Some of the best conversations I have ever had have been with strangers and acquaintances. Just the other day, I stopped and chatted with a gentleman about my biggest goal for this year, because he asked me “what do you plan to accomplish in 2017?”
I told him I wanted to live with less. Less things, less junk, less clothes – less stuff.
I can’t claim to have come up with this idea on my own. Just a couple of weeks before, I watched “Minimalism” on Netflix, and it inspired me to make my year about “living with less”.
To my surprise he said “I’ve been a minimalist for twenty years. In my home I only have a futon, a coffee table, and a barbecue. My coworkers came over once and said I live like a serial killer” he joked.
I was fascinated. I mean, what are the chances that he would ask me only to have decades of experience in this cool new value system I was trying to embrace? If the coals were burning hot after I watched Minimalism, he threw the wood on that fire. I had to pick his brain.
Our conversation made me realize two very important things.
Firstly, minimalism is a lifestyle, and therefore spans across all aspects of life: school, work, home- even fitness. “I’ve got my workouts down to a 45 minute science” he said. “I want to be able to get the most done in the shortest amount of time. It’s about value.”
Secondly, he encouraged me to realize that minimalism is applicable to relationships too. It’s not about having the most friends, it’s about having the best quality friends.
We hear it all the time: “quality over quantity” when it comes to friends- yet I know for me I have spent a lot of time constantly searching for more instead of working on the great friendships I already have.
2. Contrary to the mantra I first committed with, minimalism is not about “living with less”. It’s actually about making room for more. Doing the shortest, most efficient amount of work to allow for more play. Smallest circle of quality friends to allow for more meaningful interactions. Spending less money on clothes and gadgets to have more money for experiencing life and travelling.
This small conversation gave me a clearer sense about what it means to be a minimalist. Many people I have brought it up with believe that minimalism is about scaling down and getting rid of everything. But it’s not. It’s about only having things that truly bring value to your life. If you can’t use it or you don’t love it, it’s got to go.
I know there are particular aspects that I need to work on.
Letting go of my material possessions. I get emotionally attached to things, often, but interestingly enough these things don’t bring me any happiness or joy. Clothes would be the biggest material item I have struggled with. I just have too much of it! And I’m ready to make peace with it. I only need and want to keep the pieces I truly love wearing. Then I’ll have a closet containing only the best, and make more time because I’ll be doing way less laundry!
Letting go of people who aren’t positive influences, to make room for the people who love and support me. This was a huge realization for me. I’ve spent a long time looking for something I already have, which is that love and support. Now I’m focusing my energies on where I know it will be. This means less time trying to force friendships with people who aren’t interested, and more time spent with those who are already close to me.
I don’t need to bend over backwards working to finance decorating every inch of my home. I want to spend less money trying to make the home perfect inch by inch and focus on small pieces that bring me joy in the spaces I tend to be in the most.
I finally feel free of this pressure I feel from society to constantly be accumulating. I’ve been at it for years, it never made me happy, and only left me with the feeling that I was constantly chasing something just barely out of my reach.
That empty feeling I was often left with after an emotionally driven week of shopping asking myself: will it ever be enough?
Now when people ask me what minimalism is about I do not explain anything about living with less, but I focus the conversation on making room for more.
And I’m so excited for this year to unfold.
If you guys are interested I highly recommend the documentary Minimalism. There are many books out there too if that is your preferred method of discovering.
I thank you all for reading this post. Your support on every step of the journey is so valuable to me.
Until next time!