My husband and I were watching a documentary the other night on Netflix (because we are just cool like that) and it was about being a minimalist. Minimalism is a concept that is actually very popular right now and one that both my husband and I have been fond of for a while now. Neither of would be ballsy enough to become a true minimalist, In fact, we are currently honorary members of the pack-rat mentality. He has a book collection big enough to fill one room alone and let’s not even talk about my craft supplies and shoes.
I have often fantasized about living a simpler lifestyle where I have a sufficient amount of things to keep my outfits fresh and to have an aesthetically pleasing environment but not so much that I feel overwhelmed by it all. It gets tiring cleaning up clutter day after day and digging through a closet only to find that amazing top you forgot you had.
We all have that one spare room, attic, or garage that is just packed full of stuff. I asked my husband, “If ninjas came in the middle of the night and took everything that is in the garage, what would you miss?”. Neither of us could even remember what is out there even though it is so full that we can’t even park the car in it. That made me so sad. How could we have that much stuff?! But how do we live a more minimalist lifestyle while living in a two story suburban house in a society that is so consumer driven?
My ultimate goal with all of this is to feel more peaceful and mindful of what I have. In our parents’ and grandparents’ time, they knew exactly what they had and were thrilled to get a new dress or book. Yes, it was during times of war and famine. Money was tight for so many people that they couldn’t just go out and buy new things every week. When they did get new things, they appreciated the heck out of them. I honestly think that there was something so genuine and peaceful about that.
I don’t want to only buy a new pair of panty hose once a year or get a new dress once every three years but I do want to reach the same level of appreciation and mindfulness. I want to surround myself with a reasonable amount of things that also all bring me happiness and enrich my life somehow. Otherwise, what’s the point, right?
I love decor and I am certainly not of the one-photo-on-the-wall and maybe a shelf or two mindset. I like for my living space to be full and homey. I also like having options when it comes to my wardrobe and makeup and I truly enjoy my collection of Lush bath bombs! They mentioned in the documentary how so many people don’t even remember a large percentage of what they have let alone use it. It took me a lot of time and practice but I think I have figured out how to start to get closer to my goal.
Just to reiterate, my goal isn’t quite “minimalist” but it also isn’t “hoarder”. It has more to do with cutting back. The ideal would be to have enough stuff to have variety without having an excess. I call it being a “sufficientist”. After reading several books including the oh so popular Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and several of Leo’s articles from Zen Habits as well as watching various documentaries on minimalism and happiness, this is what I have come up with. It won’t be easy and it may take a lot of practice.
A FEW EXERCISES
I want to incorporate the following mindsets into my everyday lifestyle:
- Don’t buy without truly thinking about the item and learn to savor the things I buy. I like to call it the twenty-minute sweater rule. I simply walk away and if I still want it in twenty minutes then get it. I have a tendency to buy something and leave it in the bag for a week before I get around to putting it away or using it (it’s shameful). Everything in my closet should mean something to me or make me feel fantastic in it.
- Follow the Sea Shell theory (if you are not familiar with it, i’ll link it here). Basically, I only allow myself to have a certain amount of items in various categories, like books or shoes. Whenever I buy something new, it has to replace something I already own in that category. That way, I really consider how much I want it and how much I like the things I already own.
- Keep things in their designated place. I get really depressed when I have no place to put something because I have too much stuff. It just feels bad. I really want to appreciate what I have.
- Don’t keep things just because I “might” use them one day. There could be someone else out there who wants it way more than me.
- Do not (and this is a hard one being a blogger and fashion lover) get caught up in the buy buy buy rush that the world is so consumed in right now.. I see cute outfits all the time on Instagram and I immediately want to know where the girl got it so I can get one too. It is an easy thing to get sucked into and it doesn’t mean I can’t buy new pieces or go shopping. It just means that there needs to be a certain level of mindfulness of what I am buying.
These are just the beginning and only some rough ideas. I will post later as I tackle individual categories like my makeup collection, wardrobe, kitchen supplies, the dreaded under-the-bathroom-sink area, and more. For now, I have made up a challenge to do for one month and it will look something like this:
For the entire month of May, I will be placing a garage sale sticker (little round guys) on everything that I use. I won’t try to use less or anything, just simply mark the stuff I do use. For clothes and things that get washed on a regular basis, I will be using them then placing them in a special hamper or on a separate clothing rack. At the end of the month I will take inventory on all of the stuff I actually used and go from there. I may repeat the experiment for another month just in case there is something that just doesn’t happen to be needed in one month. I am not including seasonal clothing or holiday decorations. I am also not going to mark the frames on the walls or the bookshelves. It is implied that I use those.
If you decide to participate in this experiment, please let me know. I would love to hear about your progress and what you think of the idea.