimally is portrayed as something that could not be achieved in a normal household, but that’s simply not true. Minimalism is what you make it, and the benefits absolutely outweigh the risks.
So what is minimalism exactly?
To me, minimalism is surrounding yourself with things that are useful, beautiful, and inspiring to you. It is taking back your home as living space, rather than storage. The idea behind this movement is that clutter causes stress. The more things you have, the more time you spend cleaning, organizing, and looking for things. The minimalist lifestyle provides you with skills to free yourself from all these time-consuming tasks allowing you to do more of what you love. But minimalism applies to more than just things. Eliminating excess extends to the relationships we have and how we spend our time. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.” You are what you surround yourself with, so why not choose your environment with intent.
Minimal living myths:
I have been doing a lot of research on the topic and I feel like some of the resources out there are just getting it wrong. To be a minimalist you do not need to limit yourself to 100 items or 30 pieces of clothing. Having some ideal limit or standard in mind will ruin the point and the process of minimizing your life. Giving yourself limits is what I would consider downsizing, not minimizing.
How to get started:
So how does this thing work? Well, depending on how much stuff you have, it could take a while to actually complete the process. The most important thing is to just get started. Once you begin finding what is actually important to you, the process will become much easier.
Before you start going through all of your things, set an intention. I want you to close your eyes and visualize your ideal life. Think about what is important to you, and what makes you feel happiest and most comfortable in your home.
You will decide what to keep or get rid of based on the category of the item, not where it is located in your house. I recently started with my clothes so I will use that as an example. You need to pull every single item of clothing that you have out of your closet, drawers, entryway, and yes, even those totes in the garage. You cannot recognize how much you have until you see it all in one place. Organize them by type.
Now, this is the most important part. To start you need to keep a few questions in mind—
Do I LOVE this item?
Does it bring me joy?
If I saw it in the store right now would I purchase it?
Is it currently useful?
You will examine each item. For clothes, touch the fabric and think about how you feel when you wear it. If it is something you would happily pick out any morning to wear because it is comfortable or makes you feel great when you have it on, it’s a keeper. Go through every item with those questions in mind. You will slowly weed out all of the things holding you back.
Once you’ve decided what to keep, find a place for it. Everything needs a specific home where you can easily access it, this will ensure it will continue to be useful and always be put back.
Why we keep things we don’t need.
Sometimes we feel guilty for getting rid of something because we spent money on it or because it was a gift. Maybe those jeans looked really cute in the store, but never actually fit right once you got them home. Maybe you appreciated that someone took the time to pick out a cute accessory for you, but it’s not quite your style so you never wear it. If it’s something you wish you actually wore but don’t, get rid of it.
As you decide what to keep you may want to hold onto things you don’t currently use and claim it is because they could be useful, but “could be” and “currently” are two very different things. We are afraid to get rid of things that we might need someday. This is how your home becomes a storage shed. Having grown up poor, this was a big issue for me to overcome. I want to be clear, it is okay to keep a sweater in the summer that you know you will wear in the fall. It is not okay to keep that magenta cami because you might have something you need to wear it under someday. Let me tell you, someday will never come, and if it does, you can get a new one. The price you are paying in stress will likely be more than the cost of replacing the item.
How will minimalism affect your life?
Living a minimalist lifestyle will change how you get ready in the morning. When you only have items you love to wear, you don’t need to waste time or brainpower trying on five different outfits. It will give you more freedom from cleaning and less time wasted searching for things because every single item has a place where it can easily be found and put away. But there may be some effects you weren’t expecting. It changes your mindset when shopping. You will start really thinking about purchases to determine if items deserve a place in your home, which in turn causes you to save money. You may begin to only surround yourself with things that inspire you in all aspects of your life, including people and activities. Somehow setting an intention for your life provides confidence to stop saying yes to anything that does not bring you joy.
I am just starting my journey to minimalism, but I am already so in love with the freedom this process brings. Some resources I have used to learn about becoming a Minimalist include:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, Functioning Minimalist, and Simple On Purpose.