You may have heard of the term minimalism before. Essentially, it means giving up your physical possessions to concentrate on things that are more important, like family, friends, work, and activities. It doesn’t necessarily mean living a simpler life, but instead prioritizing things that are important to living a happy life. There have been a number of scientific studies that show that “things” can provide a brief boost in mood that simulates happiness. Unfortunately, it’s not true happiness and and quickly fades. We condition ourselves to keep pursuing that boost in “happiness” by buying or collecting more and more stuff.
Minimalists believe that forgoing this false sense of pleasure and concentrating on things that do actually make us happy, like family (well, this one might be debatable), friends, work, and activities, we can live more fulfilling lives. While living with fewer possessions is a big part of minimalism there are other areas of importance as well. It’s really a mindset change that will allow you to see the world is a less cluttered way. It will help you deal with what can be a very overwhelming world.
So how does one become a minimalist? Well I’m glad you asked. When I started researching the minimalist mindset a few years ago I read a bunch of blogs and to try and figure out how I embrace the culture as fast as possible. The conclusion I eventually came to is that everyone who is serious about this lifestyle has to reach it at their own pace and on their own path. There is no shortcut (well maybe hypnosis, I didn’t try it but now I wish I had).
“If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” Tao Te Ching.
I started in the area that was easiest for me: disposing of possessions. Now I didn’t get rid of everything of course and I started slow. I went through my apartment, room by room and looked like everything I owned. At the time it didn’t seem like much but now when I look back at it I don’t know how I had accumulated so much crap. I asked myself two questions about every piece of furniture, clothing, knick knack, or whatever else:
Can I remember the last time I used this?
Does it have personal significance?
I created what I expected to be a small pile in my living room. As it grew and grew I expanded it to my bedroom and the kitchen. It was incredible how much stuff I had that I couldn’t remember when I’d last used. I had a big garage sale and sold almost everything over a weekend. What I didn’t sell I donated to charity. I had to repeat this process a couple more times because there was stuff, mostly clothes that I thought I really needed but eventually realized I didn’t.
No my home is clutter free and really easy to keep clean. It’s very refreshing to not have to worry about spending a lot of time cleaning or thinking about where I’m going to store stuff. After disposing of so many possessions I found that my mindset towards ownership and design slowly began to change. The first few months were tough but I gave up shopping and moved my remaining furniture and possessions around to make better use of my space. I also undertook a massive digital clean-up by reorganizing old files and pictures and started incorporating minimalist ideals into my design projects. As you’ve probably recognized, this site is short on bells and whistles and that’s exactly the way I like it.
Becoming a minimalist is not easy, much like a diet or exercise regimen it takes dedication and a strong support system. But I can honestly say my work is better than ever and I feel as though my personal relationships have also improved. It may not be for everyone but I’ve found great satisfaction in living a less cluttered and more pointed life.