Becoming a minimalist has been a journey, and it didn’t happen over night.
In fact, I only recently discovered the term minimalist and began to research what it is all about! I was about 18 years old when I realized that I didn’t have as much as the average 18 year old who was packing up and moving to college… and I felt happy about that. Moving to college was a breeze, because I only had a couple boxes of essentials and my clothes. I remember my sister commenting that she wishes she would have had less stuff when she moved to college, because it made the move much easier and quicker.
Since then, moving every 6 months to a year has taught me many valuable lessons; I’ve learned the art of letting go, and I’ve learned how to find true happiness.
1. My value is not in what I own, but who I am
What I have noticed about consumers versus minimalists is that consumers are controlled by the things they consume. Every physical item holds the utmost of value. The new Michael Kors purse has to be owned, other wise you aren’t “fashionable” enough. You have to own a record player, or you’re not “hip” enough. You have to have this and that. At the end of the day, the feeling of needing more boils down to where you place your identity. I see so many people struggle because they want more; they place their identity in their belongings. If they lack these things, they feel they aren’t worthy. But that’s not true. Your things do not define who you are. You might have a boring wardrobe, but that doesn’t mean you are boring. Your identity should be found in WHO you are as a person.
2. I have more than enough
By seasonally getting rid of excess things, I realize how much I have. I realize how BLESSED I am. I am increasingly grateful. Having a grateful heart can literally change your life. When I start to worry about how I will afford groceries, I remember my cans of tuna that I have, and I’m so excited. I have food. I have a meal – not everyone does.
3. I find joy in helping others
I’ve been able to give my used items to others who can re-use them. This is one of my favorite things in life – helping another person and watching them light up when they get something that they need. Most people who really need help are hesitant to ask – so I love being a blessing to others by giving them things; from clothes I don’t wear, to hangers I don’t need, to shoes that I haven’t worn – I enjoy giving people things they might need, that I no longer need because I have enough.
4. I save money
If the first three lessons don’t resonate with you, this one will. I have saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by simply having a habit of not needing something. Every time I want to buy something, I ask myself “Do I NEED this to survive successfully in this society?” Most of the time, the answer is no. Now don’t get me wrong, there are BASIC survival needs such as food, water, shelter and clothing. Other things that are considered needs, to me personally, are things in order to become an active and useful member of society. If I want to be useful in society, I need a job. In order to have a job, I must own a professional wardrobe. Meaning a couple pairs of slacks, and a couple pairs of nice blouses. I do NOT need every color of my slim cropped pants, and I don’t need 5 pairs of flats and 7 pairs of heels. One will suffice. I have found that I save a lot of money when I stop and ask myself if I really need said items.
5. Moving is easier
Lets face it, most people hate moving. It takes forever to pack up everything you own in boxes, and then unpack everything. Don’t lie, you probably still have unpacked boxes hiding somewhere in your home.
Being a minimalist, at the drop of a hat, I can get all of my things together, packed, and fit into one car (minus my mattress of course) in less than a couple hours. Each time I have moved, it only took two trips to move me. One trip with my essentials: food, clothes, and sentimental items (such as instruments, photos, letters, etc) and the other trip for my mattress, and other shelving and storage devices. Say goodbye to packing and unpacking for weeks on end. You’ll be done in a matter of hours.
6. I’m happier
Last, but definitely not least, I’ve become happier from having less. As mentioned in lesson no. 2, I’ve become increasingly grateful over the years for what I do have. It’s amazing how an attitude of gratefulness can change your life, but it really can. When you shift your thoughts from complaining to being thankful, everything is seen in a different light. You’re less worried, less stressed by the little things, and more happy in general.
Are you willing to give minimalism a try?
Detach yourself from the things you own. Let go. Give your extra couch to someone who needs a couch. Give your dusty books to someone who wants to read more but doesn’t have the resources to do so. Give your shoes to someone who needs them. You’ll find that when you detach yourself from your things, you become a lot less worried. You become happier. You become free.