Being more mindful when making decisions and looking after how much you really need for an enjoyable life are two points that I would identify with the purpose of a minimal life. But that doesn’t need to count for everyone. Moreover, there are different categories that all have their roots in the principles of minimalism, even if you can’t spot them at a glance.
Just like there is minimalism in design and photography, you can also experience it on someone’s phone or in their inventory. Every so often you can also come across minimalism that you can’t see at all. That’s mostly because people are just living their lives in a more intentional way, where they simply approach many things in a different and more purposeful way.
However, minimalism is not to be mixed up with any restrictions or things “taken away” from you. De-cluttering and sorting out unused stuff is something many people, who identify themselves as minimalists, did or do on a regular basis. Just how they like it and how it works best. Now let me give you some more insights on how I approach a minimalist life.
There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.Jackie French Koller, 1948
I would identify as a minimalist in progress. Mostly in the digital area (be it design or phone usage), as well as with the things I own. Lastly, I am also trying to keep a better eye on how much money I spend and — most importantly: on what. Especially the last point is a big construction site for myself. Not because I have too much money, but because I am a big fan of tech and beautifully crafted items.
Since February 2020, yes, that horrible year besides going to school, I started working as a freelancer to increase my pocket money just a little. That “just a little” straightforwardly turned into a good amount of income I have each month which is also an awesome invitation on directly spending it on one more item on my wishlist.
When this would have happened a couple of years earlier, when I wasn’t aware of a good way too approach money, I probably would have spent most of it right away. But exactly this is the point that I am more mindful about now.
Giving the decision of buying something new a bit more time to think about whether it is truly necessary or not transformed my answer from “Yes, I absolutely need this!” into “I am not sure if I need this” or even “Nope, this does not hold any value for my life”. This helped me a lot to address the problem right at the roots, instead of buying a lot of things to call my possessions and then sorting them out anyway.
Luckily, my mom and I are moving out of our current flat (after 16 years) and so we needed to go through all of the stuff we have and sort things out, sell them or — in case they don’t hold any value for others — recycle or trash them. I was a bit worried at the beginning of this process because i know that we have gathered a lot of things over the time and instead of sorting some of them out earlier, we just bought more boxes to store them.
When I am planning on doing some de-cluttering I approach it very rational. This is for two reasons:
Mostly I ask myself one simple question, which is “How long haven’t I used this item?”. This is a simple yet very helpful way to handle it, because when I see that I haven’t been using the item for a certain amount of time, I can be sure about not regretting having sorted it out.
Also, when you think about it that way, you are mostly able to make the decision without feeling specific emotions. When you didn’t use an item for a longer time but you still feel connected to it and don’t see any chance to let go of it, maybe consider sitting down for a moment and reflecting on how and why you have this feeling looking at it.
When you found the reason that makes it so special, remind yourself about the fact that you can also feel those emotions and feelings when you don’t have that item anymore. Memories are always in our hearts and don’t need to be kept in dusty things.
Lastly, I want to mention the area of clothing and fashion as well. We are living in a time that — when not faced with a pandemic and lockdowns — supports overconsumption by heart and makes people spend a huge amount of money they perhaps don’t even have.
Trends are coming and going and make many people feel the urge to adopt to those changes and therefore spend money for rather inexpensive, short lasting garments instead of saving a bit of their cash to buy high-quality clothing that will last them for a much longer time.
Buy cheap, buy twice.
By focusing on all (or only some) of these points, you will experience a life that is more satisfying and enjoyable to live because you simply have more time and space to focus on the important things and moments: being with friends and family, less distraction caused by less things, being more intentional and aware of your purchases and your whole life.
Minimalism does not cure everything that made you feel unhappy, but it is, for sure, a great start to look at your life differently and to get a little closer to knowing yourself.