Photo by Jorunn Lorenzen
While continually downsizing my collection of items, I realized I was following a trend known as minimalism.
I have come across this hot topic of keeping life simple numerous times in the last few months. It is about getting rid of physical items to make room and time for more meaningful ventures, things like spending more time with family and friends and making dreams happen.
I had unknowingly commenced my minimalist journey by only taking what I thought I absolutely needed when I moved into my own unit. From there, I began continually re-evaluating my need for what I had kept, asking myself when I last used this or wore that and what value any non-essential items had in my life, and further reducing my collection.
I didn’t have a washing machine or TV, and I borrowed a bar fridge, a vacuum and an iron. I did my day-to-day washing by hand.
Looking back, it seemed a little over the top, but to be honest I didn’t really notice these items missing from my life as I borrowed what I needed to make do.
That was when I really began to pay notice how much crap I had and how much importance I was placing on non-essential items. It became as plain as day. I wasn’t finding time for my dreams and goals because I was distracted with acquiring, cleaning and maintaining unnecessary items.
So I questioned the role each item played in my life and the ongoing impact of the cleaning, maintenance and associated costs. I began with the usual ‘Well, I haven’t worn this in twelve months, so it needs to go’. In a couple months as I got more ruthless, I got down to a staple wardrobe.
Sentimental items had to serve a purpose or add value to my life. I decided it was no good keeping a sentimental item that only added to the cleaning load. Thus, I made some hard decisions, but relief followed.
As I saved time with less cleaning and no mindless TV watching, I was able to invest that time in those big dreams I had. Whilst I was researching how to start this blog, I came across The Minimalists, and my simple life changed gears.
The two guys who call themselves The Minimalists tell a similar story, one that was like déjà-vu for me, except that they tackled simplifying their life knowingly and head-on. One began by packing up everything he owned, and then for 21 days only unpacked what he needed, getting rid of the rest.
This sounds intense, as do their other experiments, such as living without Internet access in their home or going twelve months without buying non-essential items. I understood The Minimalists were not just asking the question but actually tested the theory. Brilliant!
Their self-awareness is perfect. We know how weak we are and how easily we tell ourselves lies. These tests really help us work through the habitual thought processes related to objects we have tricked ourselves into believing we needed all these years. They acknowledged the inner struggles and managed themselves with these experiments.
Over months of self-discovery, I have begun to understand the minimal approach stretches far beyond physical items. There is an emotional simplicity I need to put just as much if not more effort into.
Working through the ‘stuff’ in my life has benefited me tremendously. Emotionally, I have felt my life becoming focused and clear. Getting rid of the physical items has paved the way for what would seem the next step in this journey, an emotional reality check. And I have no doubt there will be just as many self-discoveries in that regard, too.