What is minimalism and why would we want to live a minimalist life?
Let me share my experience with you, so I can answer that for you.
In deciding to move to France, my husband and I needed to make the big decision of how much stuff to take and what to leave behind.
As we began packing up the house, it became super clear that the easiest (and cheapest) way to navigate this big move, was to downsize.
Like, really downsize.
So the clear out get underway.
Bags of clothes were taken to the Op Shop or given to friends (save for some previous vintage threads).
Every time we had friends over we’d say ‘Take a look around, what do you want?’
We liked the idea of giving most of our possessions away as opposed to selling them.
It was our way of giving back; sharing the love with those who needed it most.
Being generous can only be a good thing for you, me, for all of the world, right?
So we gave and we gave some more; furniture, clothes, ornaments and books.
It had always been my dream to own my own personal library and with hundreds and hundreds of books to my name, I had pretty much achieved that.
But I couldn’t take all those books to France.
So I began going through my collection, gifting books to those who saw value in them.
The more stuff we got rid of, the more I wanted to get rid.
While there was hesitation over some things, as the weeks wore on, that attachment dissipated and I came to a lovely place of peace in letting go of what had been some of my prized possessions.
Then there was my car.
My ’66 Mustang (which I’d affectionately named Missy).
I’d saved my pennies for this baby.
She was literally my baby before I had a baby.
Missy was my dream car who I’d bought with the intention of keeping her for life.
We’d broke down together (numerous times – before I spent a small fortune on rebuilding her engine and upgrading pretty much everything under the hood), we’d travelled all over the place together, we’d featured in a pin up photo shoot together, she’d chauffeured me to the other love of my life on my wedding day…
We’d had a very special relationship!
Now, I had to… what?
Let her go?
You can’t be serious!!!!
Problem is, it’s not like you can put a vintage car in storage; it needs to be driven.
And shipping her over probably wasn’t the greatest of ideas.
I contemplated this one for a very long time, until I came to the conclusion that perhaps the real learning in owning Missy, was realising that I didn’t need her.
I work from home, so I really don’t drive much, and often prefer to take public transport so I don’t have to worry about parking!
On a deeper level we all know that physical possessions don’t bring lasting joy.
They might satisfy some need or craving, but once the shine’s worn off we go back to feeling exactly how we felt before we owned the fancy car, the big screen tv, the designer dress, the new gadget that does… what does it do again??
But even worse than the fact that physical possessions fail to bring lasting joy, is that they actually take us away from living a joy-filled, purposeful life.
They distract us from what matters most.
As much as I loved my sexy wheels, there was a lot of upkeep.
Cleaning it, polishing it, making sure it went for a regular drive to keep the engine healthy, checking the oil, checking the water, getting it serviced…
I soon realised that once I let Missy go, I would have more free time to… well… spend time with my gorgeous son, hang out with my wonderful husband, do a nourishing yoga practice, go for a rainforest walk (one of my favourite things to do)… I could…
I could go on and on and on, and list all the things that put a smile on my face, but you get the point.
Owning less possessions = more quality time.
Even having less clothes meant I could actually see what items I owned, making it easier to decide what to wear.
I remember having days where I would go to choose an outfit and end up sitting on the wardrobe floor in a pile of overwhelm.
Did I really need that much choice when it came to clothes?
Tell me again why I owned so many clothes?
Throwing out my possessions became a beautiful time of self-discovery.
I was starting to connect in with my motivations for owning certain items.
As I threw out the fifth piece of clothing that still had it’s tag onit, I realised that I kept thinking that that next dress would be it.
Once I owned that dress my wardrobe would be complete.
I would be complete.
Yet, chances are I’d forget I bought it, and like many of my gorgeous threads, would get buried amid the racks of coat hangers and never get worn.
And why did I buy it?
Because as a child I wasn’t allowed to have nice clothes.
They cost too much!
So now that I had money, I bought what I wanted.
Not because I needed them, but because I could.
And those books.
Why had I bought so many?
About a third of which remained unread?
Because I saw it as a sign of wisdom, wasn’t it?
Yes, it’s true that I learnt a lot from all my books, but I could have borrowed them from the library, couldn’t I?
And what about those books that I started to read and didn’t like?
I kept them.
Because I wanted a library, not because they held value for me.
These books had become nothing more than dust collectors.
Yet another thing to have to keep clean!
Once I cleared out my books, my collection only contained those that truly inspired me; only the books that I would recommend to a dear friend.
While I was feeling much lighter, I also felt a little guilty.
So much stuff, so much waste.
I began to reflect: If I’d not bought all this stuff, boy I’d be rich right now!
But then I realised something more important…
I needed to go through this process.
I needed to accumulate all this stuff so I could learn just how unnecessary it all was.
