I wanted to discuss something that has become increasingly important to me lately: the idea of living with enough. In other words, minimalism.
Maybe you have heard of minimalism and think that it is not for you. To be honest, I am not a fan of minimalism in the literal sense either. Empty spaces, white walls, no color, no personal items, modern furniture, and stainless steel. I am not a fan of that lifestyle, or at least, not that particular viewpoint of it. Instead of thinking about minimalism from that angle, see if from the angle of abundance: Having enough of everything you need, a space designed just the way you love it with no clutter, and no extra stress. Now, that sounds pretty nice.
My new apartment is not minimal in the usual definition of the word. Most of our furniture is dark wood. We like color and have a love for books, which is obvious when you look at our three full bookcases. Our closet is full of clothes. When we downsized to our smaller apartment, we donated car-fulls of clothes, books, home décor, and kitchenware. We realized that we did not need all the extras, the “just in case” items, or that “One day…” things we were holding onto. And believe me, we still have plenty that most minimalists would have said goodbye to long ago: Under the sofa we have a few flat boxes full of paint and art supplies, I still have all of my old American Girl Doll things (guilty as charged), Matthew kept some old toy trucks, and we have both held onto favorite childhood books that we want to share with our future children some day. Yes, that anti-minimalist word “someday…”
But that is ok. Minimalism, or having enough, or living simply (whatever you want to call it) is different for everyone. Every item we choose to own brings us happiness or is useful. My idea of living simply looks very different to that of other minimalists and yours will too. It is still a process. Matthew and I are still moving things around in our new place and adding to the donate, recycle, and trash piles. We’re also monitoring what we bring into our home. It has taught us a lot about ourselves. What do we really need? What do we actually use? Do these items add value to our lives or take from it? What is more important: a new pair of shoes or a new experience?
Because you see, it is not just about owning less, having less clutter, or having less to clean. It is also about more; More time spent with friends and family, more time to do what you love to do, more money in savings or spent on experiences over material things, and more living outside of the home while enjoying the time we are home. Spending less time and energy on consumerism gives you this opportunity. Realizing that we actually do have enough stuff, and in some cases much more than enough, frees us from this need to seek more. Because for the most part, shopping and things are just distracting us from living our best lives. All this starts at home, where we spend most of our personal lives outside of work.
As the boxes are unpacked and the spaces become clear, I can feel the stress melt away. I can enjoy the tranquility and comfort of our new home.
We have completed this process numerous times with each move and every time we get a little better at it. You do not need to move to get the benefits from going through your things and clearing out clutter. You also don’t have to make a complete overhaul right now to get the benefits this very moment. All you need to get started is twenty-five minutes and these five things:
- Create a donate box, basket, or bag. Keep it in a closet or pantry in your home. Every time you realize that you have an extra item you do not need or love, place it in the basket. When it is full, make a trip to your local donation center.
- Open all your kitchen cabinets and drawers. If you have any duplicates or items that you have not cooked with in over a year, donate them to someone who will actually use them.
- Look at your bathroom product stash. It is easy to fall prey to the promise of a new product, but usually these lotions and potions don’t work as perfectly as they promise. Gather these partially used products (shampoos, hair treatments, lotions, soaps, deodorants, etc.) and ask friends if they want to try any of them. Perhaps they’ll work better for someone else and it is a more eco friendly way to get rid of these items that cannot be donated. But if no one else wants the item, forgive yourself for the bad purchase and perish it to the rubbish bin. Your uncluttered bathroom will thank you.
- Do a quick sweep of your closet. Hopefully you’ll be more thorough later, but this is a quick unclutter sweep. Take a look at what you have in your dressers and closets and donate the items you know right away do not fit well or make you feel good about yourself. If it does not make you look your best, why keep it?
- The fastest way to make any messy room appear cleaner is to remove all items from every surface. Clear off every counter, cluttered shelf, table, windowsill, and dresser top. Put every item where it belongs and wipe down the surfaces. Consider limiting your shelf décor to create more free space that looks much cleaner.
Now look around and appreciate all that you have. Next time you feel tempted to bring something else home, remind yourself how you already have enough. Living with enough is a pretty great feeling to have.
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