Minimalism is for you. This may seem like a bold and broad statement to make, and it certainly is—until you understand what minimalism is.
When you think of minimalism, you probably picture a Scandinavian home that looks stylishly bare. You would be correct in this thinking, but if you’ve let this be the sum of your definition of minimalism, you’re missing out. Minimalism is centered on the idea that by weeding out the unnecessary, you allow more room for the things in life you value most.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by stuff? Do you ever feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions because you’ve overcommitted yourself? Do you ever feel like your dreams couldn’t be more out of reach because you just don’t have time to pursue them? Minimalism is more than having a Pinterest-worthy, perfectly organized house. It’s about giving yourself permission to live intentionally instead of reactively.
Now, let’s talk about your stuff. A lot of us (and I used to fall into this category) have a weird relationship with our personal belongings. We hold onto material things because it makes us feel good or safe: “I might need that later. But my friend gave that to me.” We hold on to pants that are now a size too small with the hope of losing weight so they’ll fit us again some day. We hold on to a gift that someone bought us that we never used because we think it would be rude to get rid of it. We come up with a host of reasons for why we should hold on to the things we already own. The truth is, we would not buy most of these things today if we saw them in a store. Your relationship with stuff is really important: You get your life (and your beautiful home) back when you get rid of stuff.
Originally, I looked at minimalism as something that was unattainable, even slightly ridiculous. I needed my stuff. It wasn’t until I moved that I really became overwhelmed. As I packed, I found myself wondering, “Where did all of this come from? I never use this. I don’t need that.” These thoughts were constant throughout the process. I didn’t have time to sort through everything and pare down while packing, but you better believe the process started as I began unpacking and has continued since. I started reading books like Essentialism, Do Less, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Since my move, I have gotten rid of enough to fill my car a few times. Clothes, decor, random stuff I thought I needed. Initially I tried to sell a lot of what I was getting rid of. I sold a lot, but I eventually reached a point where I just wanted it all gone—and to Goodwill it went. Since I’ve given away carloads of my belongings, I’ve got to tell you, I don’t miss a single thing. In fact, I can’t wait to get rid of more. If I don’t love it, if it’s not useful, it has to go.
So let’s talk a little bit about why minimalism can be for you…
You Want a Beautiful Home
The first step to a beautiful home is having a clean home. We’ve all been into beautiful homes that aren’t picked up. When the house isn’t picked up, it doesn’t matter how nice it is. When you learn to take a different approach toward your belongings, you realize that you actually need much less than you’ve always thought. Having a beautiful home doesn’t happen when you can finally afford the perfect apartment or house that is much larger than your current one. Having a beautiful home starts today with making the best of what you have and saying goodbye to what you don’t need.
You Don’t Want to Be Bogged Down By Stuff
This is why I was drawn to minimalism. I felt suffocated by stuff, and that’s all it is—stuff. So much of my extra time was spent shuffling stuff around, cleaning and organizing. Are you constantly spending time organizing and not getting rid of much? That was me.
Organizing is great. It’s important to know where everything is. It feels good to make everything look pretty and displayed. However, sometimes less is the simple, easy answer. In the beginning, it’s hard to execute, but it gets easier. You realize that no matter how well you can play Tetris in your own home, no matter how much you color code, what you really want is more space—and you only get that by having less stuff.
You Want to Experience Life More Fully
Do you place value on experiences or things? If you place value on material things, wouldn’t your life be richer if you didn’t? Would you rather buy new jewelry or get tickets to see your favorite band with your best friend and have memories that last forever? Learning to re-work the relationship we have with our stuff (or our desire for more) allows us to live more fully. We open ourselves up to experience more, to free up more time, to deepen our friendships. We get more value out of life when we focus on really living.
You Don’t Want to Be Attached
Many of us reach a point where we realize we have an unhealthy attitude toward the things we own. Maybe your life is defined by stuff because you want a Pinterest-perfect life. You want better and you want more. Or maybe you find comfort in your things. If you find comfort in your stuff, but overwhelmed by how much you have, you are in an unhealthy relationship and it’s time to break things off.
You Want to Make Your Dreams Happen
Maybe you’re scared that your dreams are something you’ll only experience in your sleep. You’re over committed, overworked and stressed to no end. You’re spread thin, constantly bouncing from one thing to the next. All you want is a moment to breathe and do what you want. The stress keeps you from feeling inspired or creative. Don’t let your dreams take the back burner. Minimalism isn’t just applicable to stuff, although that’s the most concrete place to start. If you’re spread thin because you’re overcommitted, commit to less. You don’t have to do it all—in fact, you can’t. Focus on the things that are most important to you and make sure those things get done.
Since adopting minimalism, I’ve learned when to say yes and when to say no. I say yes to things that are a priority to me and no to things I feel unnecessarily obligated to do. I say yes to things that I need and that I love and no to things I don’t love or need. I say yes to investing more time in my dreams and relationships and no to time wasted organizing for the 100th time. I say yes to a beautiful clean home and no to feeling overwhelmed down by things I don’t need. I say yes to taking control of my own life and no to living reactively. Minimalism is a mindset and in this attitude adjustment I’ve found more life and freedom.
A word from one of our favorite minimalists:
“Minimalistic living facilitates creativity—I work from home, so since I’m here all the time, I need a place that feels peaceful and allows me to use my imagination. I also like to move things around and living minimally allows me to do that often. As for tips? I think that only keeping the things you need or really love is key. That said, that’s different for every person and at different stages of life. Right now, with two kids, I obviously need way more than I’ve ever needed before. The house is full of diapers and bouncers and toys and blankies and sippy cups. So in an attempt to keep minimalism with my growing family, I’ve found that organization is key.”
—Amanda Jones of Define Magazine and AmandaJaneJones.com
“Minimalism (to me) isn’t about white walls and sparse living spaces. I see it as an approach to editing, an ongoing practice of keeping only what is necessary. And, more importantly, what is ‘necessary’ is defined by an individual. If it makes your heart sing, it stays. If it doesn’t, it goes. In my case, minimalism includes over-the-top wallpaper and bright blue paint.”
—Kate Arends of Wit & Delight