Will minimalism guarantee peace and happiness?
I thought I knew the answer, but I wanted to know what others thought.
The idea of less is more intrigues me. I come from a family of “we might need that someday” savers. Not quite hoarders, but when I cleaned out my parents’ home, the amount of stuff seemed to justify that description.
My moment of reckoning came after I cleaned and sorted my sister’s belongings after her death. I had, once again, packed, distributed, and trashed the earthly treasures of someone I loved.
As I stood in my closet looking at the boxes stored on the top shelves, I realized none of it belonged to me. Memorabilia from my children, my parents, my sisters, and my brother filled boxes that never saw the light of day once they went up on those shelves.
I had given away anything that could help others, good clothes, appliances, household items, and furniture that still had plenty of life in them. All that remained were the bits and pieces of hopes and dreams reflected in notes, drawings, awards, and photos.
The boxes took on a different meaning as I stared above me. They had become a leaden weight of memories that cluttered my mind and tied me to the past.
Don’t misunderstand — special treasures can bring joy and remembrance of special times with those we love. But for this story, more became chains that seemed to get heavier with each loss. I was drowning in memories and stuff.
I made up my mind that my children, specifically, my daughter, would not bear this same burden. I knew something needed to change.
As a process-oriented thinker, I considered my options and started reading. That’s when I discovered the concept of minimalism. I’ll be honest. I thought I found the answer to how to rid my life of mine and others junk.
What I fell into was more than another book or strategy for cleaning out our messes. Instead, I found a philosophy, a way of approaching life, and my relationship with things.
My search took me first to the website of Joshua Field Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who promote a minimalist lifestyle. I also found Leo Babauta whose minimalist website overflows with practical insight on living with simplicity and purpose.
Not satisfied, I began exploring minimalism on Medium and landed in a goldmine of thoughts, beliefs, inspiration, and honesty.
The most in-depth study came from Julia Horvath in a 19-minute guide that covered the history, definition, and benefits of minimalism. My favorite definition came from Joshua Field Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.
a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
Julia sums up this lifestyle succinctly.
Minimalism is not about reaching someone else’s notion of what’s best for you; it’s about making your relationship with your stuff work for you.
The hard truth, according to Julia, is that “everything we own comes with a set of obligations.” And I might add, for us and our families. Two key benefits make the effort to minimize worthwhile for Julia — freedom and time.
Julia goes deeper into a description of three phases of transitioning into a minimalist lifestyle. She describes each with detailed strategies, questions, examples, and ideas about how to navigate through these phases:
(1) a general decluttering phase, (2) the adoption of a minimalist mindset, which aids most further consumption habits, and (3) an altered mindset about how we treat the stuff we decide to own.
Her wisdom and practicality convinced me I still have some work to do, but Julia taught me the most important lesson.
In the end, the opposite of minimalism isn’t maximalism but indifference. It’s a practice of mindfulness. By opting for a minimalist lifestyle you choose to care — what you own, how you spend your time, and who you allow into your life.
Read more at: This Is How You Can Practice Minimalism in Real Life