You may have, it is sort of “trendy” nowadays. If you haven’t I’d like to give you an idea ofwhat it is all about, and the mindset behind it. You may find it is something you should look into, so I will provide some websites at the end. If you have no interest whatsoever, do one thing for me, answer this question: Do you park your $20,000 car in the driveway to make room for your $600 worth of things that you haven’t needed in years in the garage? If you answered yes, you may want to read about this and give it some thought.
Have you heard of the hugely popular book: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Is it a wonder that in the US it was a huge success? It seems Marie Kondo has a huge following; why do you think it was such a hit? I think we all know we have too much stuff, and hope that organizing it better will help; but she helps people understand that much of our items don’t “bring us joy”.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
― William Morris
How does this affect my health?
Good question! I personally believe our environment (even our homes) strongly affects our health. Imagine your house is so full of “things” that you can’t even walk down your hallway. Wouldn’t that frustrate you, and impact your mood? Well, that may be an extreme thought for most of us, but how much time have you spent looking for things in the past year? Did it frustrate you? How about finding a place to put something? Do you constantly look around your house and see things that need to be put away? I believe this affects our mindset, our attitude, and even our health.
Here is another question, how many times do you find yourself shopping “just because”? Or buying something that you know you don’t need? How much money would you save if you didn’t engage in those shopping trips? Does this overbuying contribute to financial stress? I have heard the joke, “when you walk into Walmart, grab a basket; if you get a basket, you will spend $50, if you get a cart you will spend $100”. I honestly believe it’s true.
Personally, I am faced with two kids leaving the house, with a basement of “stuff” from all those years of living in the same house and all those items accumulating. I have been working on reducing the amount of things in the basement, but it seems to go so slow. So in the back of my mind, I was already open to the idea of reducing all the excess stuff. However, I never really thought about how much it was taxing my brain, to keep all the things I “may need someday” around.
I first came upon minimalism when I accidentally found a very fun, animated woman vlogger, who started talking about miminalism. She had simple advice, like 10 things you can do to reduce your purchases, or 10 things you can do right now to reduce your stuff. It was fun, it was simple things you could do to empty out things like make up and toiletries you don’t use, or get rid of clothes you haven’t worn; easy ideas that I could do in a short time.
Then I found out about a documentary called “The Minimalists”. Their video had more of a philosophical twist. Then the minimalist world just opened up, and all of a sudden I found all these offshoot articles. I then got diverted to another documentary called “The True Cost”. It talks about how the low cost of clothes for us takes a big toll on the workers who make them. It highlights the unfair labor practices of the clothing industry as a result of our desire for short term impulse buys. So now we are almost talking political activism.
This may sound overwhelming, but there is a lot of information out there, if you have any interest whatsoever. But first let me provide you with some basic information. Just like diet, whoever you talk to may have a different approach and viewpoint of minimalism, so understand that it is more of a philosophy, and how you apply it depends on you and where you are in your life. There are times to accumulate, times to get rid of, but it is even better to avoid accumulating things that you may not really need.
Face it, most of us have too much stuff!
There are many statistics citing that the average American has too much stuff. Here is an article giving you some statistics of the things we already know. We have so many things that we don’t even use that we have filled our homes with them to overflowing, then rented out storage compartments to handle the rest. How much of an expense is that, and what is it doing to you emotionally? Do you know your brain has to keep track of every item that you own? It is a survival instinct. Are you having problems retrieving that information? It may be because your brain is overwhelmed and can’t keep track of the mass amount of data. Something to think about.
What do we truly need?
I am not saying we should get rid of everything and live with 10 things in our wardrobe and two cooking pots; I am saying it makes sense to evaluate what we do have and figure out what we truly use and need. If you haven’t used it in 5 years, will you use it in the next 5? What is it costing you to store it? Now multiply that times every item in your house. Are you overwhelmed just thinking about it? That should tell you something right there. Fortunately, there are many vloggers and bloggers who have lots of recommendations of how to reduce the clutter and keep your sanity. With a reducing mindset, you tend to reduce your impulse buys, and start giving things to people who may actually use them.
