What I’ve Gained Through Minimalism

Minimalism

Hey, Guys! I’m veering off the path of beauty today to talk more about the minimalist lifestyle and what I’ve learned from it over the past two/three years. You go through so many stages in life and mine has certainly changed quite a bit since my twenties (marriage, house, having a baby). It only made sense to reevaluate my stuff and where it all fit in. And trust me, I had a lot more stuff than I wanted and it has changed my view on stuff overall.

I used the word “gained” in my title because I think people can have this perception that minimalism is all about having nothing, and it’s not. It’s not about depriving yourself. In my own words, minimalism is focusing on what you value and what you truly want by ridding yourself of clutter. Clutter doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be what you’re doing with your time that isn’t really contributing to what you actually consider worthwhile. It’s freeing yourself  from the continual wanting of more, more, more. It’s also personal- minimalism can look like all white walls (if we’re talking minimalist aesthetics) and living out of a backpack. Or it can be colorful and have much more variety.  It’s all about mindfulness and personal values, and more simplicity in one way or another.

Some more points before I get into it: I believe to want is good. I think to progress as humans and strive for better is important. But to want a better life and to be grateful are not mutually exclusive-you can do BOTH. All I am saying is when wanting becomes a constant, mindless thing and there is lack of gratitude for what is in front of you already, it might not be a terrible idea to step back for a second, question things and gain back some control. Momentary highs (which are cool here and there) are one thing, but longer term joy that is in line with your values is another.

Also, this isn’t about telling anyone what they should value or what they should enjoy. Everyone is in a different place in life and we all have different interests. This is more about my personal experience and my case for a more minimalist path.

I’m not quite sure if I’d even label myself a minimalist quite yet. Though I know it’s a subjective term, there can be certain limitations or ideals that are perceived or that we can put on our own selves through a label that I’d rather not at the moment- life is too fluid. But I’d like to think no matter what happens in life, part of me is innately minimalist. I’d like to think that though life can go through so many changes and stages, my hopes for only keeping things I enjoy and use will always carry though and that I will continue to learn more about myself along the way :). Doing things intentionally will hopefully always be with me.

There’s a lot I’ve gained or learned from a more minimalist lifestyle but these are some of the big ones:

  1. You can still like things! I actually value what I have even more because I don’t have as much of what I don’t value. I like trying new products and having more of certain things, I just try to make sure everything is getting used and enjoyed.
  2. More Global Awareness.  Or less waste. I’ve started thinking more globally and how to keep things more sustainable. The goal for me is that along with more intention with what I buy, the rate or amount which I’m getting rid of things will hopefully continue to decrease. We don’t know the true outcome of where all of our stuff goes when donating and I understand that there are more sustainable options. I try to sell things here and there or try to find better homes for things I no longer want, but realistically I also get that donating is the best option when you want something out of your house sooner rather than later. Either way, the goal is to decrease the rate of waste within my power (not through hoarding!!) and that is better than nothing in my opinion!
  3. My desire to shop has decreased. I’m talking the physical act of spending money. I enjoy seeing what’s out there and knowing, I just don’t have to have everything that’s out there.
  4. More thoughtful purchases. When you lay off the shopping for a bit, you recognize your impulses and triggers eventually leading to more self control. By not buying things immediately you’re able to better discern what you truly want and keep purchases intentional.
  5. Gratitude. You start using what you already have– and FINISH stuff, or see that what you have is enough and works in many cases. New stuff is cool, don’t get me wrong. But when your closet is busting out with 20 of the same shirt maybe it’s time to rethink getting similar shirt number 21. And shirt 21 may very well add value to your life, but don’t kid yourself. Really think about it.
  6. You learn more about yourself. When you start using what you have and stop continually bringing things in, you can focus on what you actually prefer and notice what you don’t. One thing I’ve learned is that I like switching things out once in while and I enjoy choice, but I don’t need 100 different things to be able to do that. You start to learn what your happy number is with your stuff and what is more in line with your actual reality. I also know I like to do things at my own pace. I can decide when I want to participate in a sale or trend, not the other way around.
  7. You’ll have more money. No you won’t be a billionaire overnight. But you may not have to stress as much about how you’re paying a bill off at the end of the month when you’re being more mindful with your purchases. Whatever your money goals are (paying down debt, saving etc.), cutting out unnecessary spending will help you get there little by little. We all know expensive emergencies happen, but hopefully through not paying for as much stuff you don’t truly want or need, you’ll be able to deal with those emergencies or life events a little better when they do pop up, or at least start saving for those times. Car issues or dental bills are annoying no doubt, but at least I know those things won’t set me back as much as would be the case if couldn’t pay for them.
  8. More peace. You stop chasing every single trend out there and stop feeling like you have to continually keep up with them or everyone around you-unless that’s something you actually enjoy or part of your job then that’s one thing. Trends are all fine and good but you also have to know yourself and that you don’t have to participate in everything. I do think a lot of that comes with getting older. We experiment and over time hopefully figure out what works for us and what doesn’t (trust me, I’ve played around with some interesting looks back in the day-all part of the fun!). I like admiring and being inspired, plus we should be happy for others. But you can do so while still be being grateful for your own blessings and honoring your own style and tastes which is just as special as anyone else’s. You should own it. If not, time for some introspection. Look within. 
  9. Increased Awareness. You’ll notice more how retailers (or anyone/anything) try to get you to buy. I know many small businesses do truly stand behind their products but like anyone else need to generate an income. So this isn’t a dig at all of their motivations. But again, I am focusing on that awareness here. It’s more about the constant “You need this!!” promotion of excessive materialism that you start to notice and start to walk away from. Allow yourself to make your own decisions on if you truly want or need something, not hype or pressure.
  10. More time for other things. Time to ourselves is more rare the older we get, and I’m not saying you’ll magically have days and days on end that are commitment free once you start a more minimalist life. But with whatever time you do gain back when reducing the time constantly looking for the next thing to get or clutter bogging you down, that can be used towards something else you truly value. You might not even know what that is yet, but it’s worth exploring. There are times when I do truly enjoy stepping out and getting things I need or just seeing what’s out there (and honestly these days it’s a chore and just needs to get done), but it’s a wide, wide world. What else do I enjoy or how else can I add value to my day/life or someone else’s? What can I create?  How cool is it to discover what else is out there and what else gets us going? Even it means stopping to rest or smell the roses or more time with people I love. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Possibilities are endless.

I’m sure there’s a ton more to add (look out for a possible part two down the line!) but those are some of the biggies!

Have you tried a more minimalist path? What have you learned? If not, is it something you might be interested in trying? Leave your comments down below! 

Love, Jen

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