Five Steps Towards Minimalism You Can Take Today OR: Why The Stuff We Own Actually Owns Us


Wellbeing / Saturday, March 17th, 2018

I think I have known for quite some time that something is wrong with the way most people spend their money, but at the start of this year I got to a point where I realised that I don’t want to be part of this system anymore. You will be reading quite a lot about Minimalism on my blog since I believe it is one of the most relevant movements of our time.

Consumer Madness

Source

Everyone tells us that we need to buy this TV and that food processor and that it is going to make our lives better and happier if we own certain things. But if we are honest to oursevles, then we often feel bad after our purchase because we think we spent too much money (or, even worse, money we have not even earned yet) or the item we bought ends up laying around (sometimes not even unpacked) and adds more stress to our daily lives because we have to maintain, clean and look after it. Isn’t this the opposite to what we are looking for? Instead of feeling freer and happier, we start to come to the realisation that although we bought all this stuff it has actually started to own us.

Sure, we do need material things in our lives, but if we start questioning how much and what we actually require, we understand that so many things in our lives are in fact optional to own and that we only own them because we either think we should, we feel like everyone has them or they were on sale (probably the worst reason to buy something).

Let’s Define Minimalism

Over the summer holidays I started reading a book on Minimalism and I loved it so much that I read four more books on the same topic. I finally felt like I had found a concept that was speaking to me and had the potential to change my life for the better. So within a timeframe of four weeks, I had read the following books:

Minimalism: More of Less (James Latham)

Minimalism: The Mindful Minimalist: 30 Days to Simplify Your Life (Mitch Gardner and Janice Gray)

Minimalism: Understand, Declutter, Maintain, Live (Livie Wright)

Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify (Francine Jay)

Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism (Fumio Sasaski)

I had awkward feelings of enlightenment at many points while reading these books, there is just so much truth in them and I felt felt like I had lived in the dark for far too long.

I always thought Minimalism meant to get rid of pretty much everything I owned and that sounded quite depressing to me. After all, I have worked so hard to buy these things, right? But Minimalism isn’t about making you miserable, it is about finding the right amount of things you need to be happy, free and independent. And trust me, the number of those things is more than likely a lot smaller than you are currently imagining, but it is also different for every individual. Minimalism is not about competition, nobody is winning because they own the least amount of things. Instead, it is about finding yourself and exploring what brings you happiness. As we all know and probably agree on, the best things in life aren’t things and Minimialism is exactly emphasizing that.

Owning less things opens up a lot of new opportunities. How many people turn down a great job offer that requires them to relocate because it would be too much hassle to move all their stuff? How many people don’t go on a longer vacation because they are scared they might get robbed? The list goes on…

Take Action – 5 Easy Steps to Start Right Now

So what have I learned from all my research and from reading these books?

  1. ONE ITEM A DAY

Don’t tink you need to change everything in a day. While situations where you are forced to declutter (such as moving house) can be helpful, you don’t have to throw everything out that you own. Again, this is not what Minimalism is about. Instead, try to get rif of ONE ITEM PER DAY to start your Minimalism journey. This could be a piece of clothing, a kitchen item, an old book, game, DVD, something from your shed or pantry etc. The list is endless. You will find it quite easy and at the end of the year you will be 365 items lighter. Just make sure your things don’t go into landfill if not absolutely necessary. So instead of actually throwing something out everyday, add the items to a labelled box such as ‘Sell on ebay’, ‘Donations’ etc. and empty them once a month.

2. ONE AREA AT A TIME

When doing some serious decluttering, always focus on ONE AREA ONLY. Don’t try to tackle the kitchen and your wardrobe in one day. You will get overwhelmed and feel frustrated. Think even smaller: “Today I am going to declutter this particular shelf or section of my wardrobe.” This will make the process easier and you will feel like you have achieved something bit by bit.

3. THE HAPPINESS TEST

When decluttering, ask yourself: “Does this particular item fill me with joy? Does it make me HAPPY? Is it adding something positive to my life?” If not, it probably doesn’t belong in your household. Also, always take everything out of your area (cupboard etc.) and only put things back that pass the happiness test.

4. BE MINDFUL OF SHOPPING AND SALES

Try to avoid places that may make you buy more things. You don’t have to go to the shops just because and it doesn’t matter if things are on sale if you don’t need them. Ask yourself what is necessary and what brings you joy. How often are you actually going to use this item? Simply the fact of being mindful what you buy will change your attitude about shopping.

5. SET YOURSELF A CHALLENGE

Come up with a challenge for yourself that will help you on your Minimalism journey. This challenge will be different for everyone because we all desire different things. Me personally, I love buying new clothes, but I realise that sometimes I buy too many or don’t really think of how often I will actually wear an item. So I set myself the challenge to not buy clothes for 90 days and I currently have two weeks to go. Not only has this shown me that I can do it and saved me some money, but I have also started creating a list of clothing items I would like to buy. I look at it every now and then and find myself crossing things off the list again because I have changed my mind. In the future, I only want to buy things I have had on my list for a while. Whichever challenge you come up with, I am sure you will learn something about yourself and you will be one step closer to a balanced life. I would love to hear your stories!

 

 

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