Maya and I are making a big change in the next few weeks. We’re changing countries, finishing school, and starting anew. We’re going to have to make new friends, find new ways of pursuing our hobbies and passions, and basically start over again. Thinking about this move as a fresh start, we decided to review how we’ve been living, and see what we could improve. A big decision we made was to fix the amount of stuff that we have.
Now, we can’t claim that our home is completely minimalist, but we have definitely removed the clutter and excess. It seems that the more space you have, the more stuff you accumulate. Lately, we’ve been very careful not to buy meaningless things to fill our space. Instead, we’ve trimmed down. We decided that when we moved, we would be much more minimalistic. It seemed like a perfect opportunity, given how far we are going to move, since we won’t be able to just store our things, and the more we get rid of, the less our move will cost.
The amount of excess in our basement amazed me. The number of books, old clothes, gadgets, furniture and knick-knacks that just sit down there collecting dust for years is incredible. But, the excess was not limited to our basement. It had managed to permeate our entire house. We began purging our stuff weeks ago, and now we have very little extra, though there are still a few more donation boxes to fill, and a few last things to sell.
Though we have only begun walking a path toward minimalism, it has already changed our lives. I have learned a few things since starting this process, which I’m happy to share with you. These are just some of the benefits of trying to become more minimalistic.
I learned how great it feels to have less. It’s freeing. I almost felt lighter. My mind felt clearer. Focusing in the rooms of our house is easier. Our home has a more calming effect. Often we just look at a room now, and it lifts our spirits. It’s as if the extra room has given us more air to breathe. The focus of our lives is now on ourselves, instead of the stuff that fills it.
Cleaning Is Easy
Our house is much easier to clean. I can’t even describe the difference and do it justice. What used to be such a difficult task has become quite simple. There’s no clutter on the floor to get in the way of sweeping or vacuuming. Dusting is easy, especially since we have far fewer furniture pieces. There aren’t little things to pick up everywhere, or rearrange, or dust.
Selling old furniture and other things that you own can bring in a little extra cash. Just try to resist the temptation to use that cash to buy more things. Instead, either save the money or spend it on experiences for you and your family. Let it create more happy moments in your life.
Donating your excess clothes to help others is a great feeling. It’s uplifting to know that someone will get use out of the things that you haven’t used it years.
We found that once our house was clear of most of our things, we were better able to focus on what’s important. Happiness, after all, is about increasing the number of positive moments in our lives, not the number of things. Now, if you look around, the focus is on the people in the space. The focus in our home is about the people in it, and the relationships.
Reward Through Struggle
Minimizing the stuff you have isn’t easy – at first. Purging our stuff was difficult, because we had been so used to accumulating stuff and not throwing it out or donating it. There are always thoughts like, “What if I need that… later on?” Then, I pause, and remember that I haven’t needed it in 3+ years, and so I push past this gut reaction and purge. It wasn’t easy to start with, but after a while the decisions became much easier.
Each time we managed to get past that hump, and rid ourselves of a burden, we reaped the benefits I already mentioned. I felt that I needed a reminder that struggle is often followed by something good, and that I shouldn’t give up because something seems difficult. Through struggle, came the reward.
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Though we have managed to purge so much, my hope is to never resume the trend of accumulation. No doubt it will continue to be a struggle, until “not buying” becomes a habit. I believe the benefits are worth it.
I am interested in hearing your own stories of becoming more minimalistic. How did you benefit? Was the experience positive? What advice would you give us in our journey?