These days, we are surrounded by advertisements that promote the collection of stuff we don’t need. All this stuff is just dragging us down.
I’ve always wanted to be a minimalist. It seems like simple should be easy, right? But when it comes down to the reality of these days, living simple is a discipline, built like a habit, over time and with practice.
It’s not that I’m a hoarder. I like to live in a clean and clear space and I don’t have too much emotional attachment to most of my things. But somehow, if I’m not paying attention for a little while or I get too busy, the clutter starts to pile here and there. And it comes down to, do you control your stuff or does your stuff control you and your thoughts.
What is this consumer mentality?
I know some people truly struggle with a shopping addiction and I can understand. Sometimes there’s an emotional surge of good feelings that can come with making a purchase. But it doesn’t last. You always need to go back for more to replenish the ‘feel good.’
I remember when I lived on my own and had less financial responsibilities, I would go shopping almost every day even if it was just to the thrift store. And I didn’t go crazy over my budget because I was raised with a solid foundation of financial principles but I definitely wasn’t saving money at that point.
Everyone has a different conviction and financial boundary when it comes to buying things. But, with credit cards and loans so readily available to people, it seems that living within your means has become an ‘old-fashioned’ and even a foreign concept for some people.
You don’t even have to leave your kitchen table these days. Just one click buy on Amazon and you can have a new french press at your doors in half a day (believe me, I know.)
Making a change.
At this time, after having a family and getting married, our financial priorities have shifted and it’s just not realistic to shop the way I used to. It was actually hard for me and my will power in the beginning to resist going in a store and just spending a few buck on something new. But, like with any habit, the resisting gets a little easier with time.
At this point in my life, the desire to shop is still there, but definitely not as strong as it used to be.
And, it’s not that buying something new is bad. It doesn’t have to be! But knowing where your priorities are and making sure you focus on them first is imperative.
So while I’m still working on becoming a true minimalist at heart, I’m challenging myself to be more conscious of my buying decisions and what I allow in my home/life. There are so many aspects that you can work on to simplify your life. From clothes, to spending, to decluttering, to prioritizing.
Here are a few thoughts I collected to help with living more simply:
- We should begin by asking ourselves ‘What am I truly grateful for?,‘ ‘What makes me happy?‘ By shifting our perspective, accumulated possessions begin to loose their value.
- Putting less of an emphasis on things clears up space and time for what’s most important. My family, my relationship with God, my goals, etc.
- Live intentionally. Spend more time with people you love instead being busy with your things.
- Cut out time spent watching TV. This is hard for me sometimes. TV is my go-to unwind mode. But sharing life with someone who hates watching TV is an everyday compromise. TV watching has gone way down for me and productivity has increased. I won’t say it’s goal complete, but more of a ‘compromise in progress.’
- Find a place for everything in your home. If it doesn’t have a place, ask yourself it you really need it.
- Get rid of things that are broken or unusable. If it’s hanging around, it’s not only physically cluttering up your house but also taking mental space and building subtle stress.
- Donating is a great way to get rid of things. If someone else can benefit from what you have laying around more than you can, then donate it.
- If buying seems like an inevitable habit, consider taking a break from shopping from non-essentials. Challenge yourself; maybe for a month, maybe longer. Before buying something question if it’s something you need or just something you want. It’s hard but it can be done!
- Pare down your clothes to a capsule wardrobe and follow the one in, one out rule for maintenance. If you have clothes that don’t fit into your lifestyle, that don’t fit or look great on you, get rid of them. Have you worn it in the last month (or 6 months for that matter?) Take your seasonal wardrobe into account but if not, get rid of it.
- Don’t feel like you have to follow the trend and buy into this advertising culture. Let your life flow naturally from what you need with your own priorities in line. Don’t focus on keeping up with others. It doesn’t take you to your goals.
- Clean out your email and digital life as well. Unsubscribe to newsletters you don’t read and delete. It can save a lot of time in the long run.
- Make bedrooms technology free zones. This was a new concept to me on getting married as I always has my laptop by my bed. But it makes a huge difference to just have bed time as free of technology distraction. Our internet also doesn’t work past the bedroom doorway anyway, which drove me crazy at first but now I see as a good thing.
- Work to become, not to acquire.
Ultimately though, minimalism is not about having less. It’s about making more room for what matters. Take small steps but keep moving forward in you goals to simplify. Little by little, we can change the way we think and make our world a more positive place.
Print this intentional living sheet out as a helpful reminder of how we can simplify our lives and live with more freedom.