This month JAM Organizing presents another informative article from a guest blogger. Enjoy!
Although it may seem lofty and unattainable, many of us can benefit from the ideas behind Minimalism. It's not about ridding yourself of possessions until your house looks empty. The “less is more” mindset takes a much deeper form in this philosophy. But, if ridding your life and living area of everything but the most basic necessities is not what minimalism is all about – what is it? Read on to find out.
What is Minimalism?
Before delving deeper into the essence of a minimalist approach to life, let's discuss what minimalism actually is.
Minimalism first appeared as a reaction to the existing art movements in the early 20th century. Painters, sculptors, musicians and writers began creating works without excessive details and embellishments. From there, the idea of “less is more” found its way into many other aspects of everyday life.
Over the years, minimalism has evolved into a philosophy that holds freedom at the highest pedestal. Many take this to mean completely ditching material possessions and living out of a backpack somewhere without the conveniences of modern life. But that’s not quite right. There really isn't one concise definition.
Understanding its essential principles will help us understand more about the movement. Then it's up to you to choose which elements to adopt, and to what extent.
1. Minimalism & Fewer Possessions
Does minimalism put an emphasis on owning fewer possessions? Yes, it does. Does owning five instead of 50 pairs of socks instantly make you a minimalist? Not quite. Still, this is often the first principle people explore when they become intrigued with this lifestyle. And it’s understandable – in a society focused on consuming and buying, downsizing your belongings can be a true challenge.
Am I going to need these worn-out shoes someday? What if I lose my favorite water bottle and don’t have an extra? What about all these books I’ve been collecting over the years? These are just some of the intrusive thoughts most people have when they start examining everything they own. If you find it hard to let go, try to use storage in this process. By reorganizing your household with storage units, you’ll be able to empty your space of the non-essentials and still keep your stuff and lessen your anxiety around the process. This could be a great way to see what you can genuinely do without. Review what's in storage from time to time to determine whether it's time to donate or whether it deserves a place in your home.
2. Minimalism & Reducing Distractions
How many times have you arrived late because you took too much time staring blankly at your closet, trying to figure out what to wear? Too many to count? This is another instance in which less truly is more.
When you minimize the distractions in your life, be it in clothing, home décor, or anything else, you are actually allowing your mind to focus on more important things. The amount of time you will save by not having to decide between this or that will allow your creativity and passion to shine through. The moments alone seem so tiny, but they add up to a lot of lost time and a lot of decision fatigue.
3. Minimalism & Quality Over Quantity
It’s better to have one cast-iron skillet that can last a whole century (with proper care) than five, cheap non-stick pans that will get ruined after a few years of use.
By investing in quality instead of quantity, not only will you reduce clutter in your home, but you’ll also save money in the long run. If you apply this kind of thinking to all aspects of life, you will soon realize that focusing on the depth of things instead of the number is a much more viable path towards happiness.
4. Minimalism & Replacing Trends with Timelessness
If you’ve ever wondered why you can't contain yourself when you walk into your favorite clothing or home décor store (Target, we’re looking at you), it’s highly likely you’ve fallen victim to trends (and advertising, marketing, and good lighting!) You’re certainly not alone.
While constantly updating your wardrobe and replacing your iPhone with the newest version is fun, the excitement wears off quickly. This, plus the adverse effects fast fashion has on your wallet, the environment, public health, human rights, etc., you can see why choosing timelessness over trends is an important principle of a minimalist approach to life.
5. Minimalism & Practicing Intentionality
We live in an incredibly fast-paced world and our attention spans have decreased to match. This can lead to an increasingly mindless attitude toward life and its associated side effects - many of which can be observed in our collective mental health.
To counteract this, minimalism emphasizes the importance of intentionality in everything we do. Practically speaking, this means putting in an effort to be present in each and every moment, no matter how insignificant it may seem. By doing this, you gain control over your circumstances and become more proactive, instead of the opposite. Your relationships, both with other people and yourself, can reach a new level of meaning and value.
While there is no simple answer to how to be more intentional, turning inwards and reassessing our emotions and experiences is always a good place to start.
6. Minimalism & Finding Value Outside of Material Things
When you look at your life, what is it that you cherish the most? Do you think more of your accomplishments, relationships, and moments than of the things you bought or owned? Still, we seem so focused on buying things to achieve happiness.
Those who’ve embraced minimalism find that genuine freedom and happiness have nothing to do with what we own. Adopting this lifestyle implies striving toward more meaningful things, experiences, and memories. Be it traveling and exploring the world, learning and acquiring new skills, or simply devoting your time to family and friends – if doing it lights a spark in you, it’s certainly worth your time.
7. Minimalism & The Journey
The lifestyle is all about learning and experiencing things while devoting yourself to it more and more. Yes, you might save a bit of money or manage to design a home that is incredibly easy to clean and maintain, but these are just the perks that come along with the mindset.
Minimalism has its advantages and can improve both your home and mental wellbeing, but it's not for everyone. Now that you know more about the essential principles of a minimalist approach to life, you can choose which to adopt, to what extent, and when. Whatever conclusion you come to, remember that there is no need to go all out and label yourself if that’s not what you’re comfortable with. Implementing even a small portion of the minimalist philosophy into your life could instigate some beautiful changes and inspire you to explore it further. In the end, as long as you feel good about it – you’re probably doing something right!
Lisa Wise is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed minimalist. After living in NYC for almost a decade, she felt the need to introduce more balance and serenity in her life. During this time, she became interested in exploring different philosophies. In her free time, Lisa enjoys traveling with her husband and son.
Would you like to live a more organized life? Contact us today to get started!
I'm Jen, a professional organizer ready to help you take charge of your space, free up your time, and lead a more organized life! (Read more about me here)