Minimalism: Free Your Space and Mind
I’ve been on a kick of minimalism. It casually started when I began angrily throwing out my daughter’s cheap plastic toys the moment after I had stepped on them. Before I knew it, I was taking an inventory of my home and made a list of all the areas I wanted to declutter. I had noticed that I’d come home from work and feel physically and emotionally stressed by the visual clutter in my home. I was tripping over things, didn’t have clear spaces to cook on, and had difficulty keeping up with chores. My home, full of things I’ve worked for and should want, was really stressing me out.
It’s been about 30 days so far of decluttering and minimizing and I’ve learned a lot.
I’ve learned that I don’t have to accept more chaos or guilt into my life, especially not in the form of material possessions. The spare set of dishes, the toys my kid never plays with, the clothes I don’t wear. They all take up physical and emotional space. They demand to be looked at or moved when in the way. For me, it costs something mentally to keep these things. Why keep something that is not useful and does not make me happy? Why keep reminders of guilt? Why choose to get annoyed with myself every time yarn tumbles out of the closet in a reminder of that project I intended to do but never had the time to complete?
I’ve learned that it’s human nature to want to stash things sometimes. Things help us feel safe— we ask ourselves “what if I need this some day?”. It’s also rewarding and exciting to the human brain to buy and acquire things, but when does that stuff turn into a burden? When are we acquiring things that not only do we not need, but that also don’t even make us happy? Where’s the line between adaptive survival and buying what society tells us we should just to keep the status quo? I’ve learned to challenge these things. For example, I used to own “work clothes” before I had an “ah-ha moment” wherein I realized that I work for myself. I wear the same few comfortable items over and over again, so why let the “work clothes” get in my way? Why keep the shoes that no longer fit me after pregnancy?
I’ve learned to keep my money for what matters. “He who buys what he doesn’t need steals from himself.” What a radical act of self-love to spend your resources where they matter the most to you! I’ve been able to sell things and exchange the money for experiences- dinner out with my husband, a concert, someone to help me clean my home. I’m also saving money by simply not buying what I don’t need. And when you really question it, there’s a lot we don’t need.
I’ve learned it’s OK to keep things that make me happy, even if they are not practical or pretty. It’s fine to keep your stuff that you love! I have half of a tennis ball. It has sentimental value. My husband and I found it while on a walk back when we were just dating. Silly in love, he cut it in half so we each had a piece of that memory. What I’ve learned is to ask what am item has done to deserve a spot in my sanctuary of a home. Half a tennis ball of good memories? Deserves a spot. Half-read books that I feel guilty about not finishing? Doesn’t deserve a spot. Donate.
And speaking of donate, it feels really good to help others out! This was especially true with my daughter’s old toys and baby items. Yes, it was sad to let them go, but another child gets to enjoy them now and that’s a beautiful thing!
Lastly, I've learned that when I have less stuff to manage, I can live more. More time for playing with my daughter. More time for a walk in the woods. More time for a crossword puzzle. More time for... blog posts! :)
I’d also like to mention that I’m not everyone and my experiences are just mine. I understand that many people are not in my position of privilege. People who have experienced traumas, are living in poverty, have executive functioning disorders, or OCD will likely have different experiences with decluttering. There are big concepts where mental health, consumerism, poverty, and social class all collide and I could write pages and pages about it all. But for now, if you are feeling mentally cluttered because of physical clutter, try minimizing!