After a move, especially one in which a family has lived in the same location for longer than a decade, the same three reflections are usually made:
“How did we accumulate so much stuff?”
“I found so many items I thought I lost!”
“Where did this come from? Is it ours?”
While most of our items are kept behind a door, drawer, shelf, or cabinet, what is not seen is often forgotten. We live with junk drawers, overflowing boxes and shelving units, multiple sizes of clothes, books stacked to the ceiling, dozens of rarely used small appliances, and countless items we simply hold onto indefinitely. With most homes bursting at the seams, the desire to live with less is an attention grabber; yet, the image of “how” appears to be overwhelming! We mentally picture cleaning out and discarding our house of its content and luxury amenities. While this is one aspect of the definition, it has personal meaning for everyone, simply because we all have different goals and ambitions. One sentiment is expressed by those who have chosen to live a minimalist lifestyle. The experience offers a feeling of “freedom.”
Defining a “Minimalist Lifestyle”
We often hear the word “minimalism” and think the definition is associated with a bare shell that includes only needed items. The phrases “removing clutter” or “eliminating excess” may be part of your thoughts, too; however, adopting a minimalist lifestyle is a means to help you find mental health and well being. It allows you to let go of “things” that are holding you back and giving you a feeling of spiritual, emotional, and physical freedom.
Money certainly doesn’t buy happiness. Have you considered what portion of your income is affording you peace of mind? Is the answer including debt? We often need to ask ourselves what would define a feeling of personal happiness. In the minimalist philosophy, our belongings are holding us back. Beyond chair and table, think in larger terms such as the big house, the multiple cars, and what else? What gives you a feeling of fulfillment? And, would a defined change be one solution?
The Financial Picture
Why do we feel the need to buy when we already have? Does the item have a purpose, a use? And, most importantly, can the item be paid for immediately without accruing interest? A minimalist lifestyle would allow you to live debt free, and afford a different way of life; perhaps it is traveling abroad or participating in a new hobby. The weight of debt cannot ensure a path to freedom.
In our relationships, sometimes the heavy weight we carry is connected to a friend’s drama, difficulty or personality. It matters who we carry along in our travels. The bag does not need to be inundated with a large quantity. In fact, the people we surround ourselves with can help our effort to stay focused, positive, and achieve particular goals, especially happiness. How big is your circle? Whom do you trust to provide the time of minimalism that creates productivity and results? No matter your interest in this ideal, some areas may strike a personal chord to consider a change.
Any step forward begins with a dawning realization. Living with less may occur with the body, the mind, and the empowerment of the things most valued. Ginger Calhoun writes, “Two years ago, I started listening to podcasts. Some speakers emphasized natural or self-sufficient living while others promoted a more fulfilling and happier lifestyle. These ideas, pieced together, have formed a new perspective for me. I started with my relationships, and branched out to my finances, eliminating costs, and buying with purpose. I learned to refocus my efforts. I didn’t need to buy nonessential items to find happiness; instead, I was burdened with debt. Friends have noticed a change in me. I am calmer and not frustrated so easily by the tedious problems. And, my friends are also seeking material changes, and a new zest for living and achieving. As a grandmother, I am at a new level of perfection.”
Minimalism isn’t ideal for everyone; yet, could you be happy on a journey to pursue a life-changing and life-giving lifestyle?