Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Why I Started a Minimalist Lifestyle

Hello, readers!

I am sure you have heard about the topic of today’s blog post somewhere because it is everywhere, it is trending. A lot of times, I am skeptical of many of the things the masses are following. But every now and then, I discover that there is good reason for the popularity. It happened with Harry Potter! And well, minimalism turned out like that too.

First of all, please don’t run. Minimalism doesn’t mean living in a tiny space, having only one or two outfits of clothing, being cheap, and not being able to enjoy the things in life because you can’t have them, buy them or indulge in them. It’s actually quite the contrary: a concept that invites you to get rid of all the things that don’t actually matter to enjoy the things that do. Therefore, helping you enjoy life more.

So, what is minimalism then? I’m going to have to quote The Minimalists for this one because they describe it so well:

"Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom."

I don’t remember the first time I heard about minimalism. But I do remember I used to think it was for people that wanted to live somewhere exotic, probably in a tree house, not own a home or car or clothes, etc., secluded from many of the things I knew brought joy to my life, like books. After all, books are things. And so is the kindle I really want to buy! However, I do remember the first time I figured that minimalism was not really what I thought it was (although if that’s the kind of life you want, it can help you get there). It was in Jennifer L. Scott’s book Lessons From Madame Chic, where she talks about having a capsule wardrobe and how clutter is so not chic. Not only had I the wrong idea about minimalism but now knew that it was attainable and that I wanted in because it sounded so freeing.

I really did have an epiphany. I looked around all the things I had around my apartment, all the clothes and all the shoes, old kitchen wear, useless objects that only took space, and I realized that all of it made me feel overwhelmed on a daily basis. And it felt so great that despite what our highly consumerist society constantly communicates, there was a different way of living. A better way of living.

Soon after I read the book I was getting married and moving to a different country. I took that chance to get rid of so much of my stuff. I won’t tell you it was easy. I struggled with not wanting to get rid of many things because “what if I need them later”? Then I realized I had told myself the same thing about that particular item for years, yet I had still not used it in years! I managed to donate most of my stuff and ended up with all I owned in three large home depot boxes and two suitcases. I know I could still have gone with less. But it was a good start, and it felt pretty great.

Today, around three years later, I have gotten a lot better about not mindlessly shopping for stuff, including my closet. I have a capsule wardrobe now! (A special post about the capsule wardrobe is coming soon). I’m not perfect, I still feel the pressure of consumerism sometimes but I it’s not significant anymore. It has been a learning process. I stopped for a period of time and came back to it and then stopped again. But now, I can truly say I have been implementing it mostly all of the time, constantly. I have a feeling I am getting somewhere. Breaking habits is not easy, and this lifestyle breaks through so much conditioning learned for years.

As a future mom, I have already been tempted to purchase SO MANY things for the arrival of our baby. Every time I log on to social media, I am bombarded by adds of so many different items and the reason I NEED to get them. As I future new mom, I have to admit many are tempting. But it has been easier than ever to say "no" and identify them as mostly marketing tactics. If I do need something, however, for the baby's safety, need or to make my life easier, I will get it. Don't get me wrong. I am not extreme! But for the most part, I've stuck to the basics and many of the things loving friends and family have been so generous to gift to us. It’ll be a journey, for sure! Again, I am no master. And, by the way, I do plan to take you along with me. ;)

Enough of me! Why should you start a minimalist lifestyle? Well, like I said, because it’s life changing. But, how can such a concept be so life changing? Let’s look at some of the benefits:

  • De-materializes yourself. First and foremost, it helps you see that we don’t need to have stuff to be happy. Yes, some things bring us joy and that is find. But not true fulfillment. You can detach from the concept the big corporations have instilled in our minds that we need things to be worthy, happy, successful, accepted, etc.  
  • Less stress. A lot of the stress in our lives is due to not having the things you think  we need. And a lot of the things we think we need are physical possessions. When you realize that you don’t actually need them to be happy, the pressure is off! You can still work towards things you want but no longer feel pressured to have them. And when you can see that, you realize that there is very little we actually need. 
  • Clears your mind. Anyone that has ever declutter their closet, a junk drawer, or any room or part of their house knows the freeing feeling it gives you. Living with less stuff automatically provides more peace.  
  • Extra money. When you make a conscious decision to own fewer things, you spend less! And you can use that extra money for something more valuable. Like an experience.  
  • Quality over quantity. When you do acquire things, you put more thought into it. No more mindless shopping. You end up with fewer things but ones you actually really like and enjoy having.  
  • More time. Having less stuff around the house will lead to having to pick up less stuff. Therefore, giving you more time to do things you like.  
  • Better for the environment. The less we consume, the less harm we will make to the environment. 

As you can see, a minimalist lifestyle is not just a current fad that is only meant for hippies (nothing against hippies). But it’s something attainable for us all and the way the world is right now, probably one of the greatest concepts to embrace for a healthy living, as its benefits are deeper than just dealing with the extra stuff we have around the house.

Don’t freak out. If you decide to embark on this lifestyle, you don’t have to get rid of all of your stuff all at once (although you could if you wanted to). Any habit takes time to engrave in our lives. You can take baby steps. For example, start with decluttering your closet. Get rid of and donate all those clothes you know you will not use anymore. Or start by decluttering the kitchen, all those junk drawers. And then, on another day, go into another room and declutter that room or a closet in that room. Next time you go to a mall, don't just buy anything for the only sake of buying.

This lifestyle is not for everyone and that is fine! But if this article sparked something in you, then maybe it is for you. And if so, I urge you to try it. There are many resources that can help you get into this lifestyle. All it takes a googling of "new to minimalism" or "how to start minimalism" and they will pop up! I'll leave links to some resources down below. And remember, every one has their path and you don't have to become extreme or follow every single thing they tell you to do on how to start. The point of minimalism is to make your life easier, not stress! So, like everything in life, do what is right for you, enjoy the journey and take as fast or slow as you'd like at your own pace.

How to start from The Minimalists

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

Marie Kondo material

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