Imagine if a natural disaster struck your home, but everyone survived. No lives were lost, except the symbols of those lives and the years spent collecting them. There are your childhood toys never passed down to your kids. There are handmade quilts, photos and sweet cards written to you—lost. As you pick through the rubble, items found again carry a new meaning, and some meanings are reinforced.
Imagine the items collecting dust in your garage or basement, stoically waiting. For what? As you outgrow the phases of your life, you outgrow the items of that time, too. Sometimes, you do so without ever noticing. Isn’t it better to let go, and keep what you need now? This is the core of minimalism, but many have problems with letting go and accepting joy into their lives.
Minimalism Isn’t Just About Getting Rid of Clutter
It’s not only about clutter. It’s about what you keep and why, and what you seek out to keep and why. In your struggle to have to do something or your obsession with obtaining that something, you often create more anxiety than you deserve.
You’re rushing to do everything expected at work and home, saving for vacation, pushing for a promotion. Keeping up with clutter is the main culprit of home-related stress. In fact, 81 percent of women and 87 percent of men feel overwhelmed by home upkeep. Also, 47 percent are stressed with unexpected expenses, 46 percent are stressed by not having enough time with loved ones and 45 percent are stressed because they don’t get enough time to themselves.
You buy more and more items that should make life easier. This is a modern and materialistic society, and it’s hard to keep up. Your inner and outer space are reduced, and you have trouble finding room to really know or be with yourself and loved ones in the present moment. There isn’t time, because there’s too much of everything, and it’s draining your energy. Reclaiming how and why you collect by decluttering your life brings joy and peace.
Letting Go Will Make You Question the Importance of Questioning
The truth is that getting rid of what you’ve purchased makes you reflect on your feelings and admit to certain realities or dreams that didn’t work out the way you’d hoped.
Items embody memory, and memory is tricky when it comes to the story you tell yourself about your life. These items hold your hopes and dreams, who you were and who you believed you were, down to the present. These items reflect who you’re planning to be, too.
You may be able to toss much clutter without thought, but some items will raise hard questions and many kinds of emotions within you. You’ll hover over one keepsake after another for far too long. At times, reflecting is beneficial and the item is a touchstone. Notice how dwelling keeps you stuck. Letting go will make you question the importance of questioning.
Minimalists Aren’t Naked Hippies Who Live in Huts
Unless that’s your life goal, you don’t have to strip yourself naked of everything to be a minimalist. That’s a myth. Minimalism simplifies and helps bring you back to your roots, to find the good bones of your internal house and refocus your efforts in your external life.
For some, that’s building a tiny house and getting back to nature. Chaos creates a maze, leaving you lost. For others, enough chaos brings comfort. You have to find your version of living a simple life. Wonder you get out of being a minimalist? Joy. Minimalists also have:
- Space to move in everyday life: Minimalists enjoy space and freedom to relocate when and where they want, because essentially there’s little stuff to pick up and move. The person picks themselves up as the primary object of focus.
- Travel is less of a hassle: Traveling becomes a joy, because you don’t have to worry about someone checking in on all of your stuff.
- Empowerment for seniors: Many retirees focus on minimalism to free up time to travel and work through a lifetime of collecting. Each useful item you give to someone else gets you a step closer to your goals.
- Your money is going toward experience: There are no money leaks toward more possessions to buy, use, protect and collect dust in the garage.
- Personal security: Can you relax in your home? That’s the biggest question. Do you delay going home to not have to deal with the mess?
- Social security: Have guests over whenever you want, instead of as a barrier and excuse to say no. When the house is in chaos, preparation for an event takes at least a day. It’s exhausting. Less clutter means more social security.
Less Stuff Equals Less Stress: Enjoying the Simple Joys in Life
The movement back toward organic farming, homesteading and tiny homes reflects the need western culture has for a simple, uncomplicated lifestyle. Your clutter is draining your personal energy, resources and time. Science and organizational experts also back up that point: People are more fulfilled and less stressed with less stuff. You experience less brain fog, which may be due to dust literally collected or the fact that finding what you need is like trying to find Waldo.
With less chaos and more minimalism, you are free to enjoy the simple joys in life. When you have too much stuff going on, it’s hard to figure out life. It’s really about living, and choosing a minimalist lifestyle will keep you grounded in that essential truth.
Photo by Sarah Dorweiler