Those who know me can tell you I love love LOVE garage sales. I live for vintage and craft markets and anything that falls into the knick knack category (scented candles, incense sticks, random jars…the works). In my late teens and early 20s, I had so much junk and it was everywhere. My bedroom walls were bursting with stuff. Many of these things I could only wear or use once (that sky high purple shoe) then they would never see the light of day again.
When I moved out at 24, I just couldn’t take all that stuff with me, and so my life of minimalism began. Very soon my concept of things and the acquiring of it began to change. I quickly realized that things do not equate to happiness. That the more things you own does not guarantee or generate contentment. Actually, quite the opposite.
Later on in my 20s I was introduced to Buddhism which explained the concept of attachment and how we as people get attached to things, ideas and people. This concept indicates that when you are attached to things, you will never be satisfied. You are either unhappy because you don’t have what you want, or you are unhappy because you have it and can’t fathom losing it (think of that diamond engagement ring or that iPhone).
This in turn gives us a sense of deep insatiable emptiness which needs constant filling. The more we have, the more we want. But who can blame us? The hyper consumerism that is encouraged and shoved at us is insane and continues to get worse. Society (us) says in a lot of ways that the more you have, the better off and happier you are. We are programmed to believe that we need the big (full of random stuff) house, the fancy car, the expensive vacations, because every where we turn, there is someone or something telling us that this is life.
I totally get it. The massive sales, the fast fashion phenomena, the YouTube and Instagram influencers telling you to buy buy buy. We just can’t comprehend minimalistic living; a fulfilling life with less stuff.
Living minimally suggest different things to different people. There is no right or wrong way to live minimally as it is a deeply personal task. The general focus is choosing to get the most out of life with less. Some people change their entire lives by dropping everything they own and move to the most rural location with only the absolute necessities whereas others simply address their living space. For me, I stopped spending unnecessarily on things I didn’t need. I stopped partaking in fast fashion, flash sales and so on, and bought only what I considered valuable. This sometimes cost me alot initially, but I saves so much more in the long run.
But what have I learned through years of living this way? I mean, I still have scented candles on every surface, Buddha statues in every room, books on every table. So what exactly does minimal living mean to me? How have I found joy living minimally? Here’s how:
The less I desired, the less time, energy and money I wasted on things I didn’t need. I no longer feel the strong compulsion to always have more because what I do have is highly valuable to me and I am satisfied. Yes there are still things I need to address (that wardrobe and bookshelf for sure) but my main goal is not acquiring excessive stuff. I purchase good quality items which serves its purpose sufficiently and lasts me a long time. I now have room to pursue other things that are beyond physical possessions. It puts me in a better place (financially, mentally, emotionally) as I am not consistently preoccupied with having more in order to BE more.
You can’t get away from it. When you sit down to declutter, you can find purpose (in your mind) for every single item. Hence, many times, not getting rid of anything at all. We pack them up and move them under the bed or on top of the wardrobe or in the garage. It takes alot of retrospection to get rid of things.
To move forward in your new way of thinking, you need to ask yourself some serious questions. Questions that rang in my mind were, why do I keep buying all this stuff? Why do what other people have influence the type of consumer I am? Why do I believe that this is what life is about? These are not easy questions to answer and it involves admitting and accepting some uncomfortable truths about ourselves. This revelation is absolutely necessary though, because if we don’t understand and embrace this lifestyle and see ourselves in it, we will only continue to perpetuate destructive habits.
Recognizing you’re still living
Whenever I thought of minimalism I thought of the extreme. For me, this is not what it’s about. Remember this is a very personal journey to those living it. For our household it means that we will be responsible consumers, who do as little damage to the environment as possible while cherishing and appreciating the things we already own and that which we acquire in the future. This means that we still have a nicely decorated apartment, still own a car, still indulge in nice vacations; but it also means we eliminate things in other areas we don’t consider important or valuable to us. There are many resources online, even books that can help steer you in a direction of learning how to be happy while living with less.
Being contented and investing in what truly makes us happy should be the end goal. It surely is mine. I treasure moments and experiences more than I do of material things. Thinking about my new refrigerator never brought a smile on my face such as the one when remembering eating ice cream with my nieces and nephew.
When I get old and grey, my experiences and memories are what will make me reminiscent of a life well lived, not acquiring a pair of diamond earnings.
In the end, we should ask ourselves this. When we’re broken hearted, when we’ve lost a loved one, when we lose our jobs, when illness strikes us; does the money or the extra car embrace us and comfort us? No. Our friends and family do. Living simply enables us to grow in so many ways. It gives us the opportunity to reach a place where we can understand the importance of maintaining healthy relationships while seeing clearly, our life’s purpose.
What do you think of minimalism? Do you think you can live as a minimalist? Are you already one? Share with us!
Thanks for stopping by!
Oh! and P.S Simple Joys and Apartment Hunting – What Every First Time Renter Should Know.
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