Like many people, my life had become a cyclical process of acquisition. I thought that if I had ‘things’ that gave me pleasure (nice car, better career, shoes that matched outfits and so on), then I would be happy. But I slowly discovered that it was not the objects that were giving me pleasure, but my perception of them. A nice car is just that; it is an inanimate object that is not capable of anything other than moving you from place to place. The pleasure derived from inanimate objects is fleeting and after the excitement of the purchase has worn off, we find ourselves scanning once more, looking for the next item that will provide us with our fix. This is exhausting and expensive. The monetary expense is considerable, but so too is the time you have lost hunting for new treasures.
The art of living simply frees you from all that. Simplicity is beautiful all by itself. Simplicity is when you live in the moment, appreciating what you already have without the compulsive need to accessorise it with possessions.
When I committed to living a simple, minimalist life all I felt was relief. I had excused myself from acquiring things that kept me up with my friends – I felt in control. I had opted to take the time to drink my cup of tea without the distraction of doing work at the same time, checking emails or updating my status. Because I had resigned from all that, I felt tranquil and at peace with myself.
Today, I enjoy a few carefully considered possessions. I think they are beautiful and useful and they add value to my life. They are quality and well designed but, they do not own me and I would not save them in a fire. Over the years I have developed habits that help me grow. I have learned to truly switch off; I have learned to be on time and I am organised.
Every change I make though, has a follow-on reaction. Although I do not work as hard as before, my income has reduced. I have gained more time and a less stressful life but, I can’t go out for dinner very often. Does the reduction in my spending power matter to me? Not anymore, but once upon a time it would have.
Now, I have the freedom to enjoy the sunset, hear the birds and smell the wet grass; and I love that I have the time to enjoy that cup of tea.
Living a minimalist life is more than decluttering your home but it is a great first step towards a more mindful approach to living simply.
When you have lived in an over-crowded space for some time, it is difficult to know where to begin the decluttering process. The job can seem so overwhelming it is easier to resign yourself to leaving it and ‘committing’ to starting another day. So, where do you start? I suggest you start in a part of your home that is easy for you. Tackling the biggest job in your home (like the garage) is too much if this is your first day of decluttering.
For me, the bathroom cabinet was the obvious place to start mainly because much of the stuff in there is labeled with an expiry date and the decision of whether to keep it or not was out of my hands. Also into the bin went old lotions, hair products, sample sachets and anything else I knew I wasn’t using. My theory on bathroom products like body lotions is that if you are not using them now, you’re unlikely to start using them later. By the time I had finished emptying and cleaning, I had filled three supermarket bags and acquired a lot more space. Importantly, my very modestly sized bathroom was clean, clear and the few thing left were things that I actually used.
When we are learning to walk, our parents don’t register us for a marathon so tackle the easy jobs for now and leave the big jobs for a bit – they will still be there tomorrow.
As I started to reduce the amount of physical clutter in my home I noticed benefits starting to emerge and I thought that I would share five of them with you today.
You start to live intentionally. As you discard the clutter, you become a lot more aware of not wanting clutter to come back into your home. The purchases that you do make are intentional purchases and not ones that are impulsive or that you were ‘talked into it’ by advertising or sales stickers. Countless messages enter your life to sway you into accumulating more and more. Living intentionally forces us to identify what we truly value and not be swayed by influences that do not uphold our values.
You spend less time on cleaning. Having the time to enjoy your life and pursue the things that bring you joy is important. As we start to focus on the things that we value in our lives we find that being able to clean the house in under thirty minutes is worth striving for. When surfaces are not cluttered they are easily cleaned. Not having as much stuff to find a home for means that tidying the house at the end of every day is a five-minute job.
You find space you never knew you had. The buzz word in the building industry is ‘storage’. We are told we need kitchens with loads of storage. Bedroom wardrobes are walk-in with room for dozens of pairs of shoes and bags. Whole drawers are allocated for ties. It’s easy to think that your basic home is too small when you see what you could have if you just upgraded. By removing hardly used clothing, sports equipment, tools, appliances and so on from your home, you discover that you have enough storage for your small number of possessions.
You regain control. Our lives are becoming more and more fast-paced in the pursuit of happiness through possessions, but many of us find that these things are not making us happy. Rather, they drain our lives. When possessions take over our lives, we experience anxiety, depression and regret. By owning fewer possessions, you find you have more time, more space, less worry and less financial burden.
More opportunity. Our lives, family and friends are important. Why would you want to spend your time pursuing things that do not matter and that do not make you happy? When we evaluate what is truly important to us, we rarely identify things. We value our health, our family, our interests. We want joy and love and peace in our lives. Clutter, junk, and debt take away from what we value. Start living your life today, and discard that what does not move you forward towards a meaningful life.