Minimalism is a word that's been thrown around a lot lately, and to be honest, if it hadn't I would have never been introduced to the concept. My outlook on life took a sudden turn when I realized that the things I owned may actually have just owned me the entire time. A concept as thrilling as an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist. Of course, I was hesitant, even completely dismissive of the topic until I watched the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things. That probably sounds cheesy or slightly poser-ish, but I've promised that I'm going to be honest on this blog and that is the truth. It took a one hour and nineteen minute long film conceptualized by two people who were in a similar situation as me at one point in their lives. They were paying their knowledge forward and I couldn't be more grateful.
I've written about minimalism before on this blog, so if you want to check out some other posts you can click here, here, and here. Maybe start there if you aren't familiar with the topic at all, but if you are then we can jump right into what I wanted to talk about specifically for today. It's overwhelming to realize that most of what you are currently spending your income on will need to be significantly reduced. It might even seem scary and aggravating, as though something is being taken away from you. I assure you, you are not losing anything, but rather gaining something back - control over your life and your decisions.
Capitalism is vital to most Western civilizations, and I'm not completely disregarding it because it works quite well for me and my needs. However, it has been taken to extremes (as most good things are) and become a way to turn just about anything into a product, even ourselves. When I stepped back and recognized that I was giving myself a shot of dopamine every time I bought something I didn't need, I knew I had to make a change to my lifestyle, even if only a small one. This is a post for anyone like me who doesn't like change to come too quickly, but is easily adaptable when it does. And what better time to change than right now?
I started off by decluttering my space; both home and work. This made an instant difference in my mood. I felt lighter and like I could breath for the first time in a long time. This decluttering mostly focused on things I was holding onto because I didn't know if I needed to keep them or not (i.e. bills, notes, old paperwork). I finally decided that I didn't care and threw it all away. That is probably the easiest step to take because those things are just waiting to be tossed out. It gets a bit harder when it comes to clothes and household items.
Once I had gotten rid of any unnecessary items I then started with the items that served a purpose but I knew I could live without. That can include pen holders, extra pens, notebooks, appliances rarely used, books only read once. This stuff is a bit harder to convince yourself to get rid of, but once you do you'll quickly realize that you didn't really care about them at all. Out of sight, out of mind. I'll still get an itch from time to time to throw out coffee mugs we rarely use, just to make a bit of room and feel like we aren't keeping them there just because we think we have to. It's fairly liberating once you realize that you are taking back control of your belongings and really thinking about what you want to bring into your life.
And finally, on to clothes and homeware. It's easy to buy things just because you think you need to in order to maintain a certain style. It's also incredibly easy to get dragged into the fast fashion trap because of this desire to stay on-trend. The problem with that is anything trendy only stays that way for about 2 weeks until it's replaced by something new. Where does that leave regular people? Spending money chasing the false hope of being en vogue.
The best advice I can give for moving away from this mentality is packing away everything you haven't used in the past 3 months to see if you'll reach for it anytime soon. If not, you'll know you can get rid of it forever. What's key in this slow transition is not committing to the throwing out just yet. Let yourself adjust to life without something you've seen (and subsequently ignored) every day. Just like a crying toddler being trained off their soother, at some point you'll completely forget about the object used to pacify your emotions.
Have you started practicing minimalism? What are your tips for the transition?