A lot has been said about minimalism already. There are way too many blogs and YouTube channels on the subject so I don’t want to go into an elaborate explanation. In fact, I got drawn into the minimalism movement after I stumbled across The Minimalists blog and soon after discovered a goldmine of online resources on the subject.
Something about it struck a cord and I immediately found myself being drawn to minimalism. I decided to embrace the minimalist lifestyle, in my own way off course! Some of you may have noticed my #projectminimalism hashtag on Facebook. I have been trying to simplify every aspect of my life this year and so far it has proven to be both challenging and liberating. However, this post is not about my minimalism journey. This is about a very valuable lesson that I learnt in the process, which I wanted to share with you here today.
What is minimalism?
For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, Minimalism is about owning less stuff and purging your life of unnecessary objects. So, once you’ve decided to live that way, you are forced to confront each item in your home and ask yourself what it really means. Most often than not, it’s not the object itself but the memories attached to it that are difficult to let go.
So, ultimately it boils down to questions like, “Is this memory that important to me?” or “Is the memory valuable enough to me today?” Sometimes, if you have the patience and the inclination to have this conversation with yourself, regarding each and every item in your home, you’ll find that more often than not we actually use only 20% of the stuff we own! And the rest of the stuff are “just in case” items or “so and so gifted it on so and so occasion” items etc.
Minimalism requires courage
So, not only does it take time and effort but being a minimalist also requires courage. Why do I say this? Well, because I have done the exercise myself and I have successfully “chosen” which memories to keep and which to throw. Sometimes it also helps when we think of it this way; the memories are not in the objects themselves, they are within us.
So yes, choosing to live minimally requires a lot of emotional introspection. And that in itself changes the way you perceive life. It has been an eye opener for me. No, that doesn’t mean I have thrown away all my sentimental keepsakes! It also doesn’t mean that I have got rid of my furniture and own only three pairs of t-shirts! Hell no! Being an artist and maker, I anyway own a lot of materials that normal people won’t have in their homes. Like paint, an array of hand tools, jewellery making supplies and some beautiful junk that I intend to work with! Minimalism means curating your possessions to suit your life and not the other way round.
Minimalism is not punishment
Minimalism has taught me to question my actions and habits. Living a minimalistic life means living intentionally. Contrary to what many people think, minimalism is not a radical concept. It is not a punishment. Nobody tells you what to do or gives you guidelines to follow. You chart your own principles in accordance to your preferences and lifestyle. At the end of the day it is meant to better your life and give you more freedom, not cause you more stress.
The most valuable lesson that I learnt is this; we acquire objects, memories and experiences everyday but we also need to keep discarding the less important ones along the way. If our brains are like enormous hard drives then we need to prioritise what stays in it and what doesn’t. Our homes are also similar in that way. It is meant to give us shelter and most of all comfort and security. Our homes are not a trash bin, neither are they warehouses or museums. Too much stuff burdens us emotionally and psychologically. Too many reminders of the past doesn’t let us move on. It’s important to let go.