I looked for happiness in things only to lose my sanity in the process
For my husband and I, 2020 is the year of transition; we spent most of it moving in and out of apartments and are still doing so up to this day. Weighed down by our current circumstances, we questioned our values, identified what was important to us, and realized that downsizing was the only way go.
Fast forward to today, we are minimalists in transition enjoying a rich life with less.
Don’t get the wrong idea though, I’m not trying to paint you a rosy picture where minimalism is the best lifestyle out there. I just want to briefly share how I got into minimalism and why it makes sense to me, in hopes that you may find value in my journey.
To give you more clarity, minimalism is a lifestyle, a movement, or a “tool to freedom” according to the Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus. In their own words, they say:
“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…”
Simply put, I would define minimalism as:
the choice to live life intentionally, without distractions, in order to have more time, energy, money, and space for who/what really matters.
Despite its growing momentum, minimalism is only practiced by a few and still misunderstood by many. According to a poll conducted in August 2018 by CivicScience, minimalism is popular among Millennials but more of an aspiration to other age groups.
Most of the American adults surveyed (2,900+) couldn’t care less about this lifestyle:
- 65% weren’t interested,
- 10% already identified themselves as minimalists,
- 14% were transitioning into minimalism, and
- 11% were aspiring to join this movement someday.
Statistics will vary from one region to another, from one age group to another; so many factors play a role in determining the actual population of people that practice this. For instance, I personally don’t know anyone that identifies as a minimalist aside from my husband.
Like many before me, I chose to be a minimalist in order to be inline with my values, namely: eco-friendliness, conscious consumption, intentional living, and mindfulness, among others.
Am I a minimalist guru? obviously not, I’m a “always-changing-constantly-improving minimalist”. Simply put, I’m writing this so that you can question your actual lifestyle and see if there is room for improvement.
Practicing minimalism isn’t that difficult once your life is in order. First things first, declutter, organize, evaluate, and then re-evaluate the utility of EVERYTHING you own (and yes, sentimental items are included). Once that is settled, think before you introduce new items into your household. And finally, set some guidelines that you can respect. For instance, here are some of my own:
- Buy to replace, not to accumulate
- Window shop first
- Don’t upgrade without a valid reason
- Consume less (*not just applicable to material objects*)
- Recycle what you can
What’s important is to start small, stick to the guidelines (the ones you’ve set for yourself), and focus on the process. Soon after, you will reap the fruits of your efforts.
Case in point, directed focus is one of the many positive outcomes I noticed almost immediately after getting my life together. Today, I get to choose what to focus on because I have less stuff to deal with; I don’t waste time looking for things, nor do I have silent distractions (aka visual clutter) all over the place. Another plus is detachment from material objects; every item I own either brings me joy or adds value to my life; if otherwise, then I let it go.
On the other hand, one inconvenience could be waiting a while before purchasing an item and consequently, temporarily sacrificing comfort. For example, living without a sofa for a couple of weeks because a high quality, locally made one isn’t easy to find. Today, I tend to think about the lifecycle of each item I introduce to my space: where and how was it manufactured, how sustainable is it, etc. I stopped walking into IKEA and buying the next best thing (when I go to IKEA, I have a list and I avoid the showroom).
Don’t mindlessly shop. Look for happiness in people and not in objects.