I’m not sure when was the first time that I heard the term minimalist, might have been a TED talk or a blog posts, but I can clearly remember that once I started digging into the subject I felt like I had discovered something that I wish I had stumbled upon years ago. This realization of knowing that you can actually be a lot happier once you start simplifying your life in every aspect makes so much sense that it is amazing that more people are not learning about it. To tell you the truth Minimalism in many ways goes against everything that we are tough and exposed on a daily basis which is that we need to have the big house, the newer car and the trendy clothes and accessories in order to be happier. The media is selling us a life that most people dream of and that at the same time most people will never get to experience, every tv channel and magazine is filled with the latest hollywood gossip and luxury ads of a never-ending trend of spending more and more. At what point do we say enough is enough and truly start enjoying life for what it is and start living today, enjoying every simple moment in life.
We are currently in the process of moving out of the country to embark in our 5 month exploration of SE. Asia, as the weeks get closer to our departure date we will be moving everything that we own in our current apartment and putting them in a storage room for the upcoming months. As we started packing we see how many things we have laying around that we barely ever use, we have been at the current place for over a year and there were a couple of boxes that we never got to unpack. How crazy is this? we let so much clutter into our lives that if we don’t do anything to stop it, and we keep buying and buying stuff, we will eventually give up on our happiness and dreams for this destructive path of buying and buying more.
Once you start minimalizing your life, you will suddenly start realizing how much more free time you have, how much more money you are able to save and at the end of the day how happier you become. This is by no means an easy process, specially for people who are really attached to their belongings. If you are hardcore like us and can start letting go of things easily you might not have a very hard time becoming a minimalist, a few visits to goodwill, a few items on ebay and craigslist will usually do the trick. But if you are someone who tends to be more attached to your belongings there are a couple of things that you can do in order to start your path into a minimalist life.
How to begin decluttering your life and becoming a minimalist for a happier life.
1. The first step is to realize that you do not need any material things in oder to be happy since happiness comes within yourself. Once you start thinking about this and start realizing that you can be happy with whatever you have you will start realizing how many things we buy in an ongoing basis that are not necessary and that do not add any value to our daily lives. Once you are able to internalize and truly believe this, then you can start looking around your house for things that you barely ever use, which brings us to our second point.
2. Try to identify what objects and things you have not used in the past 3 months, chances are that you really do not need these things and you are better off without having them around. How many things do you have in storage that have remained there for years in boxes gathering dust? Other than Christmas decorations which you actually use, boxes of photo albums and videos, and some other exceptions most households start accumulating and storing many things that simply do not give us any value, not only they do not add value but actually consume our time since we have to pay attention that they will not break, get stolen or lost, some of them we have to clean and organize… etc. You can start small, simply picking a few items and either selling them or donating them will help you move in the right direction.
3. Time to GET RID OF STUFF, once you have identified a couple of items that you know you never use, put them back to good use by either selling them to someone who hopefully will use them, or donating them. When was the last time you used those shirts at the bottom of your closet? You know you always end up using the same 3 shirts that you like so much, I’m sure I can check your phone pictures and find you with the same outfit most of the time 😉 then why keep all of those clothes, shoes and things you no longer use. While you have all those shirts sitting there doing no good, but just adding clutter to your life, there are people not far from your house who probably can’t afford to get a new shirt. The same goes for the boxes full of junk in the garage, the orange juice maker you never use (we actually got rid of ours, we used it once and had it for 3 years moving it to 3 different apartments in different states), it might sound like something small, but once you start adding everything you have that you do not use it starts adding up.
4. This is probably the most important step and where the cycle ends and begins depending on how you look at it. STOP BUYING SHIT!!!! Seriously, stop buying so much, but only the things you definitely need in your life. We live in a consumerist culture, where people celebrate the acquisition of things, but at the same time give their lives to a job they hate because of the very need to buy new things. Free yourself from this consumerist cycle, the less you spend on things, the more money you have to enjoy life experiences. Next time you are at the mall stop and think “DO I REALLY REALLY NEED THIS?” once you do this experiment you will find out that a lot of the things you used to buy are no longer of your interest. A good way to think about this is to convert the cost of whatever you are buying to some other life experience. That new speaker system that you want so much (but you know the one you already have still works just fine) costs the same $650 bucks that costs a full all-inclusive 3 day vacation to Cancun, Mexico. What do you think will be more enjoyable and will give you longer term happiness? Really think about every purchase you make and decide for yourself if it is really worth the price you are paying for it by giving up on some other life experience.
Check out the following gallery of minimalist interior design. Often times less is more.
As you become aware of all of your possessions you will start valuing more what you already have and the upcoming purchases you make, because you know that whatever you decide to own will be of great value to you. Because of this it might even happen that you start buying better things if you decide, for example instead of having 4 pair of sneakers that you barely use, you get to buy the one pair that you always wanted, they might be a little bit more expensive, but at the end they are your only pair of sneakers that you love and use regularly.
I find it very amusing how most people daydream of living richer lives, travel, spending more time with family and friends, etc and complain about it because they do not have the time for any of these, yet they are living in the huge house full of empty rooms and driving the brand new cars and always with the latest phone in their hands. If this is how you want to live your life and having all this things actually make you 100% happy all of the time, good for you as long as you are happy, but for most people I know being able to live a life of exiting experiences is what makes them happy. I emphasize that life is a balance, I probably won’t be one of those people living in a “tiny house”, but once you start realizing how much time and money we spend chasing the so called “american dream” of the house, car, etc we are actually giving up on our real dreams. Do not wait around to do the things you want, work hard to get them and live a life that will be worth dying for when you are ready to go!
Best of all minimalism is not only about the material possessions but you can do the same though process for anything in your life. Minimalize your bad thoughts, your stress, and all the other things that hold you back.
Just remember that minimalism isn’t about the number of things you own. It’s about being mindful of what you do own. It’s not about traveling the world with nothing, it’s about valuing people and experiences over material obsessions.
I live you with a great video from The Minimalist, and encourage you to read their blog.