After losing most of my belongings in a fire, it has only amplified how much we actually need versus what we want to own.
It is certainly not the spring cleaning I expected—let alone wanted or planned—but it is also an opportunity to start anew. It is a chance to embrace minimalism. Certainly you have heard of it?
There are books, podcasts, and documentaries about the minimalistic lifestyle, often described as a way to free ourselves from the societal pressures of impressing people with shiny objects in order to “keep up with the Joneses”—even when we don’t like them!
Go ahead, and put the items you haven’t touched in a month into a box, and forget about them for three to six months. You might be surprised by how fast you forget you even own them.
Occasionally, there are moments when I “miss” certain shirts due to current weather conditions, but only having a limited amount of clothing on hand makes the decision process on what to wear much easier, faster, and, most importantly, less stressful. Honestly, even before my current living situation, I would find myself wearing pretty much the same clothes over and over again anyway—only proving to myself that there was plenty to donate already.
Also, not having an actual home at the moment keeps one from purchasing anything useless; it is amazing that merely by not having a physical area to bring an item home to encourages one to make smarter purchasing decisions. I’m not saying to become homeless on purpose, but once you have cleared out your space and have lived in your much more voluminous place for a couple weeks, take the time to really reflect on how you feel in your home:
>> Do you feel free?
>> Have more room to breathe?
>> Find yourself thinking more clearly?
>> Are your more creative? More decisive?
>> Do you have more time, due to cleaning less?
>> Are you less stressed?
Just like our physical state of health, our environment is just as important to our overall well-being. And just like the number on a scale isn’t the only measurement of progress, so are the number of items in our living space.
Less is more: more time, more space, more meaningful items, and more purposeful items.
Not convinced yet?
Let me ask you a question: have you ever been to a furniture store? When you walked around the store, did you feel more inspired, more at ease, or picture yourself living in the provided space? Do you think this was due to the store having everything perfectly arranged or was it because there wasn’t any extra “stuff” piled on top of dressers, couches, chairs, tables, or overcrowded shelves and junk drawers about to bust at the seams?
What about your past stays in hotels? Did you not you feel more relaxed not having to look at crowded corners, constantly reminding you that no matter how much you clean, it still won’t feel tidy?
What is the point of owning a 2000-square foot home and a three-car garage when you stuff it with so many things that you are forced to park your car outside and even think about either moving to a bigger home or consider renting a storage unit?
Are you hiding? Building a fortress to protect yourself from the outside world?
Yes, I have envisioned myself living in a tiny house and traveling the country with only the bare necessities, because let’s be honest: we want space, not stuff, but definitely, space!
We get extremely attached to our material belongings, when in reality the only meaningful treasure to keep are the people we surround ourselves with, and the memories we create with them. None of our goods come with us when we depart this life; why leave the burden of sorting through our things to the people we love?
When we look inward and are honest with ourselves, we cannot deny what we truly want: which is not to be forgotten, to have mattered, and to live on in the memories and stories of our families and friends.
People matter most, always.
So, regardless of you buying into the minimalistic lifestyle or not, I bet you own a lot of things that could benefit someone else. Give it away, donate it, trade it, or have a yard sale. I can guarantee you will feel a huge weight lifting off your shoulders; it’s not sacrificing things you worked for but, rather, gaining a life that is meaningful. True freedom.
Minimalism: in a time when money is tight, it becomes even more important to use, reuse, and not waste.
Give it a try!