More On Minimalism

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.
You must participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.
Elizabeth Gilbert

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To follow up on this post from a few weeks ago about our journey into minimalism and how it’s changed my life, I wanted to write a bit more about the subject.

Most people would think we had to simplify based solely on the fact that we didn’t have a house anymore, but that’s not true. The truth is, my in-laws offered us their giant basement to put things in, and we could have stuffed that to the brim, but we chose not to. When I finally said I’m all in, I meant it. I didn’t want my stuff in storage, because I didn’t want to feel like my “old” life was there waiting for me to come pick it up where I left off. Cause, no thanks, not going back to that.

I’ve said this several times before, but if you asked me or Jer, we’d totally say we were fairly minimalistic before we started on this journey. Only after we started to clean out our house in preparation to sell did we really see how much stuff we actually had. The average American household has 300,000 (THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND!!!!) items in it, and despite what we thought about ourselves, I don’t think we were too far removed from that number.

Now, I don’t think minimalism means that you need to get rid of 95% of your possessions, or own only 100 items, or your house has to be void of any personalization, or you can’t buy anything. I just think it means that you live with intention, and you only surround yourself with things that bring value to your life. If something doesn’t hold value for you, there’s no reason it should be in your life. Our brains are cluttered, our attention spans are goldfish-like, and we’re constantly caught up in this idea that having more stuff means we’re more valuable as a person. A person is valuable simply by existing, not by accumulating things.

Even now, I am constantly giving away/donating/throwing away items from our suitcases. When I was in Italy with my friend Melissa, we were shopping together and there were several times where I’m sure she got frustrated with me because we’d find the cutest things, but I couldn’t commit to actually purchasing. I knew I had to be ok with carrying that item in my small suitcase for at least the next 8 months, or I would have to get rid of it. And most likely I’d have to get rid of something else from my suitcase to make the new item fit in the first place.

I’m super over the top enthusiastic about minimalism, but I definitely still struggle with it sometimes. Hands down the most difficult items for both of us are the sentimental ones. Jeremy has a box of trophies, I have some items from my grandmother, and we have an entire box full cool souveniers that we’ve picked up in various places.

However, I am learning that sentimentality is often found in the memory associated with an item, instead of the actual item itself. Meaning, if I can take a photo of an item, and look at that photo to conjure up the same memory, then I can get rid of that item that takes up unnecessary space and isn’t doing anything for me.

Like I said, it’s not always easy and I’m definitely not perfect at it, but my best advice would be to identify your individual dream life. What does it consist of? Where do you live? What are you doing? What does your day look like? Who are you with? How do you spend your time? Mine won’t look like yours and yours won’t look like mine. It’s YOURS, that’s the key factor.

Once you pinpoint your dream life, think about the exact things you need to accomplish to make that life a reality. Then work your ass off to make those things happen. Just the knowledge and subsequent pursuit of the goal can greatly increase your happiness, so just imagine how phenomenal you’d feel once that dream life is finally yours. There are always roadblocks, we had tons, but if you’re open minded, creative, and determined, you’ll find that you can eliminate those roadblocks and move forward with your life in the way you truly want to.

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If you’re interested, here are some resources I find really inspiring on this journey:

BOOKS
Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
10% Happier by Dan Harris
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

BLOGS
The Minimalists (start here)
Exile Lifestyle (start here)
Zen Habits (start here)
Becoming Minimalist (start here)

OTHER
The Pomodoro Technique (start here)
Mindfulness Meditation (start here)
TLB Podcast: Chris Eagleton (found here)

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