Think about one of the most recent things you purchased, that you just had to have. Now that you own it, how long do you love it as much as you did when you were lusting after it? Chances are, and based on my own personal experience, not all that long. It doesn’t take long for the new to become old and for a shiny new item to top your wish list.
Recently I watched the documentary “Minimalism” that is streaming on Netflix. It was created by The Minimalists themselves, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, and is based on the concept of ‘living meaningful lives with less’. These guys really live what they preach and I found the idea of living with less, much less, entirely fascinating. Like most people in my generation, we are saturated by consumerism and brainwashed by a materialistic world that leads us to believe that we always need (want!) more. But do all these possessions make us happy?
Since becoming a mother and spending much more time at home than I did before I had children, I’ve become much neater and more organised than I ever was. When I’m dealing with the possessions of four people, I have to be. I’m also not very sentimental (so much so that my engagement and wedding rings are completely different now than on the day I got married) so I’m pretty good culling things I no longer need. After watching this documentary, I think I can do even better. I don’t know if I can go full-scale minimalist (to see what that is, make some time to watch the doco) but I can definitely live with less.
The Minimalists announced a ’30 day minimalism game’ and I’m going to give it a go. Here’s how it works. You start on the first of the month, and you commit to throwing out or donating one thing. On the second day, two things, on the third day, three things etc. Which might sound easy until you are purging more than a dozen items daily. I’m not really keeping a numbered tally of all the things I’m getting rid of, but there are bags and boxes in my entryway. It’s spring cleaning on steroids.
A few days ago I started with the boys’ toys. Even though I don’t think they own that many toys, there are still enough things they own that either a) don’t get played with anymore or b) they’ve simply outgrown. Unless they are very special to us for whatever reason, I don’t want to hold onto small things on the off chance that we have another child to use them so its time to cull. Today I went through all my clothes and accessories and filled a large garbage bag. Shoes, kitchenware and general knick knacks will be next. I even want to get around to sorting through albums on my computer and printing photo books so I can clear all my photos from my computer and onto an external hard drive. A complete and total clean out. It already feels good to have removed so many unwanted items from the house.
One of my biggest annoyances is losing things. That’s why this entire idea is so appealing to me, to have less “stuff” to sift through when looking for a lost item that I (or the kids) really do need. I’ve been jokingly mocked for the way I tidy up and put everything back in its place after the day is done and the kids are in bed, but you know what? Jack has this uncanny ability to ask for whatever toy is currently missing. Out of sight, out of mind definitely doesn’t apply to that child, so having less and having everything organised helps me not have to spend so much time fruitlessly searching for it. Also, I can’t relax within a messy environment, so I prefer to tidy up anyway.
Minimalism is about letting go, and keeping only those things that continue to provide lasting happiness or a practical use. So it definitely isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have nice things, or invest money in a statement accessory or artwork, it’s about being satisfied once you have obtained something and being able to procure happiness outside of material purchases and the “high of the buy”. This doesn’t just apply to material goods either, but relationships and friendships as well.
When this image popped up on my Instagram feed, it took a second read before the epiphany set in. What a powerful statement! Basically, you can’t change the people around you, but you can choose who you invest your time and emotional wellbeing in. Do you have people that add unnecessary stress, drama or just don’t support you? Let go. Do you feel like you’re always the only one checking in, arranging the catch ups and making the most effort, travelling in a one-way friendship? Let go (unless this is a really important friendship to salvage, then I’d communicate this first, and hope they are understanding – as I have learned, some won’t be).
Trust me, I also see the irony in this from an Instagram perspective. I work for businesses and I style things, I love to make things look nice. Instagram is arguably the epicentre of advertising. However, I think this minimalism concept is food for thought and really makes you think about what you purchase and what makes you truly happy. Finally, it makes sense that less stuff, less debt. For those that are conscious about their financial future, there’s nothing worse than looking back on all the money spent on things that don’t get used/worn. Funnily enough, the less I buy, the less I want.
Less is more.
“Love people, use things. The opposite never works” – The Minimalists
“Things are just things, they don’t make you who you are. Can’t pack up a U-Haul and take them with you when you’re gone” – Macklemore (Glorious)
Anyone going to try the challenge? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.