Why less is more.
Since quitting my job and taking a step back, I have been discovering one common theme in multiple aspects of my life: what is truly important to me. By adopting a more minimalist mindset, I find I am fully able to appreciate the things in my life. Here is how I started.
I am a consumer. Believe me, I can stimulate the economy like it is a challenge. I love having everything I could possibly need around me. I love having a closet full of clothes to choose from, and I love knowing I have a backup of my favorite moisturizer in my bathroom should I need it. After time, however, I started to feel guilty about my purchases. I was constantly surrounded by things that I had spent money on but wasn’t necessarily using. I mean, what a waste, all of these beautiful things around me just collecting dust! I decided that I needed to extend my hunt for passion further than just career-wise. I needed to become passionate about the stuff around me, and I needed some inspiration.
After hearing some good reviews of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I decided to give it a read. If you don’t know what the book is all about, I would suggest checking out my latest post first, where I review the book in its entirety. I loved Kondo’s philosophy of filling your house with items that bring joy and discarding the excess. With this mentality in mind, I followed Kondo’s suggestion and began my tidying with a huge purge. To sum up my experience in three words: I felt liberated.
Kondo’s book introduced me to a new philosophy – something completely foreign to me – minimalism. To me, minimalism isn’t so much a lifestyle as it is a mentality. Here is a definition that resonates with my perception of minimalism: the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.
My idea or practice of minimalism might differ from others’, but it is what works for me at this time in my life. Although I am a minimalism newbie, I have learned a ton in the two months that I have been downsizing my life.
Here is what I now know:
- Less really is more. Kondo suggested starting the purge with clothing. She asks you to examine each item and donate the ones that aren’t in good condition, aren’t age appropriate, or aren’t getting any love . So this is what I did. In total, I donated about five bags of clothing and it felt so freeing. My closet is now filled only with items that I enjoy wearing. I will admit though, it was a little shocking to see how little closet space my tee shirts now took up. I predicted that I maybe had 30 shirts (which sounds like a lot more than it looks hanging!), but when I counted I found that I had exactly 50! Seeing that this included a wide variety of tops, from tanks to long sleeves to work-appropriate shirts, I felt that 50 shirts was a good number for me. Since reducing my clothing selection, I find it relatively faster to get ready and don’t feel guilty for skipping over the pink shirt to wear the blue shirt yet again. To sum this one up, I would rather have five shirts that I love, than 10 shirts that I like.
- Make room for the important things. Once you have completed your purge, you should find that you have much more free space than you previously imagined. I have a friend who’s personal goal is to limit the amount of horizontal surfaces in his house, as he believes it encourages clutter. For my friend, this free space in his room translates to free space for his mind to wander and create. What a great though, huh?! I would love to open my house, and mind, by scrapping half of the horizontal surfaces in my room, but my cat would miss having things to climb. For me, purging frees up valuable real-estate for other things that brings joy. Maybe you will finally have a place to store a piano keyboard (no more excuses not to learn), a place to display Grandma’s China, or just an empty shelf, waiting to be filled with future interests or experiences. When you ditch the things that are inconsequential, you make room for the things that are important.
- Moving house will be easier. This is a pretty self-explanatory learning. The less you have, the less you will have to pack, move, and unpack! As someone who has moved three times in the last two years, and will be moving again this year, I am pretty excited for this!
- Know the item’s purpose. The biggest tip I took to heart from Kondo’s book is that you have to understand the item’s role in your life as you evaluate whether to keep it. Did you buy it because it was on sale, but you don’t really like it? Did you buy it on someone’s recommendation, but it doesn’t really work for you? Was it given to you as a gift? Maybe the purpose of the item, Kondo argues, is for you to realize that it doesn’t belong in your life. Maybe the item’s purpose in your life is for you to pass it along to someone else. As someone who hoarded samples for years, seemingly always waiting for a day when I would need a travel-sized sea-salt hairspray at the beach, this was a revaluation.Why did I let myself feel so much pressure to use something up? Why was I wasting time feeling guilty for not being tan enough to use this Chanel foundation packet that is probably now expired? Why did it take me so long to realize, “Hey, this product doesn’t really work for me. Why don’t I pass it along?” It all seems to basic now, but this mentality really helped combat buyer’s remorse. Why be reminded that I wasted money on a product that just doesn’t work as well for me as another? With this new mindset, I started purging my perfumes, setting aside an scents that I don’t readily reach for. I no longer get the stare down from my Burberry Weekend perfume when I reach for my Jo Malone Orange Blossom instead. And what’s better, now my mom has a new perfume that she loves! #byefelicia
- The people around you will try it too. After completing my own purge, I craved more of that natural high and wanted to start tidying my parents’ house. Kondo greatly cautioned against organizing other’s belongings, and stressed instead that with time the people around you pick up on your energy and purge as well. I found this to be extremely true. Both of my parents joined in on the tidying. While cleaning out my childhood memorabilia, my dad snuck a full trash bag of his clothes in my donation pile. And my mom, my most proud influence, filled an entire car load of clothing, purses, jewelry, and artwork to donate! Way to go, mom! Even my Aunt Nancy, who reads this blog (Hi!), texted me a picture of all of the things that no longer bring her joy. It felt great to know that in some small way I was positively influencing the people around me.
Maybe this post will inspire you to start the new year off with a new mentality, to whatever degree works best for your life. If an attempt at a big purge falls short (you just can’t seem to part with anything), then try this simple technique: turn all of your clothing hanger the same way (have them hook in the shape of a ?). Once you wear an item of clothing, turn the hanger the other way. After a three-month period, donate all of the clothing that is still hung the initial ‘?’ way. This technique is a good way to see what you actually are and are not wearing.
If nothing else, I hope that by tidying, you as well learn the joy it feels to be surrounded only by things that make you happy. You can start small, and remember: happiness can be found in the smallest of places, even if just in the back of your closet.
Will you adopt a more minimalist mentality? Let me know below.