The term minimalism has been thrown around the internet a lot. But why? Why does everyone suddenly want to de-clutter and have tidy spaces. Why are Instagram and Pinterest filled with the most beautiful pictures of homes? And why do people look at these picture envying the people living in the spaces depicted?
The movement seems to come from the notion that people who have less can be perfectly happy and that therefore it is not stuff, that makes happy. I think in fact it is our relationship and our approach to things that can contribute to our happiness. And this is exactly the point that makes minimalism a top for this blog, where I constantly stress the importance of a positive mindset. A positive approach to life, to the universe and… to everything, really. So let’s explore how minimalism can help finding the right approach to our possessions.
Everyone who has jumped into minimalism will have come across Marie Kondo’s “The Life changing Magic of tidying up”. It is basically a book on how to de-clutter and finding everything you keep a new home. And this thought I found so very inspiring. She talks about possessions almost as if they were conscious beings. If she discards something she thanks the item for its services. And I find that this gratitude is very helpful. Not only in discarding things but also in our everyday approach to items. But in order to be able to be grateful for something we need to not value our possessions in the first place and this is where minimalism strikes.
What items do we need? Marie Kondo’s hero-question is: “Does this spark joy?” And sure, there are things that do not in particular spark joy, but thinking about it, those items do make our lives a lot easier. For me the first thing that would come to mind are tissues. But usually “Does it spark joy?” Will help to discard many things, that we keep because we feel obliged to and yet, we never use them and we feel guilty about that and as time goes by we feel more and more guilt and we start trying to avoid those things.
But it is not only the things that make us feel bad about ourselves, that we need to let go. The things that we do not care about as well. If we have a shirt that we love and one that we feel “Meh” about, we will always reach for the one we love. So letting go is the right choice. Why though? Why let things go that we don’t care whether or not we have them? Because the more things we love we have around us, the more we can appreciate what we own. And the more things that are Meh and surround us, the more we feel Meh.
We do not need things that make us feel Meh. Because Meh is just another word for “kinda empty” and the latter is definitely an issue when it comes to dealing with tension and self-harm. That we do not need things that make us feel bad is obvious.
But what if I do not need 9 white T-Shirts, but I love every one of the ones I own? Do I have to toss them if I want to be a minimalist? Certainly not. It is not about having only a few things. It is about having only the things we really want to have. And this will contribute to our happiness. Minimalism should never be a source of guilt. Never. If we like pens and like to have hundreds of them in pretty containers and display them somewhere. Sure. We should do that. But we should always have a designated home for anything we own. Because that is the first step to expressing gratitude and if we cannot find a home for the item, how much do we really love it? We shall never just stuff things away, because chances are that we don’t need those things.
This way we will be happier with less possessions. Not because we value having only a few things. But because we value the things that we own. Because eliminating the things we do not like will give us the mental space to appreciate what we own. We can have a completely positive mindset towards our possessions, because we love everything we own. Everything brings us joy. And thinking about it… even if we discard half of what we own we still will be surrounded by so many things. So many things we love. And this means, we can go through life more positive. Which is exactly what we want.
The concept of having less and valuing it more can be applied to anything. It can be applied to every action. It is about being mindful. Doing one thing and giving it purpose rather than doing a hundred things but not caring for one of them. And not only will we be happier as an individual but also as a social being. Because if we meet a friend that’s all we do. Meet a friend. If we work we are more productive, because we are not doing five things at the same time. It will take pace and stress and pressure out of our daily lives and therefore leave us happier.
And again with caring for the few things we do more than for the hundreds of things we can be more grateful. With the few things we own we can be grateful for every single one of them. And eventually this fills us with peace. Having a few meaningful things in our lives, rather than just having stuff around us, that we don’t know what to think about.