Could we become Minimalists?

This is such a huge topic. There are so many aspects to it that it would be too overwhelming to cover everything in one blog post. The concept of Minimalism is so simple and yet it seems like an enormous task to take on. So here we go… Let’s make a dent.
Could we drastically change the way we live?

Mindfulness and laying the groundwork

A little more than a year ago I started practicing daily mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness had been something that I had been aware of for quite some time and knew a bit about the research and all the benefits it promised. But it took a long time before I started my own meditation practice.
After desperately seeking some kind of calm, purpose and a way to deal with anxiety and the distracted chaos within my mind: I finally started by just doing 3 to 5 minutes of guided meditation a day. These are the free mindfulness meditations from UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center that I started with – and still rely on sometimes.

Mindfulness brought me an incredible calmness. Things seem clearer now. My mind has been uncluttered (mostly). When it starts to get frantic or anxious I can mindfully take note and know that it is temporary like everything else. Of course it is once again a simple concept but definitely not easy. It takes time and practice. It has shifted my view on everything. But mindfulness is not what this post is about. Definitely a future one, though!

My mind is calmer but my immediate surroundings seem to be entirely chaotic. Our house is cluttered, we have huge debt, we live paycheck to paycheck. The usual old story that everyone shares and complains about when visiting with friends. I deal with it thanks to my mindset. But maybe I don’t have to deal with it at all? Is there a way out of the trap?

A week ago:

In anticipation of Sam Harris’ new book Waking Up, I read an interview with him on theminimalists.com. He discusses the benefits of mindfulness and I would highly recommend a read.

In my naivety the thought in my mind was: The Minimalists, mm… what is a ’minimalist’ anyway? Why would people identify themselves as a style choice?
This led me down a new and very intriguing road of research into the topic. Frantic reading and a few Pinterest searches revealed something that was right in front of me all this time. It is not a style choice, it is a lifestyle choice. Aha! And it clicked. It is a philosophy. And it just fits so well into the mindfulness mindset.

Check out the tedx talk by The Minimalists.

Now:
As a crafter and artist, I am a collector by nature. Okay, okay, maybe ’hoarder’ is more apt a description. My husband is too. We always seem to see the creative potential in every rusty and broken object. Yet, these ‘projects’ are never finished or even taken on. So they end up somewhere in a box or a cupboard or a drawer or stacked somewhere – mostly in the garage. So, the car we can’t afford doesn’t even fit in it!
To top this all off: I tend to be a sentimentalist and do not easily part with items and struggle with saying “no” when offered something from somebody else who is obviously purging their clutter!
We also love new gadgets and we love beautiful things.

When you combine all of these factors, becoming minimalists will be one of the toughest things we have taken on as a family.
Yet we are stuck in debt, weighed down by pointless possessions and we need to drastically change the way we live. We need to free ourselves.

Minimalism promises to give us:
freedom from pointless consumerism,
better clarity in terms of our financial situation and some or all freedom from it,
more clarity and time in terms of the important things like spending time with our family and friends,
more clarity about and time to do what we truly find important

Mindfulness has set a good foundation. Now we need to free ourselves from the physical things that are holding us down.

This is an invitation to join us on our big lifestyle change. You don’t have to become a minimalist too. You are welcome to watch the process we go through and read about all the ups and downs. Hopefully you might learn something or feel inspired or at the very least find some entertainment in it all!

The (rough) plan:

*Declutter. Declutter the house, garage and my studio of obvious junk.

*Assess. Assess what remains and decide what we truly need. A wonderful quote by William Morris sums it up: “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”

*Sell. Sell things to pay off debt. Try to sell as many things as possible and use the money towards paying off our debt.

*Donate. Donate things to charities.

*Reassess. Reassess what is left. Which of these things do we really need? Which things are essential? How can we minimise some more?

*Make Time. Spend more time together doing stuff not acquiring stuff. Do fun and free things and make time to do these things. Like my doll making and new pursuits.

We will be starting in our garage (shudder!) this weekend. And then we will tackle the house.
Updates on our progress will happen every Monday and Friday. Can my husband, my daughter and I become minimalists? Let’s see how it unfolds.

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