5 Lessons Learned from Minimalism

I embarked on my minimalism journey about 3 years ago. I joined the movement because I desired a deep and everlasting change. At that point in my life I was searching for deeper understanding of the world around me. I wanted to learn how I could relate to people and life better. How to be mentally and physically “clutter-free.” Naturally, I am someone that likes to get rid of everything, but in retrospect, I never had a specific reason to remove things from my life. I just knew they had to go. On YouTube binge one day, I stumbled upon the concept of minimalism and tumbled down a rabbit hole. I watched the Minimalists, tiny-house projects, Jenny Mustard (her channel is awesome, please check it out!), and I knew minimalism was the next step for my life. It’s crazy how it transcends the physical space. Minimalism transformed my life is ways I would have never imagined.  I feel clearer, my room for sure is cleaner, and life is simpler. Although I’ve learned a plethora of valuable lessons from minimalism, I am going to share my top 5 lessons learned from Minimalism.

#1 Minimalism is not about obtaining a certain aesthetic.

You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need. ~ Vernon Howard

Social media strikes again folks. Instagram and Pinterest are laced with a plethora of “minimalism aesthetic” images. If you are new to the practice, you might think that you have to change your entire wardrobe, interior decor, and life color pallet to implement minimalism. The biggest thing I had to learn was that my practice of minimalism is simply that. I decide what it means to me. I love color, accessories, and life-like things. I don’t need to change what I like in order to fit an aesthetic. 

#2 Our living spaces are a direct link to our mental state.

Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual. ~ Linda Breen Pierce

When I began assessing what I owned and how I kept things, I learned a lot about myself.  I tend to keep things in an organized chaos. The more stuff I have, the more I try to organize it, and it never succeeds really. It just looks like a sort of organized mess if I’m being honest. In retrospect, the shallow organization was how I felt in my life. Barely being kept together but functioning and not falling apart. It was kind of sad. Clearing out my living spaces (bedroom, bathroom, and basement), cleared my mind and spirit. Scary, right? We are what we have essentially. If we love each item we have and appreciate it, perhaps we appreciate ourselves.  If we allow things to pile up, perhaps this is a sign to analyze the internal.

#3 Finding meaning in what we have makes life more beautiful.

The simplest things are often the truest. ~ Richard Bach

The first step to beginning minimalism is The “Purge”: Getting rid of any item you are not using, holds no value, and is taking up space. The Purge revealed items that I thought were important, but they turned out to not be. After ridding myself of old things, what I did have, I appreciated. I valued every single item. I enjoy knowing and loving the items in my space. I love that they give me happiness when I look at them. Over the last 3 years, I have very few possessions and I realized that this freed up my time to travel more and lightly and analyze what I value. My main goal in life is to be able to pick up and move to wherever I want. I can’t have clutter. I doesn’t fit with the lifestyle I am working to manifest. Everything I own, for the most part, can be taken with me wherever and I feel free!

#4 Buying less things saves more money for what you truly want.

Smile, breathe and go slowly. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

To piggyback off my last statement, getting rid of unnecessary crap made me analyze what I want. This applies to physical and abstract things. I asked myself: What do I want to invest in? What do I want to purchase? Why? Minimalism forced me to create value in things that at first don’t seem existential.  I determined that what I buy should add value to my life. If I buy some random item from Marshall’s, is it adding real value or is it just another item that I will throw away in 2 months. Antithetically, if I save that money and use it to pay for an activity I truly enjoy, I add more value. Same process applies to abstract things like time, if I invest my time in something trivial, am I adding value to my life? I can use my time for things that are going to enrich my life and not waste precious time. Keeping these thoughts in mind, I have saved a plethora of time and money just by asking myself if an item or activity adds value. Life is so simple and peaceful, it’s not even funny. It’s second nature to think, “hey, I want to do this because it makes me truly happy” or “I can pass on buying that chair because I want to save to travel.”

#5 There is no right or wrong way to practice minimalism.

There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth. ~Leo Tolstoy

Let’s circle back to social media. There are copious amounts of material on YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and what have you on minimalism. Certain people follow a strict set of rules or methodologies in how they practice minimalism. That is fine, well, and beautiful. Their practice is their practice. Mine is mine. Yours is yours (if you choose to do so). If someone was looking at my life, they might say that I am not a true minimalist. I don’t have a certain aesthetic or I have too many towels and whatnot. How I practice minimalism is 100% my business. I tailor the lifestyle to what makes ME comfortable. I am an avid reader so I have books that I want to keep that add VALUE to my life. I love jewelry so I collect beautiful, vintage costume pieces that I wear every day. The beautiful thing about life and anything that we embark on, is that we can customize it to fit our needs. Minimalism works for me because I adjust it to what I think is right for me. I’ve become happier and a better person because of it!

Those are my lessons. If you are a minimalist, I love to hear stories of how people changed their lives as a result of the practice. Let me know if your journey in comments below or on one of the social pages. If you are new to minimalism or are interested in the practice, I recommend following The Minimalists. They offer amazing advice on the practice, but more importantly, stress finding value in your life and what you do.

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