Today I want to tell you about a huge change that I’m making in my life. This change was inspired by a documentary I watched on Netflix called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. The film tells the stories of Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists. The two share their journeys towards a more simple life, free from the excess of today’s consumer culture. They share their philosophy for getting rid of extra “stuff” and making room for the things in life that really matter. Doesn’t that sound freeing?
If you’ve heard of minimalism before, you may be skeptical of how it applies to your life. You might be imagining a young hipster sitting in his tiny apartment with nothing in it – how trendy! But the truth is that minimalism looks different on everyone and is more than just getting rid of all your stuff. Joshua and Ryan call it, “a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” Sign me up!
Why Minimalism Is So Important
In today’s society, we are so caught up in status symbols like having a big house and a nice car. We are surrounded by media that portrays the successful as being rich, beautiful and owning an endless amount of stuff. Advertising is so purposefully designed to convince us that we are missing something and that we need to buy in order to make up for it. Like that our hair is not shiny enough, so we need to buy double intensive hair serum. Or that our running shoes are too common, so we need to buy the flashy Nikes to be able to perform like the pros. And don’t forget that our outdated iPhones don’t have the stereo speakers we crave, so we’re going to need to buy the new iPhone 7…
We feel unsettled by consumer culture, but we are trapped. Every holiday is cloaked in this shadow that tells us to buy and buy in order to show our loved ones that we care. If we don’t buy the Valentine’s flowers or the Christmas gift sets or the Easter chocolates, how else will our loved ones feel validated? Because this stuff will make them feel good, right? Because they need the stuff and we do, too.
But deep down we know that stuff doesn’t make us happy. In the long run, new stuff becomes old stuff that has faded in value so quickly that we no longer feel any joy from it. Piles and piles of stuff lurk in our drawers, in our closets and in our garages. For many of us, these things haunt us, seeping into our lives and adding to the stress of our long work weeks and insufficient paycheques. Does it have to be this way?
How Can Getting Rid Of Stuff Make Us Happy?
Well, people like Joshua and Ryan are realizing that we don’t need stuff to be happy. In fact, we actually need less stuff. We need to let go of the “extra” and allow space for the things that really do add value to our lives. Things like our health, relationships, hobbies and interests.
But how do we do it? We adopt a simpler lifestyle. We get rid of the things we don’t use. We free our homes from the clutter that we’ve collected and gradually revise our mindsets. Happiness moves in when we stop attributing so much value to our possessions and instead focus on what really does bring us joy. We are left with renewed energy and light that we can then direct towards our passions. Sounds good, right? But it isn’t easy!
Why Minimalism Is A Challenge For Me
While I strongly dislike the consumer culture, I am no where near immune to it. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to shop. I’ve never been into designer brands so I don’t buy expensive shoes or purses. But I can shop anywhere. I mean it. Take me into a hardware store and I will find the delightful lawn ornaments and porch lights (I don’t have a yard or a porch). Take me into a grocery store and I will find the kitchenware section with the cute mugs and pretty dishes.
I love knick knacks and trinkets and have such a collection that I don’t have room in my apartment to display them. My absolute favourite activity to do with friends is wander through the mall. I equally love to online shop – all these nice things are ready to be shipped to my door with the click of a button? Yes, please.
I’m not exactly a hoarder, but I have a lot of stuff. And yet I don’t feel satisfied. All this stuff doesn’t make me feel fulfilled or as if I’ve achieved anything. I buy a new sweater and a few days later it has become an “old sweater” that no longer shines when I look at. I’m now left with a hole in my wallet and a feeling of dissatisfaction. So I buy a new sweater. The cycle continues and the mountain of debt grows until finally I ask myself, why am I doing this? And who’s winning here? Because it doesn’t feel like I am.
So…What’s The First Step?
If you’re truly serious about letting go of the excess and creating space in your life, you’ll need an action plan! If you’re not sure where to start, an easy first step is to look around the web and see what other people are doing. You’ll find that a minimalist lifestyle looks different on everyone and you’ll have to discover what’s right for you. I recommend starting with The Minimalists – they’ve got a ton of cool essays and podcasts to get you thinking. Then you can grab a pen and paper and come up with your own action plan.
Want to see what my action plan looks like? Check out the exact strategy that I’m using to simplify my life and get rid of excess junk.
It turns out this minimalism thing doesn’t happen overnight. So I’ll be decluttering my life day by day and documenting my progress as I go. I’m beyond excited to get rid of stuff and stop buying things I don’t need. Commit to change your life and live simply – join me!