Happy New Year, friends! I hope that your year has started out well. I wanted to take a moment today to talk about a lifestyle change that has benefited me greatly and to share some resources on how you can learn more about it.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines minimalism as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Around seven months ago, I began to explore minimalism without really even knowing what it was. My teaching job had ended for the school year so I was looking forward to a summer to work on other projects. When I first stayed home for a couple days, I started to feel overwhelmed in my own space. Generally when I am working, I am able to tune things out that bother me and just do what must be done. But when I finally had those first few days to myself, I knew that I wasn’t at peace with my surroundings and that I was actually somewhat anxious. This is when I started to declutter my space and look for resources on how to do so efficiently. This opened the door to me finding and adopting minimalism. As I’ve explored this lifestyle over the past 6 months, I’ve started to see many benefits.
1. I spend less time getting ready & tidying up
Prior to decluttering and adapting to a more minimalist lifestyle, tidying up used to take me a lot of time each day. When getting ready for work, I would pull out so many tops, pants and shirts. Then I would pull out different pairs of shoes, going carefully through several pair before rushing out the door, leaving all of the items I didn’t choose on my bed or floor. Upon returning home, I would be annoyed by having to put these items back before I could relax. Now, I have fewer items to choose from so this process is nowhere near as taxing as it used to be. I simply take out a top or bottom that I love, match it with shoes I love wearing and get out of the door. Even if I do take out multiple items, it is generally much less than I used to pull out. When you have less to start with, there are fewer items to put back.
2. I experience more peace & rest in my own space
Last year, I vowed to create spaces in my home that would allow me to experience peace and to connect with God without interruption. When I decided to pursue minimalism, I read the book “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo. In the book, Kondo describes how important it is to be surrounded by items that quite literally “spark joy” for you. As I pared down my items, I held every one, asking myself if it was something that I truly enjoyed. What I learned was that many of the items I had were being kept out of obligation, guilt or security. After the first round of letting to of things that held no value to me, I immediately felt more at peace in my space. I attribute this to the fact that virtually every item that was left in my possession was something that I really, really loved or needed. I am now able to read, study, pray, work and enjoy company without feeling self-conscious about the things in my space. It has brought me much more calm.
3. It encourages me to make sustainable choices
After I started living with less, I began thinking about what would happen to all the items I no longer needed. Would someone actually purchase the items I donated to thrift stores? Now I was concerned about where these items would go, what role they would play in lives and what role they played in the life of its maker before getting to me. A few months back, I stumbled upon a documentary on Netflix called “The True Cost.” This documentary explored how cheaply made items impact the people who make them, the environment and how American consumerism (that is at an all-time high) is driving this industry. Fast fashion, one of the major causes of this problem, is one that I have supported. It’s not that I didn’t know that cheap items don’t last, (my grandmother was telling me that years ago) but more so that I didn’t realize how large of an effect they would have on the environment. Now that I am aware of this issue, I can ensure that the items I purchase are long-lasting, won’t be a major detriment to the environment when I am done with them and that the people who create them are supported the way they need to. If you see me in Target, don’t flog me. 🙂 Just know that I am still learning about the sustainable options that are available.
4. It helps me to spend wisely
Prior to becoming a minimalist, I loved buying things. For me, this started in high school when I first began to make what I would call “significant” money. I remember being so excited that I could pay for my own clothes and shoes, and literally started buying a pair of shoes each month when I could. It wasn’t that I needed a new pair of shoes each month, but I loved the attention having a great pair of shoes would bring when I wore them out with friends, to church or to an event. This habit didn’t last very long (as my college expenses didn’t allow such spending), but after college I started to see this habit come back. After my first year of work, I started to pare down on my clothing spending, falling out of love with the shopping habit. But every now and again, there would be that one pair of shoes or nail polish or book that I just had to have. As a Christian, I believe that I should have self-control over every area of my life, including my spending. Minimalism has helped me to ask the important questions regarding what I purchase like: “do I need this?” “how many times will I use it?” or “do I already own something that can serve the same purpose?” Minimalism helps me to be a better steward of the resources God has given me.
If you are interested in learning about this lifestyle, I have linked several resources to the Minimalism page in my Resource Library. If you decide to declutter or explore minimalism, please let me know. I would love to hear more about how it has impacted your life in the Comments section.
Thanks for reading,