Minimalism

LESS IS THE NEW MORE

minimalism less is more
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

What is minimalism?

To me, minimalism is the idea of detaching from material things, not being owned by bills or debts, having freedom, and being more productive in our daily lives. It’s about letting go of things we don’t really need, and people or situations that give us stress.

The use of minimalism is a great way to help you succeed and reach your goals. By eliminating certain kinds of distractions, you can start focusing on what really matters to you and live a meaningful life.

So how can we start minimizing?

household

I have lived on my own since I was 19, moving from place to place, from one country to another, sometimes sharing a flat or a bedroom. And through this, I have learned this:

The less stuff you own, the easier it is to make big changes. Click To Tweet

When I moved to the Netherlands, I only owned two pairs of shoes, (one for cold weather and one for hot weather), a few articles of clothing, and two books. Everything fit into a suitcase. I felt so light and so free. I wasn’t attached to anything. I had never really been attached to material things anyway.

Nowadays I live in a small apartment with my boyfriend and we are immensely happy. We have a rule though. We do not have (and we don’t want) decorations in our house that say home, welcome, or love. Instead, we make our house feel like home, we make people feel welcome, and we give love. We do not buy things we don’t need. We keep it simple and try to spend money wisely. We have what every basic house has – a bed, a couch, a desk, a dining table, and that is how we want to keep it. We don’t want to clutter our space.

Sure, we have a few decorations, like paintings from the places we have traveled to together, flowers, a collection of mugs, and my own artwork. But we’ve chosen these things intentionally. When we are traveling, if something feels bulky or too heavy, we leave it on the road or give it away.

CLOTHING

Applying minimalism when it comes to clothes can be a daunting task. The fact is, most of the time we use a third of the things we keep in our closet. Has it ever happened to you that you are ready to start your day, you want to have a productive morning, but when you open your closet doors you find yourself lost wondering what you should wear that day? You go from trying the black skirt with the peach blouse to the denim jacket with the old-fashioned jeans, and this goes on from one outfit to another. Before you know it, twenty minutes will have passed and you still won’t even have had breakfast yet. Plus, you will then probably notice that you are not even feeling confident in what you are now wearing.

What has helped me a lot is to instantly get rid of any piece of clothing that doesn’t feel good when wearing it. Perhaps you got a certain piece because it was on sale, or maybe it was given to you on your last birthday. When you stick to your true taste and only keep clothes you are in love with, it will not only save you time in the morning, but it will make you feel confident that any piece you take from your closet will make you look fabulous.

That being said, you don’t need to throw all your ugly pieces away. What is not pretty in your eyes might be beautiful in someone else’s eyes. Donate them or give them away. Or, if you think all the clothes from your closet are valuable pieces, then try to combine them in a different way so you prevent yourself from buying new pieces and cluttering your wardrobe. Before buying something, ask yourself if you really need that piece. And remember to only buy clothes you are in love with and feel fantastic in. This same applies to shoes.

INFORMATION

Clutter isn’t just in our closets, basements, or living rooms. In this new media age, information is one of the most overwhelming forms of clutter we deal with on a daily basis – a bunch of newsletters in our email, videos you “have to watch”, social media feeds, and more. We get distracted from our goals and sometimes we abandon our dreams because we decide we don’t have time to work on them. We give priority to the project of others over our personal ones.

It’s ok to get informed. It’s ok to watch a funny video, but don’t let the media fill all your precious time. Make time for friends, family, and your own projects. In the end, what we read, who we follow, and what we watch is our choice. But ask yourself, is it helpful? Does it make me feel happy/relaxed/great?

PAPER

I used to collect cooking magazines from the supermarket because I thought these would inspire me to cook a new recipe one day. But the truth is, they piled up and I never really read them. Now, if I really want to cook a recipe from a magazine, I cut it out and put it in a folder.  By getting rid of a bunch of magazines I have more space on my desk now.

Same with notes – every time I used to have an idea, I would write it on a different post-it which would get lost over time. When it was time to do creative work, I was lost in a world of color papers. But when I started keeping all of my ideas in a single notebook, my mind was clear.

Throw away old receipts and give away books you will never read or you are not interested in reading anymore. Get rid of the obsolete travel guides. You can find pretty much any information on the internet. Of course if it has sentimental value, it’s part of a collection, or your work depends on that, you should definitely keep it. But learn to distinguish between a true collection and just pure hoarding.

We like to accumulate things thinking “we will use them one day”, but the truth is that they are just accumulating dust and occupying space. Click To Tweet

PICTURES

Nowadays people take pictures of everything. They photograph the same thing 100 times. The bad news is that when we take too many pictures, we forget about living in the present moment. We are more focused on the picture than the actual place where we are. This is a bad habit. Unless you have a photo shoot and you need to select the best pictures for a catalogue or wedding, you don’t need to photograph everything.

If you are traveling, only take a picture of special moments, things that inspire you. Make use of your senses. Look at the colors, smell the flowers, feel the air touching your face, taste new flavors. Be present. Facebook and Instagram can wait. You can Instagram your adventure when you get to your hotel room or even the next day. Besides, if you take fewer pictures, it will be a more enjoyable experience when you actually go through your holiday albums. You’ll only have the most inspiring shots, and not a bunch of nonsense pictures.

PEOPLE

There will be people who want to keep your attention and steal your energy without them even noticing. By cutting off shallow or needy relationships, your life becomes less stressful. Moreover, when you detach from people, you learn to be more independent and you teach others not to depend on you either.

Prioritize the people you want to have contact with. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be a better version of yourself or share the same values.  Also, decide the amount of contact you want to have with family and friends. It does not make you a bad person if you shut down your phone for a day or if you disconnect for a few days. It is your life, your time. Go make something beautiful.

In conclusion, I am not here to tell you to get rid of all your stuff. If it has a special meaning, makes you happy, or adds value to your life, then you should definitely make a special place for it in your house (or in your heart). The core message of this post is to make you aware that sometimes less is more and you can reclaim your time (and money) by minimizing every aspect of your life.

 

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Author: Jessica Araus

My name is Jessica. I’m a writer, English teacher, and entrepreneur living in the Netherlands. I write stories based on my life experiences and I also create colorful illustrations that entertain and inspire many. It’s my hope that this blog serves you as a simple reminder of the power you have to choose, create, and live a life that you love.

12 Replies to “Minimalism

  1. Hi Jessica! I like your article. Too many people these days live for the material things in life and it may be cool for a moment but it just doesn’t bring any actual fulfillment at the end of the day. Thanks for the great read, and for keeping it real!

  2. Great tips. We’ve lived in our house for 31 years, and over the years… well, it’s been crazy! I really truly realized how little I needed when I walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, and lived from my backpack for 2 months, and truly – didn’t miss much at all.
    When I came back, I realized that not wanting to keep so much around, I needed to share and give away many of my things. It’s still a work in progress, but I feel better each and every time! Thanks for sharing your tips!

    1. Wow, traveling through Spain sounds like an adventure! Being on the road gives us that feeling of freedom. I am so happy to hear you are working on getting your house back to calm! It takes time but every time will be easier. Good luck and success!

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