it blows my mind that it’s been almost a decade since I embraced my “fuckit” moment and decided to march to the beat of my own drum!
when I tell people i’m minimalist, I get a wide range of reactions. people judge themselves, often harshly, saying things like “i try but…” to flat out incredulity and rejection of the idea of it. some people try to justify themselves and their stuff – and debt – habits.
what they don’t know is i’m just over here like:
there’s a whole lot of misunderstanding around minimalism and what it means to become a minimalist.
the term minimalism evokes images of stark, intentional poverty, extreme stoicism, and a militant attitude about it. i actually tend to shy away from the term “minimalist” because of it’s misconceptions … i just call it “living simply”.
when I went minimalist, my dad asked, tongue-in-cheek, if my plan was to live under a bridge and the rest of my family thinks I hate money and just want to live in poverty.
the truth is that I might still find a bridge to live under… if it’s out in the country and it’s one of those pretty stone bridges with a creek running under it and I can park my camper there! and I LOVE money. money, freedom and time.
that’s why i went minimalist and probably why it would be hard to get me to go back.
10 things i’ve learned from 7 years of being minimalist:
what it is
- first and formost, living simply is all about getting yourself under control, becoming your own master, if you will. most of us have been running around like chicken’s with our heads cut off, letting social norms dictate how we behave and live our lives and then we wonder why most of america is on anti-depressants.
- it’s about learning to be content. once you do that, you can intentionally create the life you want, which will be infinitely more fulfilling than mindlessly buying stuff because we’re told it will make us happy. I think the truth is that I don’t like being told what to do, so I don’t watch tv or listen to a whole lot of radio or buy a whole lot of stuff because that’s exactly what advertisements are… avenues for people to tell me what to do. #oppositionaldefianceftw!
- simplicity helps us to free up our most valuable resources: time, money and brainspace, to focus on the shit that really matters to us: going on adventures, hobbies, family, travel, gettin’ freaky with that cute boy across town… it really comes down to do i want to spend my money and my life taking care of all this junk or do i want the freedom and resources to go do interesting things?
- simplicity extends to every aspect of life: relationships, spirituality, finances, diet, fitness… the list goes on.
- it’s an exercise in trust – trusting that you will be happy, trusting that not having every new shiny object isn’t the end of the world, trusting that your life will most likely improve… it’s hard and it’s definitely a challenge to give up the life you’ve been programmed to want. but let me tell you, designing the life of your dreams because you’re not chasing after what somebody has told you that you want is OH SO SATISFYING!
what it isn’t
- it’s not a choice to live in poverty – well, it can be, if you want. voluntary suffering can definitely throw into sharp relief just how good we have it. gratitude, man… gratitude. but you don’t have to do that in order to be minimalist or live simply or whatever… just get rid of the time/money/brainspace wasters.
- you don’t have to grow a beard, wear plaid, move to Portland, build a tiny house and start an all organic, gluten-free farm. or, y’know, live out of a backpack. or renovate and live in a camper. you also don’t have to wear fringe or those ridiculous ankle boots with floral midriff shirts either… ok now i’m just hatin’.
- it’s not about the amount of stuff you own – so long as you actually get value from your stuff and you’re not hanging on to it simply because you bought it or would feel guilty giving it up. at that point, your stuff owns you.
- it’s not about what kinds of things you own – high follutin fancy home décor, sparsely placed in an all white house (although, that’s totally my taste preference)
- it’s not an opportunity to feel superior to anyone else. it’s also not an opportunity to feel put upon by anyone else… it’s a freaking personal choice people. stop being victims.
living simply or being minimalist or whatever the hell you want to call it, is fully customizable. tailor it to fit you and your needs. adjust it over time. you WILL have to continuously declutter your life. don’t feel bad about it. i’m pretty sure humans are pack-rats by nature. for real, I have probably 10 blank notebooks that are currently owning me because I freaking LOVE paper!
if you’ve been curious about living simply or minimalist, there are tons of books out there about it but my current favorites are by organizational master Marie Kondo: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy
have you tried going minimalist or living a simple lifestyle? what have you learned?
if you haven’t tried it yet, where is the one area in your life you’d be super relieved to simplify?