A cutting from my sweet neighbour, Kelly, has grown into this beauty
Forget all about the “lifestyle” instagram worthy pics of minimalism. That’s not what I’m writing about here. It’s not about having an almost empty house, or being surrounded by white walls, a couple of baskets and a Monstera plant. Minimalism is different for different people – though I do have a Monstera plant and I love it! Just sayin’. No shame! For me, minimalism is a practice, like an art practice, and it has provided contentment, deepened my appreciation of so much, and has helped my mental wellbeing. During these tough pandemic days, that’s been huge!
Here’s how it’s done that and might do the same for you:
1) Less stress and more calm. Less stuff means less stress. There is science behind that. Evidence shows that a cluttered environment can be stress inducing. Something as simple as not being able to find things because there’s too much stuff around, or the gnawing feeling that you really do want to “get organized” one day, can lead to anxiety and negative feelings.
Visually, clutter can make us feel stressed without our even being aware that it’s contributing to our uneasiness. Clutter-free and organized space conversely promotes calm and positivity.
I rarely have to search for what I need these days…believe me, that’s something new!
2) Increased happiness a.k.a. meeting psychological needs. If you feel that a low consumption, anti-consumerist life that doesn’t feed the accumulation machine and harm the planet is a good thing, then minimalism should make sense for you. For an anti-capitalist like me, it seems natural.
According to the self-determination theory, human motivation rests on three universal components: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. A 2016 study https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10902-016-9718-0 shows that people who live simpler lives, which favours these components, experience more life satisfaction (after a person’s basic needs like housing, food and health care, are met). The physical act of creating a comfortable, minimalist space – decluttering, cleaning, organizing – can also give us these feelings of autonomy and competence.
I feel I appreciate handmade objects, like this vase made by my husband, more than ever
3) A Different Relationship with “stuff”. Minimalism has changed my relationship with my stuff. It doesn’t in any way mean that I don’t like or value things! In fact, I realize that some stuff really matters to me even more than I thought it did. In being aware of all that I own and use, and love, I can appreciate things more. But I don’t have to have more things. I don’t need multiples of things, or stuff that’s been in boxes for ages, stuff I have to take care of, clean, move around, or that just exists around me with no meaning. I don’t need to keep things for years, just in case I need them one day. Just because I paid a lot for something, if it sits in my closet for years, what good is it doing me? Also, I can borrow things if needed briefly and I’m happy to lend things, too. Working through feelings about what I own has also made me learn about myself. I’m less possessive. If I’m not using an item or it’s not increasing the value of my life, then I can analyze and better understand my attachment to a specific thing. It also feels good to know that that someone else can derive pleasure or use from it, which makes it easy to part with.
4) Not looking to buy things to feel better. Whoever coined retail therapy was probably trying to sell us something. Limiting our ability to shop in stores due to the pandemic has shown us how addicted society is to shopping. At the same time, online sales are at record highs. This, even as many of us have little or no income. Credit card companies must be rubbing their hands in glee. It’s true there can be a temporary high when we buy something but it’s temporary and that feeling soon fades. Analyzing why I want something, whether I really need it, and questioning what value it will add to my life has made me resist buying what’s unnecessary, while making me better appreciate the things I have ultimately decided to buy. Wanting to feel better doesn’t send me to shop. There’s freedom in that.
5) Experiences, hobbies and fun stuff versus things. With fewer things to clean and take care of, I have freed up more time and space, both physical space and mental space. This lets me focus more energy and time on things I love to do.
6) Work Less and save money. My goal is to do less wage labour or any labour for monetary compensation, whenever possible.
I like folding origami. Cool way to leave a tip, too.
Of course, I have bills and need some money, but if I can spend less on things I don’t really need or want, and that allows me to work less, that’s the sweet spot. Want less, work less.
7) Taking the long view. Purging and decluttering is only a small, albeit important, part of a minimalist practice. It’s about owning less over the long haul and not letting the outside world dictate what you should buy and how you should be. Like social justice struggles, I look at minimalism as part of life, and similarly, it’s an ongoing thing. There is no end, but there are milestones and series of wins, and you have to keep at it. Otherwise, stuff will just accumulate again, and old habits and mindsets will creep back.
8) Less cleaning and handling of stuff, and a more organized space. This has been so gratifying. My place looks good and I’m able to relax and not only enjoy my place, but love it. Discovering better ways to do things, simpler ways, coming up with creative little hacks, is so satisfying. And having fewer things means less to clean and manage, and easier organization. Friends can drop by anytime – sadly not right now until COVID is behind us – and I won’t have to stress about getting the house “ready” for visits or events. It will always be welcoming and I’ll be glad that people can come and enjoy a nice space with me anytime. Oh, I am so looking forward to having people in the house again!
Cats are the only company we can have in the house, for now!
I feel like there are many more benefits but since less is more, I’ll leave you to think of how minimalism might make life better for you. And if simple living, minimalism, or my future planned posts on organizing tips, creative pursuits, slow living, book recommendations, and vegan recipes are of interest, please do follow the blog. I’d really appreciate it. And share with anyone you think might get something from the posts. I’m also thinking of doing a “day in the life” to show how minimalism has affected my routines and habits.
Til’ next week, have a great weekend! Christine