This will be the first article in a series where I start practising minimalism. This week: what is minimalism and what can I do with it? For a while now, minimalism has been an exciting concept to me. It is a life philosophy that states that the unnecessary should be removed, with the idea that a simpler life is a happier life. And it’s true that there’s beauty in simplicity. But minimalism also seems like a hip movement, something that all the cool kids are doing. Is it really what it sets out to be?
What is this minimalism thing?
This is a repost of a 2015 article for archiving purposes. Due to a blog rebuild, the old post is no longer existent. Visuals may not entirely fit the new layout. Links have been last updated 2019/04/02.
As I said, minimalism is a life philosophy. It is a countermovement to the consumerism we see all around us today, where people buy more and more stuff on the belief that they get happier when they do so. A few years ago, some pioneers on minimalism went 180 degrees and started living with as few possessions as possible, sometimes owning fewer than 100 items. This was too extreme for most, myself included, and it took a while before minimalism resurfaced.
Nowadays, there are actually a lot of blogs you can find on the internet where practising minimalists talk about their lives, minimalism and what it brings them. The movement seems to have matured and grown quite a bit. However, it still is associated often with the more spiritual types, who also became vegans and started meditating. But, after a bit more searching, there are quite a few examples of minimalism with regular people.
The Idea of Minimalism
Minimalism is all about incorporating a form of mindfulness in our lives, where we look at what we own and do and in what way it adds value to our lives. It is indeed something that can be seen as a movement against consumerism, where everything we buy, own and do will not be guided by the idea that we will get happy if we have more, but that we will get happier when we only have things that actually add value. Then we can focus our lives on the things that are truly important: relations, personal growth and your health. There are no strict rules or guidelines, just the one idea of mindfulness.
Starting with Minimalism
So getting rid of stuff we don’t need in order to focus on the important things in life. That sounds nice, but how do we start? Well, there are plenty of options and suggestions out there that you can use, especially in the starting stages of developing the right mindset. I listed a few that seem doable to start with.
Fill one trash bag. This tip is from becomingminimalist.com. It challenges you to go through your house with one trashbag and just fill it with stuff you do not need and can throw away. Or, alternatively, fill it with things you can donate.
Spend 5 minutes a day. This tip is given in almost every list out there. Just decide on a room you want to declutter and use 5 minutes every day to decide what you need and what not. It starts off slow, but the result over time would be drastic.
Declutter a room in the weekend. Starting is the hardest part, but a strategic room-by-room approach is a great way to start with minimalism. Start with an easy room and get rid of all the clutter in one day. This is almost equivalent to a good cleaning in a room, it’s even possible to combine the two.
Clear a flat area. I got this tip from zenhabits.com. It means you take any flat surface, be it a table, your kitchen counter or a shelf, and empty it. Then place back only the items you actually use. An example of doing this is by moving all items to the left of a shelf and whatever you use will be put on the right. Then re-evaluate after a while.
Starting out with minimalism should be easy enough, what’s next is to actually get started. If you're looking for more tips and inspiration on decluttering, check out this guide on Trouva.
My Dealings with Minimalism
This series started off with me explaining minimalism, and during the next few weeks I decided to put it into practice. I’ve known the idea for a while , but a lot of procrastinating on it went ahead of this article. After all, I’m not perfect either. I didn’t get much further than donating a bag of clothes and buying with intention after a few months. Even though I have only one room (in shared housing), I must say it’s harder to get started than I thought, as good intentions alone don’t actually do anything.
Because I will be moving next week, I have challenged myself to actually start with minimalism by clearing my room as I start packing things. Whatever I don’t need and don’t actually use I won’t pack. Then, as I move, I hope to have a lot less stuff to take with me than I currently have, so I can continue to become a minimalist. Next week I will reflect on my progress and what it feels like to start decluttering.
So how about you? Did you know about minimalism before this? And what do you think of it? I’m eager to hear what you guys think.