As a family, we are on the road to minimalism. Like many other ventures I’ve tried, with minimalism I want to see instant change instead of accepting that this is going to take awhile.
I didn’t become an addicted consumer overnight, so shedding the trappings of our materialism will also be a slow process. Yet I find myself impatient for a different way of life. I long to be counterculture, debt free, only living with what I need and dumping my excess possessions.
With all major life change, it helps to break it down into small, manageable steps. When I look back, I see that I’ve been simplifying now for several years as both kids began school and stopped playing with so many toys, books and games. Most parents become accustomed to jettisoning clothes and supplies that their kids have outgrown, but this past winter something changed for me.
I began doing 15 minute jobs each day. I wrote down the areas of my house I wanted to tackle (kid’s bedroom closets, kitchen drawers, linen and bathroom cupboards, laundry room, etc.) and I set a timer for a 15 minute blitz of each location. I did this for weeks and months; donating, tossing or selling items based on the answer to this question: do I actually use this?
Before, the question would be much less specific, more like: will I eventually need this? I learned from The Minimalists that “just in case” are three of the most dangerous words in our culture today. And from Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist, I got a fresh life philosophy: “It’s better to want less than to have more.”
Are you interested in minimalism? Do you want to get off the consumer treadmill and try to find happiness in other places besides overspending on bigger houses, luxury cars and designer labels? These are the beginning 3 steps we’ve taken towards a simpler way of living.
Step 1: Only Keep What You Need
Start with the easiest areas of your house, like drawers full of batteries and take-out menus from 2008. Work up to harder things like photos, books, DVDs and knickknacks from family vacations. Don’t store it in your house if you don’t use it regularly.
Step 2: Understand Why You Are Minimizing
If you don’t see the value in what you are doing, it’s not likely to last. The more clutter you clear out of your physical space, the freer you will feel. Your priorities get sharper, it’s easier to make decisions for your future, and you’ll be less likely to continue to buy more when you see how satisfying it is to live with less.
Step 3: Tune Out Consumerist Cultural Messages
Tune out the cultural message that bigger and more is always better. If this advertising onslaught were true, wouldn’t your happiness level rise along with your income, mortgage, online shopping and number of possessions filling your garage, basement, bedrooms and rented storage bays? We’ve all been sold a lie. Moving further from debt sets us free from a useless, soulless competition for who has the most and best stuff.
There are more steps to freedom from consumerism, but these three are a great place to start. Drop me a line and let me know if you’d enjoy hearing more on this topic as I’ve got lots to say! We’ve seen our lives change from the inside out as we head down this minimalist path.