Making the decision to embody the theory of minimalism just over a month ago has been a major adventure. I’ve learnt plenty about myself and the ideals other people have that i don’t want to take part in. There has definitely been a sharp learning curve, and everything I have taken from the exercise of living in boxes has been a positive experience; I’ve learnt so much about myself in such a short space of time.
If your always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you are going to be – Maya Angelou
Desire can be a disease
In the last month I have learnt some of the most important personal lessons as well as realised that there is a major disease on society, the disease of desire.
Desire is to want more, whilst a great motivator to be successful, it has developed into people wanting more than they actually need or require in their day to day lives. We want more cars, clothes and technology. People buy books to put on their coffee tables that they will never read or clothes that will never leave their closets. They spend money on expensive things in order to impress people they have never met on social media, drink more to show they can and not remember the night they were supposed to enjoy. The go through life taking photos and videos to show people they have more then they do; but they’re missing the most important thing, experiencing the adventures they are going on and actually living their own life.
I went to the zoo with my sisters once, we walked down to the little viewing area where you can see the penguins swimming under water. My sisters are stood their watching and enjoying the moment, asking a nearby keeper questions; learning and experiencing life. The thing I took away from that zoo trip was not the fun of viewing the animals, it was a little boy. He was no older than 5/6 and he was following the penguins around in this underwater area. He was watching through an iPad, following them through the video camera filming them, not enjoying the marvel that was probably the first time he had seen a penguin, but so determined to have his iPad.
Seeing this little boy really resonated with me, and I see it every time I go to a concert or go exploring on holiday. People view everything through their cameras, streaming on Snapchat or posting on Facebook. Showing everyone that they have things in their life, but never actually living or experiencing it. I think this was the first time I truly realised that I wanted more out of life, that I wanted to explore life and not just live it.
Learning to say ‘No’.
I’ve learnt to say no to myself and others this month. Not to work constantly and not live my life, but also to say no to myself when I want something I do not need. Seeing something you really like in a shop, but you really don’t need; just having the ability to say no, I really don’t need this.
Being able to say no to people is a vital skill to have in life. Saying no to people doesn’t mean you are a horrible person; its about how to look after your self. You definitely don’t have to say no all the time, after all, you’ll never conquer your fears if you say no to things that scare you. Its more about not overloading yourself with work, not doing things because people tell you too and not because you want to. Its how you look after your wellbeing and stay that positive and motivated person by spending time looking after yourself, not always others.
If you want more time, freedom and energy, start saying no.
Embracing empty space
When you adopt a minimalist aesthetic you really do need to embrace the idea of empty space. I think this is usually one of the hardest things for people if you haven’t fully understood and admitted that you are a sufferer of the disease of desire.
When you have gotten rid of things you have no feelings for or the need to keep, you have a lot of space left over; empty shelves and cupboards that you mindset really wants you to fill. Embracing partly filled shelves and the whiteness of the walls is vital to beating the desire for more and successful adopting the ideals behind minimalism. You are essentially creating space for memories and things that are truly needed in your life.
Empty space makes rooms bigger and brighter, this helps you to clear your mind and your emotions. It helps you be more productive and reduces the probability of making mess, which can often reduce your mood when you come home. It doesn’t mean that all your belongings need to be crammed into cupboards and you can have no pictures on your walls. You need to develop the understanding that if your belongings don’t take up a whole bookshelf, then you don’t need to buy more books to fill the shelves.
Understanding and interpreting minimalism
The major thing I have learnt in the last month is how much my initial understanding of minimalism is wrong; and how although you can embrace someone else’s definition of minimalism, you always develop your own personal definition and lifestyle rules.
Originally, I believe that minimalism was about living with as little as possible and not buying anything else unless absolutely necessary. That you could only have the things you used very day, few clothes and books and nothing that didn’t really have a function. For some people this may be the way they decide to live minimally and this may work for them.
Personally, I believe its about not buying items because you can, or society believes you should. Its about having things that you use or hold memories. If you buy things, you buy quality because it will last longer and be of good quality. In my first month of minimalism I have gotten rid of plenty of things, I have also brought some things too. Each item I have brought has followed a few criteria:
- Must be used more than once
- Be of good quality
- Actually buying for a reason and not because i can
- Never be bought as soon as I see it – no impulse buying
It’s about not buying cheap things because you see them in a store, not buying tonnes of cheap clothing because there new but won’t last as long as better quality clothing. Its about ensuring that every item in your wardrobe is a loved and wanted item, frequently worn. That everything you own makes you smile when you see it, or is used.
The last month has definitely been a positive learning experiance and I’m really happy that i made the decision. I have learnt so much about myself and really learnt to not hoard things because society tells me i should own lots of stuff. I have to move in a month and a half and i am certain when i do, much more of the stuff i am reluctant to say goodbye to will probably go. I hold a lot less emotional ties to belongings that i have no memories in.