Guide To Being A Minimalist
Being a minimalist isn’t for everybody, but for those who want a change or to live out a radical New Year’s resolution, it could make a huge difference to your daily experience of life. It’s not only about shedding things but having a different attitude to the things you have, so that the stuff you have ends up serving its function and no longer has the same hold over you. Here is some guidance on how to start.
Clothes are a massive part of our lives. Most of us spend 99% of the time wearing them (the other 1% in the shower). You must decide on how many clothes you really need. Unless you’re a global celebrity, you only need X number of skirts or Y number of jeans. Whatever the number ends up being, stick to it and try to shed as many clothes as you can. On the whole you will need 7 pairs of socks and underwear, because we tend to do the washing at least once a week. Unless you’re doing a rigorous work-out, you don’t need to change these things each and every day. Decide what is more important – a clean, clear closet and peace of mind, or 50 sweaters and 50 dresses that you’re probably only going to wear a few more times in your lifetime.
Cups, dishes, plates, glasses, bowls, knives, forks. Who needs so many? If you mix in circles where such things are highly important then maybe you need to find new circles in which to mix! There are many people who shop in thrift stores or Salvation Army stores, who would gladly take your old items and put them to good use. Either that, or you can upcycle various items; for example, large serving bowls make excellent flower-points, while a range of glasses can be used to cultivate a useful, fledgling organic herb garden
Your kids quickly grow out of both clothes and toys; consider donating to charity via your local church or thrift store, or even post various item on an online auction site. It’s mind-blowing what people will actually buy. We forget which stage we are at in life, and for a young family starting out your trash could be their treasure. Christmas donations or donations to poorer countries are also an excellent way of putting old toys to good use. The cost of doing this is either zero or minimal, but the wellbeing and sense of inner peace you will gain is worth its weight in gold.
You’d be surprised at how many toiletries, medicines, towels, and beauty products you own which you never use, or almost never use. You might consider asking around within your extended family, to see if there is anyone in your less immediate orbit who might appreciate them. College students spend four years living on a budget and are often in debt. Young families who have just purchased their first home are always looking to budget and save where they can. We forget that we move along in life, and the things we once used are surplus to requirement. Shed them!
CDs, DVDs, Books
With the invention of e-book readers, the availability of free online books, libraries, and CD / DVD wallet holders, you can ditch a lot of your collection and become a sensible, eco-friendly consumer and recycler. When is the last time you watched any of your DVDs? How many CDs did you get through last year? Consider even burning these things on to your computer and storing on an external hard drive. It’s just as likely as to wear out and break as the CDs themselves. Don’t cling on and hang on to stuff. Liberate yourself.
You’ve heard about the old story of the woman who asked the wise man how to put up with her small house. She was advised to start bringing in one new animal per day, until the house was full. When the house was chock-full she was advised to let them all out, one by one. The sense of liberation and space was overwhelming. Well, the same principle goes for downsizing. If you decide to sell up and move, you will be forced to let go of many possessions. You will have to adjust to the new, smaller space, and difficult decisions will suddenly become easy.
This might not be possible or practical, but for most of us living in urban or suburban areas it would be highly beneficial to the environment, our wallet, our physical and our mental health to ditch the car. Think about it; you spend so much money on gas, insurance, mechanical bills and trading the car in for a newer model that it’s a major investment, second only to your rental or mortgage re-payments. The benefits? Physical exercise, no more worries about road collisions or accidents, theft or vandalism; re-connecting to nature in terms of feeling the wind through your hair, hearing the birds, and taking the time to walk or cycle places. For those weekly grocery trips, a few dollars given to a hard-working taxi driver is money well spent.
The number one cause of poor health and premature death is not what you eat, but how much you eat. A more regulated, natural way of life can be fostered through a ‘growing your own’ approach to eating from your own vegetable patch, limiting your portion size, not having deserts, drinking only home-made beer/wine, buying raw coffee beans in bulk and roasting/grinding/brewing your own coffee. Such things used to be seen as a real chore back in the 1980s where the more electronic tech and artificial short-cuts you could get the better. But those times are no more, and we are starting to realize the numerous benefits of having a more natural, slower way of life. If you have a simple laptop then you don’t need much else in the way of technology. Online tutorials are also a great way of finding out how to live a more minimalistic lifestyle.
Hopefully, you will be able to put into practice much of this advice. Perhaps you could implement one thing per year, and spend the next eight years streamlining your life, shedding all those things that are weighing you down, physically and mentally, things which are preventing you living a smaller yet fuller existence. Minimalism is becoming more of a necessity, anyway. Why not be one of those who are willing to embrace and explore its many advantages, rather than a reluctant and ineffective adherent.