If you have debt, should you be spending money on things you don’t need?
Most of us have some type of debt, usually credit card debt. Much of this debt may be from “emergencies”, such as car repairs or house repairs, or even hospital bills. These are necessary and probably as good a use for a credit card as possible. However, why should we add on the price of other items that we don’t honestly need? Have you been doing a lot of online shopping? Did you really think how much you need those items before you hit that Purchase button? When it shows up on the doorstep, do you ask yourself why you even bought it? I am not trying to make you feel guilty, many of us do the exact same thing. I am just trying to make you think of the benefits of really thinking about what you truly “need”.
Is this a blowback from the years of consumerism?
Personally, I believe the ramifications of “too much stuff” is being seen with the entire movement of minimalism as well as the idea of simplifying our lives; there is even a popular magazine called Real Simple.
Personally, I believe we may be heading for a new/old trend of making things ourselves. There is a rising interest in people wanting to learn how to make their own soap, or herbal tinctures. Many people are learning to garden and farm in more traditional ways, keep bees, learn woodworking and even leather craft. Traditional ways of preserving food are also becoming popular. Instead of just purchasing, many people are learning to produce items, instead. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do that, either. However, if you do want to buy something, wouldn’t it give you more pleasure to know it was made by someone close by, who enjoyed making it with their hands, and put real craftsmanship into it?
What minimalism isn’t (or shouldn’t be):
An all black and white wardrobe.
A house with nothing in it.
A closet with less than ten items hanging up, and all of them look exactly the same!
A house with no furniture (unless you are inspired to sit on the floor to get more movement into your day!).
Yes, I have seen all of these things on websites, but I figured out very quickly to ignore all of that and focus on the important parts of the idea. Just like Marie Kondo has some good ideas, but rolling my clothes in my drawers just isn’t working for me, so move on with what does work.
Minimalism, like anything else, can be a trend that goes too far. If it is a style that you love, by all means enjoy it, but you don’t have to change your style to get rid of excess. We all have a need to adorn ourselves and our homes in the styles and colors that we love. We just don’t need to buy a new item every week.
Where or how should I start?
I always like to start with inspiration and encouragement. I find those fairly easily on Youtube videos. Getting rid of extra shampoo bottles and makeup you don’t use sounds like it won’t get you far, but when you see an organized bathroom, it gives you some momentum to move to your closet and drawers. Soon you may find yourself addicted to the whole idea of decluttering and “tidying up”. Then, when you find yourself online shopping, you may decide you don’t really “need” those things after all, and empty your cart.
Remember, this is a process and a mindset. It takes time, and as a process, you will find yourself making decisions easier. All those things that you held onto for so long, you may say to yourself “let someone else put these to good use”, and give them to someone who may need them.
What if I am a little bit of a hoarder?
I would really like to address this to my friends that struggle with letting go of anything that may have an emotional attachment to them. It is not a personality defect, it is just a personality trait that they have. They attach memories to items, and don’t want to lose those memories. All I can say is, if nothing else, try just one rule: if you bring something into the house, you have to let something go. Good luck, because this area may be a real struggle for you.
Here is some help and inspiration on this subject:
I have accumulated a few articles, videos and websites, if you find this subject is interesting to you.
Some fun Youtube videos:
Zoe Arielle, a young Canadian that is fun to listen to:
Some of my favorite articles:
(In fact, Joshua Becker has some nice ideas and articles about minimalism.)
Here is the website of the authors of The Minimalists, keep in mind, they are a bit extreme.
The Minimalists (https://minimalismfilm.com)
The True Cost (https://truecostmovie.com) available on Netflix
Offshoot blogposts about “eco friendly clothes”
Podcasts on eco friendly clothes:
And here is yet another perspective on minimalism (showing the hypocracy!):
(Keep in mind, I don’t believe any of my readers fall into this category! But I believe it does good to show extremes, so we can be wary of the dangers of our humanity.)