Minimalism! Scared yet? Wait don’t go! Don’t let this word evoke pictures of lonely blank white walls, and frugal, no-fun-allowed deprived living. Cast the ol' stereotypes aside and let's delve deeper into the ideals behind the movement and how it can support you living a simpler, happier life.
Sometimes I wonder if more people would tune into minimalism if it didn't come with the label...
Labels and titles are everywhere. They make it easier for people describe and connect to a certain group, or a certain way of thinking or living. There’s a name for everything and everyone but I’ve always been the kinda girl that loved not falling into one category. I loved competitive dance and competitive sports, and 90’s alternative rock music AND 90’s dance music. (Technotronic anyone!?)
This is why I love what minimalism stands for but think you can live the principles without label. Minimalism describes a way of living I’ve been slowly and consistently working on over the past ten years before I even heard the term. Now it's everywhere!
If the term minimalism puts you off, then let’s chuck it right out the back door and try a more gentle description. How about simple, intentional living? A way of living where you’re deliberate in your choices and where you don’t accept what society or advertising agencies tell you. Instead, you craft a beautiful life by living within your financial means, not hoarding stuff, and choosing people and experiences over things.
You can just make smart choices with your money.
Our society lives on credit. Our homes, cars and most large purchases are not really ours and it’s 100% socially acceptable. It’s actually how the majority of people live now. With the ease of using credit, rarely do we stop, pause and save up for something before a purchase. This is an old habit I still work so hard to give up. It’s just so damn easy to charge something and deal with it later!
One decision I am proud of was the choice of my first home. My husband and I chose a small house with a mortgage that was less than half of what we were approved for. Let me repeat: less than HALF. This was an intentional decision to ensure we never had to think twice about our monthly bills and still had the financial bandwidth to continue to travel.
I will live completely debt free someday soon. It's a possibility for anybody, maybe you should try it too! Just because lenders make it easy to borrow money doesn’t mean it’s something we should accept as the norm.
You can just get rid of excess crap.
Don’t think for one second that you need to empty out your house and get rid of things that you love or that add value to your life. I’m talking about the extra crap here- the doubles of items, the clothes you haven’t worn for months or years and papers and knick knacks that fill up nooks and crannies in your home that you just never do anything with.
Slowly but surely, you can rid yourself of the extras that are weighing you down and getting in the way.
What about when it's special crap!?
Gifts and sentimental items that you keep because you think you should. Ooooh, those are the toughies! You can do it. Take your time, remember why you’re making this physical space in your life. Remember what good it can bring you and that in the end we can't keep all this stuff anyways. If you love it, keep it! If you don’t, what’s holding you back?
I've decluttered gifts from loved ones in the past year that literally had me in tears right after they were gone. It only lasted a few minutes, but it felt so hard and I felt like a bad person. Yet, hooray! Here I am, friendships and relationships still intact and I don’t miss those items at all. It was the emotional guilt of letting them go that was holding me back.
Avoid letting new crap back in.
After you declutter and make space in your life, you have to be intentional about what you let back in. Think long and hard before purchases. Don’t accept freebies if it’s just some junk you don’t need. Leave the goodie bag from the dentist at the dentist if you’re fully stocked at home and it’s just going to live under your sink never to be seen again. Politely decline printouts or business cards that you have no use for.
Once you become aware of how easily unnecessary items can make their way into your life, you can stop the relentless flow.
You can even let go of crap that aren't physical things!
Maybe you have old beliefs that don’t serve you anymore, or a relationship that doesn’t fill you up, one that you keep alive because you’re too scared to let it go. Been there, done that. It’s scary, and it can feel awful, but ultimately
when you let go of relationships that don't serve you anymore you will be free.
With beliefs, it’s important to stop and take note of what’s going on in that melon of yours. It might be negative self talk ("I’m not smart, I’m not good enough") When you get really quiet and listen to the thoughts running through your mind, do you like what you hear? This is another tough one for me, something I continue to work on after years of self-work. We all probably have a version of this deep down inside, so listen closely, be brave and work to let it go.
Choose people and experiences over things.
What do you cherish most in your life, people or things? I’m guessing the answer is people. Now take a second and reflect- do your daily habits support this?
Without being intentional it’s easy to take our relationships for granted. Instead we place attention on the next shiny object we want to purchase. After all, we think once we have it we will finally be happy. It just doesn’t work that way.
Keep relationships your number one priority. People win, every time. We yearn for connection and community and when we prioritize our relationships we live a better life.
Remember, you don’t have to call yourself a minimalist to live your life on purpose. It’s all about making intentional decisions to benefit your life and ultimately the life of those around you.
Is the term minimalism less intimidating now? Lemme know what you think in the comments :)