When many people hear the word “minimalist” when it refers to a lifestyle, they immediately think of someone who eats only rice and owns only a toothbrush and the clothes on his or her back (of course, though, in some cases this can be close to the truth). However, minimalism can be adapted in varying degrees in everyone’s life. And, in my opinion, it should be.
Everyone’s Minimalism Looks Different: Here’s Mine
I’ve embarked on my personal journey towards a more minimal lifestyle in recent months, and have felt a great weight lifted off of me. I look at possessions as an extension of my weight as I move through this life, and I discovered I was much too heavy to navigate effortlessly like I wanted to. I took a look at different areas in my home that overwhelmed me and took action. I started off by designating a “get rid of 100 things” weekend, and it continued from there. It gets easier! Here are a few of the areas I’ve cut down:
- Clothes. I’ve reduced the amount of clothing and shoes that I own by 50%, and I’m still going. By focusing on quality secondhand items, I’ve been able to look like a million bucks while spending 10-25% of what I’d pay for brand new outfits. (Want a pantsuit for interviews from Express for under $50? Try ebay!) Saving money isn’t the primary goal of this, but it’s a definite perk.
- Personal care products. I don’t buy shampoo or fancy body wash (I use Castile soap, baking soda, and vinegar and I’ve yet to be called out for looking or smelling strange). I make my own toothpaste and hairspray, and I have gathered enough body sprays over the years that I’m set. (Think about the concept of having multiple perfumes/colognes at your disposal. Isn’t that weird to anyone else?) My makeup collection gets smaller every day. I really only use mascara daily, but I have foundation, eyeliner, blush and a bit of eyeshadow on hand just in case.
- Food. Now, I will not admit to reducing my spending on food, but I’ve begun to simplify my diet. No boxed foods, pre-made meals, and I purchase canned foods sparingly. The cost is a bit higher, but there’s unlimited creative potential when you limit yourself to fruits, veggies, beans and rice (I’ve even started saying goodbye to pasta! Whaaaaat?)
To get started on your own minimalist-inspired lifestyle, make a list of your pain points at home. Contemplate what needs to go, and what needs to be upgraded (or downgraded). I found myself getting rid of automated things that cluttered my space, such my random quesadilla maker, old half-working blender, and even my auto-drip coffee maker! I spend a bit more time making better coffee in a french press and I’m enjoying the extra counter space.
Once you’ve identified your pain points, you can start making a list of what’s needed and what’s not, or you can do it like I did: dig in. Designate one bag for donations and one for trash, and take everything out of it’s hiding place. Is it necessary? Beautiful? Put it back on the shelf. If it’s neither of those things, toss it into the appropriate bag.
As you remove clutter one piece at a time, reflect on the fact that you’re losing weight! It’s stuck with you for this long, and it’s finally time to shed those pounds you’ve carried around since high school. (Why did I still have body spray from 7 years ago? Gross! But let’s note that I didn’t dump it, I just used it primarily for a few weeks to knock it out. It smelled just as good as the day I bought it!)
I’m finding that there are more and more facets to minimalism, such as getting rid of mental and emotional clutter (hello, more efficient workdays), and leading a more healthy and generous life, but we’ll cover that in later posts. Minimalism doesn’t have to be scary–it’s actually quite fun, and if you start by getting rid of some possessions, you’ll find yourself focusing on what’s truly important and necessary. I love William Morris’s quote:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
I enjoy weeding out knick-knacks in dusty junk drawers with those wonderful words ringing in my head. I challenge you to get rid of 100 things this week, and let me know how it goes!
Need more inspiration? Check out Becoming Minimalist. It’s refreshing and encouraging, and I love hearing about people are using minimalism to increase their happiness and improve their lives.