This buzzword has made its rounds across the internet so much that what was once an obscure group of people is now a beloved movement that even my mom has heard of. And honestly, minimalism has changed my life more than any other idea. Let that sink in for a moment.
Prioritize What Serves You and Ditch the Rest
I first encountered minimalism around the same time that I encountered the zero waste movement, and it was as though I’d found my people–my eyes were wide open, my spirit was invigorated, and the way in which I experienced my life and my consciousness on the day-to-day was permanently altered.
The first time that I encountered minimalism, I sat up all night reading stories about fascinating, energetic people who made a conscious choice to prioritize the way that they experience their life, to control their environment as a means to create clarity within their minds. To create mental and physical space for the things that enrich their lives.
The idea of minimalism was so simple, but it changed every aspect of my life.
As a person with anxiety, I feel the burden of everything. E V E R Y T H I N G. Learning to clarify my space and my mind took a lot of time, uncertainty, and discomfort, but I gained it back in peace of mind. I learned to distill my life to include only the things that made me feel alive.
Clutter Controlled My Mood
I didn’t realize the control that my things had on me until I took an honest, close look at my daily behavior.
My day would begin like this: wake up, dig for clean socks and clothes from the growing pile of laundry (and goddess forbid if the clean pile began to merge with the dirty pile), wash some dishes, move clutter around on the counter to chop vegetables, wash a knife and cutting board and pan, get overwhelmed, pile books and pens and cords onto a chair so I could eat my breakfast at the table….and all of this would occur before 8:00 am.
Often, the little free time I had away from work would be filled with housework and trying to bring my home into a state of equilibrium.
By having so much stuff, I was subjecting myself to constant ambient stress and anxiety that was completely unnecessary and unrelated to my actual, true life. When I imagined my dream life, I sure as heck didn’t imagine even half of my possessions in it. So why did I hang on to all of it?
Guilt, obligation, fear, and habit.
Really Though, What is Minimalism?
Depending who you ask, the answer will be drastically different.
In short, minimalism is a way to declutter your physical space and your mental space to make more room for the things that enrich your life. Minimalism is a way to cleanse your life of that which grates against your goals and serenity. Minimalism is living with intention. Minimalism is bare appreciation. How you arrive to it, and how you define it, is entirely your journey, and yours alone. However you do it though, make sure that it aligns with your will.
That said, minimalists do seem to have a few things in common–and nope, it’s not just about decluttering. It goes a little deeper than that.
While I could talk on and on and on about what minimalism is, and I certainly will in another post, below are some general ideas that always seem intertwined with minimalism.
Common Characteristics of Minimalists
>Removing mental clutter. Our minds get bogged down with a lot of stuff. Removing mental clutter is usually achieved through list-making, learning to say “no”, tackling to-do lists like a champ, releasing yourself from obligations that do not serve you, and so much more.
>Donating excess possessions. Generally, to reach a true state of freedom from items, to really not have to deal with them anymore, you must donate a lot of your stuff. No amount of “storage solutions” will help, trust me. Clarifying your home gives you the physical and mental space for exploration and deep relaxation.
>Frugality. Money is an unfortunate catch of the modern world. We are born under capitalism and we’ll likely die under it. Don’t waste the sacred life moments that you spent at work by purchasing items that you’ll likely donate later. Be intentional with where your money goes. Money represents time.
>Finding what makes you feel alive. A lot of us live in perpetual survival mode, going from one thing to the next quickly and with little pleasure (but a heck of a lot of obligation). We’re exhausted. It’s so vital to find the things that make your heart soar, and do them with vigor. The act of play and exploration is sacred. The essential point of minimalism is to free up your mental space and your physical space so you can follow your true will without distraction.
>Living with intention. I’ve mentioned this word intention throughout this post, and it’s an important one. Intention is the deepest root of minimalism. How many times do we impulsively pull out our phone when we experience discomfort, boredom, or dread? How often do we drive somewhere and barely remember the ride? Living with intention takes life from being a race from point A to point B, and makes it enjoyable, like a playful dance, all the way along. This is not easy to achieve. It takes practice and devotion. It takes reading, and absorbing, and processing.
However, never forget that the process IS the intention. You’re doing it now, even if you don’t feel it. You’re continuously moving into the space of intention. Let yourself feel it fully.
>Reducing waste. While not every minimalist is a believer of the “zero waste” lifestyle, most of them are hyper-aware of their consumption habits and the waste that results from them. This topic is complex, so I won’t go into it too much here, but I will say that exploring the many implications of “waste reduction” in your own life, even beyond trash, is monumentally helpful, especially tied into the experience of living with intention.
>Digital detox and decluttering. We can’t really escape technology, and honestly, most of us don’t want to. This is perfectly fine. Just don’t let it become as real as the physical plane. This topic can be a post in itself, however I will say that the act of banning yourself from social media for periods of time (such as after dinner, or during weekends), is refreshing. I deleted my Facebook months ago and I felt a huge wash of relief, and freedom. Another aspect of the digital decluttering is cleaning up your computer files and organizing your email inbox.
Where to Go from Here
Here you are, right now, reading this post. If you’re here, you’re likely feeling the weight of the world, or at least the weight of your life. I understand. I feel that too. Just being here at all means that you’ve begun your journey. All you have to do is accept it, and move into it.
This is a process. This is a daily practice. Read, feel, write, think, process, and repeat. The repetition is the most important part. Approach this with a sense of adventure, a sense of humor, and curiosity about where this path could lead. The goal is to discover your true will, and follow it.
Thank you for sharing this time with me, dear readers. Please click that subscribe button on your way out. More posts about minimalism and other topics are in the works. ❤