The ME project: grokking minimalism

I’ve always been attracted to minimalism.

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I’m sure many of my friends, having visited my home, would never believe me.

Being attracted to it doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled with it. Sure, you see people online who literally have 100 possessions, or own one single red chair or whatever, but I have kids! They have toys! Lego! Stuff!

That single red chair person could never be me.

It was only when I read the post on Raptitude titled I don’t want any more stuff, only things that I grokked minimalism for the first time.

That lightglobe came on over my head.

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Here’s how minimalism really works

Minimalism isn’t a race. It’s not a competition. It’s not “she who owns the least, wins.”

We all have possessions. Most of us have too many. But all our possessions can be easily classified into two categories:

Things: Useful items that we use, which have a purpose, or an intrinsic value or beauty that we use and appreciate regularly. Items we take time over. Items that belong in our lives daily, or at least weekly.

Stuff: Purposeless items that we do not use, which do not have an immediate use to us, which may be pretty but do not “sing to our soul”. Items we do not have on display, which do not have a keeping-place or home, which detract from our life, and take up time, space or effort. Items we seldom or never use.

The key to minimalism isn’t about reducing to less than your neighbour has, or some guy or woman on a blog somewhere claims to have.

The key to minimalism is eliminating the stuff, and having only things in your life, thereby enriching it.

“But maybe I’ll use it someday…maybe…”

My life was filled with “maybe” stuff. Things that were “too good” to throw away or pass on, and items that I might use, or would surely use…some time soon.

They’re stuff. They’re not things.

Minimalism is also about living in the present. Planning for the future is wise, depending on how you plan. So safety mechanisms to prepare for emergencies is good, but 27 cans of soup for the Zombie Apocalypse, probably not so much. Being prudent and having good judgement is part of the picture too.

Gifts can also be a problem. What if the person asks after the items they gave you? What if they expect to see you use it and it’s long since been donated or sold?

Firstly, people never ask.
Second, get into the habit of asking people NOT to give gifts. If they insist, ask for perishables instead – a nice bottle of wine, some good quality cheese to share, some fresh flowers.

I’m grokking minimalism. Already, clearing the clutter away, I find my mental state happier and I feel more at ease since clearing my surroundings. And I’m going to continue clearing the clutter.

Find your own minimalism

Understanding what minimalism is about helps me to find my own level of comfort with the concept. I’m not going to end up with one chair, one shirt, one glass. But I will, hopefully, find freedom in owning and feeling the need to own much, much less.

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