Minimalism: a style or technique that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity
This word tends to scare people, especially in terms of letting go of their things.
Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have been paring down our life. Kind of unknowingly, or maybe we knew it all along but on a deeper level of self. Over time certain realizations became very clear to us - Having more stuff did not make us happy! It created clutter, not only around the house but mentally. Have you ever heard that when your house is cluttered your mind tends to be the same?
"Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury - to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind."
- Albert Einstein
Our life is not built upon what we own but what we can do for one another. What you own, inevitably owns you. As we went through our house deciding what we were going to let go of, the thought that stuck in my mind was do I find these things to be useful, meaningful, do they bring joy to our life? If I could honestly answer no, then out it went. Letting go of unnecessary things truly gives you more freedom. The more you have the more you have to keep clean. I noticed that when I would go into my child's room I was constantly stepping over and on toys, 80% of which he did not play with. Even when his room was "organized" there just didn't seem to be enough room for his things. There really is only a handful of items that he plays with on an almost daily basis. I know that those toys are what he loves and brings him joy.
We live in what is considered a small home by American standards. It is roughly 1,200 sq. ft. about the size of a large apartment. Having only 2 bedrooms made things a bit difficult to have the space for all of our stuff. I would tell myself that we needed a bigger house, we needed more space. With a new baby on the way, we definitely needed more space.... or so I thought. When you use your imagination, and a little ingenuity wonderful things can transpire. Necessity is the mother of all invention.
I will be honest, I love to shop resale and find a good bargain, who doesn't? But I noticed that the items I was buying eventually went into a garage sale pile or a bag headed for the Goodwill. What was the point of shopping for stuff when I would inevitably give it up in some way. This did not make much sense to me nor our pocketbook. It would probably amaze some of you to find out just how much money you are spending on stuff that you will never use, takes up valuable space, and does not bring joy to your life.
We made a conscious decision to take ourselves out of the rat race of thinking we needed more stuff to make us happy. I no longer desire to shop, it doesn't have the same appeal now that my eyes have been open. Our household rule is that if we truly need something then we will make a smart and budget friendly purchase. If the item can be bought secondhand, even better for our budget. I know people that are, sadly, drowning emotionally and don't even realize it, buying more and more thinking it will fill the longing inside. On average most of the American people spend more time maintaining all their stuff that they neglect the most important things in their life. Family.
Family is what makes up a home, not things. Let go and live.