You know that feeling you get when you are suddenly obsessed with something and you have no idea why? You can’t seem to make a logical connection between that thing and your life, but you can’t deny that there’s something very important going on there? That’s how I feel about minimalism right now. I am obsessed with minimalism.
When I can’t sleep I watch YouTube videos of people living in tiny apartments or houses with a minimalist approach. I marvel at their strategies to keep only the essential things according to their unique needs. I am utterly thrilled by how compact their home lives can be.
When visualizing the future, I often have the sudden urge to weed stuff out I don’t use. I am starting to think that minimalism is more than just de-cluttering for peace of mind – like weeding a garden it is necessary so that you can grow the elements of your life that will lead you to your next phase of extraordinary success… so the limitations of yesterday may whither and disappear.
What is minimalism? It’s an ideology mainly. An ideology that can be tailored to your world. Here’s a description I like from TheMinimalists.com:
Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
There are many flavors of minimalism: a 20-year-old single guy’s minimalist lifestyle looks different from a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist lifestyle. Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life.
Getting started is as simple as asking yourself one question: How might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?
Although I always had enough food to eat, shelter and creature comforts while growing up, after my parents split up, as with so many families, there was always some concern in the air about money. My dad moved into a small apartment rental. And at the farmhouse with my mom we kept the heat on low during the winter, stoking the wood stoves for warmth, and wearing slippers and sweaters so as not to jack the gas bill up.
When I was 14 my dad told me I should make my own money since there wasn’t much extra for allowance. So I got a job at the farm up the street weeding the pumpkin patch during the summer for $5/hour. Then I moved on to washing dishes at the local Italian restaurant. Over those years I became aware of the strain that can come with the basic costs of living.
This is likely what caused me to associate stuff with stress… to associate large living spaces and extra purchases with burdens or anxiety… to know in my bones that what was of value wasn’t how many different rooms or treasures we had, but the many happy and stress-free times we shared that had nothing to do with things.
Yet the pull of consumerism is strong and it’s nearly impossible not to associate a big home and lots of lovely things with the idea of success. Letting go of those things can feel like you are stripping yourself of the evidence that you “made it”. You are suddenly confronted with your own feelings of self-worth (or lack thereof), and must decide if you feel worthy without your fortress of things.
But the thing that keeps nagging me with my infatuation with minimalism, is that I think it goes beyond just making sure you’re living within your means and thereby not stressing. I think it’s about unburdening yourself of the baggage of yesterday so you can very cleanly and clearly create the life you hope to move into tomorrow.
In the past year I have done some incredible cleansing of things from my space. In doing so, I have realized that my 400 square foot apartment is so much bigger than I thought (photo above). Now I am craving going to a whole other level of minimizing. I’d love to tell you all about the stuff I’ve unloaded, but this post has gone long so perhaps I’ll save it for another day.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you The Minimalists’ excellent question: How might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?
And my question is, what new thing is trying to come through that your material possessions might be blocking?
Oh and one more: Would your self-worth take a hit if you didn’t have “evidence” of that worth in the stuff you own or place you live?
Please forward this to anyone you know who you think might benefit…
And please let me know in the comments what’s going on with your relationship with stuff…? I’m so curious.