And how if I’d used the time I’d spent browsing online shopping sites, learning French instead, I’d probably be fluent by now!
How much time, energy and money had I spent on things that really didn’t matter?
Ok, let’s not add that up!!!!
The truth was, I was richer for this experience.
It had revealed to me much about myself that I was not aware of, and awareness is the first step to healing.
The more I downsized, the more I realised how my possessions had been weighing me down.
They’d become somewhat of a burden.
The upkeep on a four bedroom house and big rainforest garden takes time; time away from the special people in my life.
Time away from the things in life that I valued most.
By owning fewer possessions, I was freeing myself up to pursue the things that really mattered!
And that, as I soon discovered, is at the heart of minimalism.
Put simply, minimalism is about learning how to live with less.
Minimalism is the pursuit of owning less.
And while I never thought I’d be saying this, my pursuit for more had become a pursuit for less.
The less I owned, the freer I could be to travel the world with my little family, and take time to smell the proverbial sunflowers!
I realised part of the reason behind our decision to move was to experience a simpler life – cheaper rent, less obligations, less ‘stuff’ – so we could have more time to explore, to pursue our passions, to connect with one another.
Yes, that would mean working less hours, and spending more hours frolicking in life
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we value and the removal of the things that take us away from those things.
This whole clean out helped me connect more deeply with what was truly important to me.
My son, my husband, and my purpose.
Living every day being real, exploring, connecting.
This is what life is really about, which begs the question:
What if we were to fill our lives with rich experiences instead of stuff?
Would that give us more stories to tell.?
More opportunities for connection?
Experiences, interactions, simply being?
Yes, yes, and an emphatic yes!!!
So why do we seek to accumulate more and more and more, even though most of this ‘stuff’ never gets used more than once?
Because we have been conditioned to believe that in order to be happy we need to have more.
The average person sees 5,000 advertisements every day and every single one of them seeks to convince us that possessions make us happy.
Since the day we were born we’ve been told that a good life is one where we own a lot, even if it means we have to work 100 hours a week to pay for it.
If we don’t own the mansion, the pool and the entertainment system better suited to a cinema, then we’re not doing very well.
Oh, you don’t have the latest I-phone or the fastest wireless Internet?
Yet the truth is, you can’t ‘buy’ happiness.
Happiness doesn’t come wrapped in diamonds.
Happiness comes from within.
From living our truth.
From living with integrity.
From spending time doing things that light us up, with the people who inspire us most.
Happiness is an inside job!
So today I invite you consider whether you really need all that you currently own.
Go on, have a good think about it.
Consider all the things that take your time.
Do they nourish you?
Or do they take you away from the things that would fill you with purpose?
The reality is, the more things we have, the more time we spend cleaning, sorting, re-ordering, not to mention packing and unpacking every time we move.
I’ve now seen it first hand, that my house is so much easier to keep clean when there is less stuff clogging up the space.
And as a result I feel lighter, freer and much more at ease.
Just ask someone who owns a lot of stuff whether they’re truly happy and fulfilled?
Chances are, the answer will be ‘No’.
They’re probably super stressed and don’t even have time to enjoy that Ferrari they bought five years ago, because they’re too busy working to pay the mortgage on their third home.
People who live their lives in pursuit of possessions are never content.
They always desire newer, faster, bigger possessions.
They get stuck in the ‘more’ cycle.
Now I need this to be happy.
Yet deciding to explore minimalism does bring up some questions…
Who am I without my possessions?
Who am I without all the things I once thought helped me fit in or appear a certain way to others?
By addressing the deeper needs that hide behind our purchases, we give ourselves the opportunity to let go of the patterns and behaviours that are not serving us.
We shine light on our true motivations in life.
We get to know ourselves on a whole new level.
I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again:
There’s more to life than buying and accumulating stuff.
There’s minimalism, and all that it has to offer us.
Ok, where to from here?
Before you faint in a pool of overwhelm, know that you don’t need to get rid of everything save eight boxes, like I am.
Take it one room, or one cupboard at a time.
Ease into it.
As the resistance bubbles to the surface each time you contemplating getting rid of that thing you no longer use, take a deep breath in and let it go.
Consider how much lighter you would feel having less.
Focus on how much more time you’ll have for the people and things that really matter.
Not sure what matters most to you?
Use this de-cluttering – this minimalism approach – as an opportunity to go on a spiritual journey of evaluating the necessities in your life.
Keep those things that mean the most to you, and do away with the rest.
You may even find that you no longer feel the need to own some of your most prized possessions, like a ’66 Mustang!
Yep, she’s now on the market, waiting for her new owner to love her even more than I have.
As I share this story of minimalism with you, I’m super excited to let all I have accumulated in this chapter of my life go, so I enter the next chapter free of possessions.
So I can go on our big adventure to France.
So I can truly live!