Have you ever asked yourself “why do I hold onto this shit?”
Anxious downward spiral thoughts.
The sweater your old roommate got you… 2 sizes too small.
Every TIME, Women’s Health, Business Insider, and Psychology Weekly from 2009-2016.
The friend from high school that makes you feel guilty for being successful (why?).
The 5-inch cheetah heels you had to have because they were 50% off.
The catty personal trainer that manages to help you lose 10 pounds- 7 of which you are certain was confidence.
Can you think of anyone that doesn’t hold onto to anything they shouldn’t? Probably not.
If we aren’t conscious about how the way things around us make us feel, we will exist in a state of constant stress and confusion. How can we enjoy life like that? Yet, every single day, we hold onto shit that makes us miserable. I thoroughly believe we are only confined by the walls we build ourselves, and minimalism will aid you in knocking those walls down.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is a lifestyle choice that essentially requires the disposal of things that do not bring joy in order to create space for things that do. This revolves around getting rid of the negative and unnecessary, without guilt and remorse. You can choose to focus on physical possessions, such as maintaining a minimalistic closet or toxic relationships. I prefer to use minimalism as a guiding principal for relationships, emotions, and household items. By letting go of what you do not truly care for, someone else can come along and love those things. Although I don’t necessary think this quote applies to (most of the) people you have to let go, it is true that one man’s trash in another man’s treasure.
Minimalism is essentially disposing of things that do not bring joy, and making room for things that do.
Minimalism is not some cult you have to pay for. There are no rules except the ones you put on yourself. Some people stick with 100 or less possessions, while others are more lax in their minimalism. Remain intentional, and respect the mental and physical journey of minimalism, and you’ll be fine!
My Minimalism Journey
My life was in shambles. There are two types of people in this world, those who never forget anything and those who always forget something. I’m part of the latter group. One of the reasons was that I had a really difficult time letting things go. Hoarder is an understatement. My purse would be overflowing with receipts, business cards I took for NO reason other than to make the owner smile, trash bags, rocks, etc. Kinda hard to find your damn phone amongst that. My car? A literal hell-hole.
The worst part was my overflowing closet.
At 24, I share a 1 bedroom apartment with the love of my life. So, I have 1/2 closet to fit 4 seasons worth of clothes, including heavy jackets. For months it has been turning into a serious monster, sticking it’s little cloth fingers from under the closet door.
Picking out an outfit was a damned nightmare. I had so many articles of clothing but nothing to wear- which would make me feel guilty! By then I’d be so stressed I’d grab whatever was closest and least wrinkly.
Luckily, I stumbled upon the book Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, creater of the KonMari Method. The gist of the book revolves around the idea that we should only hold onto items that bring joy. For our own sanity, and for the vibrations of the universe. Without giving too much detail, because you truly should pick it up, I will have to say I never thought I’d feel compassion for an inanimate object, but Marie Kondo (the KonMari method) I dig it! Half-way through the book, I jumped right in.
Even though my wardrobe was small for american standards, I still had dozens of clothes that were left untouched for years. It took me three rounds over two months to bag up all of the clothes that no longer serve me. The best part? Now someone else can appreciate the items I used to love.
My Minimalistic Closet Rules
- It has to fit properly now. Try each item on.
- It has to be something I enjoy wearing. When you feel good, you look good.
- It has to be ready to wear. Can create an outfit with the item from current wardrobe.
The key to minimalism is that it is a journey in the truest sense. There is no true final destination or goal, other than mental relaxation. For 98% of my life, I absolutely despised cleaning and organizing. As in, I would completely avoid my domestic issues until someone finally spoke up, which would naturally lead to a small, yet needed, dispute. It’s a blessing I landed a patient man so domesticated he makes a bed like the Ritz, no shit.
But that’s not fair to anyone, is it? So after a few months of practicing, I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t have a near- panic attack every time I throw a scrap of paper away. I don’t feel guilty not responding to toxic people. I absolutely adore opening my closet to see this I no longer have to spend my mornings cramming my shoes and crinkled dresses back into the closet after getting ready. Moreover. I spend 1/3 the time doing laundry as I used to and I’ve made room for clothes that bring me joy.
Your Journey Doesn’t Have To Be The Same
As we all know, joy is much more than possessions, so my first advice is start with internal patterns and external relationships.
Whoever popped in your head has got to go. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known each other. It doesn’t matter if they remember your birthday every year. If you have a friend who brings you stress and bad vibes, why would you consider them a friend? It’s like staying in a relationship when you’re not that into a person. Waste. Of. Time. You deserve happiness.
Downward Mental Spirals
After a pitch or presentation, do you ever find yourself spending countless minutes, that turn into hours, overanalyzing and critiquing your every move? You convince yourself that you’re falling behind in your position. You probably won’t get a bonus this year. OMG! What if they fire you right before Christmas? Your boss never liked you.
You spend all your free time job searching on Glassdoor, Linkedin, and Craigslist. This goes on and on until finally two weeks later, your boss says, “I forgot to tell you what a great job you did on that XYZ project– keep it up!” Vow to deal with issues as they arise in reality, not in your mind.
The Habit You’re Slightly (Or Extremely) Embarrassed By
Get uncomfortably honest with yourself. What do you feel like holds you back from success? Or relationships? It could be something minor, like nail biting. Or, it could be a little bit bigger of a challenge, like a drinking problem. Eliminating a habit that causes emotional distress will allow you to live a healthier, happier life. In the next few weeks (June-August 2016) I’ll be creating some posts regarding habit tracking and goal setting.
For the Travelers
Going from lugging a 25 kg bag to less than 10 kg for a month long trip is LIFE changing.
- Never have to worry about checking the bag.
- Never have to pay last minute fees for RyanAir.
- Never hating yourself for being hungover and having to carry said 25 kg bag up 3 flights of stairs to get to the monorail.
Have you been there? I have. It was not pleasant.
By focusing on a handful of items you love wearing, preferably in an easy to please color scheme like blue/black/white/grey, will ensure you have confidence AND comfort. Even more important than the clothes is the accessories. How many times have you overpacked your toiletries? After freaking out the day before I left, trying to squeeze my huge BB cream bottle into contact containers, I used my BB cream one time over a 21 day trip.
Don’t Know Where To Start?
They say, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I’ve compiled a list of 10 simple ways to jump into minimalism that you can try today.
10 Simple Ways to Start Living a Minimalist Lifestyle
- Declutter all technology, including emails and apps.
- Identify toxic relationships by writing them down.
- Clean under the bathroom sink
- Write a letter of gratitude.
- Create a “To Don’t” List.
- Stick to one makeup item, such as lipstick or mascara.
- Choose one habit you’d rather live without.
- Schedule a full day of free time.
- Empty a junk drawer.
- Go a full 24 hours without social media.
Why hoard something that brings you stress? To give you a little taste of the pleasures of minimalism, stay HAPPY!