Minimalism has taught me so many amazing and freeing lessons. These are ten things I have learned since I began seeking a life that is not overflowing.
- I realized that I purchased items that I thought held the promise of the lifestyle I wanted. When I wanted to make a commitment to my health I would purchase a new set of workout clothes so I would want to exercise. I would purchase a new workout program while the last one I bought collected dust on the shelf. I would purchase a new, beautiful journal to write in when I wanted to mark a big life change that I was planning to make. The journal had empty pages that were full of possibilities and opportunities for my new outlook on life. But these items do not hold the keys to success. They are merely tools that can help me get there and without the right attitude and mindset they are under utilized or completely abandoned all together.
- I would hold onto items “just in case.” I would keep books that I had all ready read but saved them just in case I wanted to read them again. Or in case a friend mentioned the book and I would be able to loan it out. The silliest example of this for me was that I wanted to keep a cupcake carrier even though I don’t make cupcakes. I wanted to hang on to this cupcake carrier because I would need it to take cupcakes to school for my daughter’s birthday someday. This would at least be 4 years away and a friend that is a teacher kindly told me that her school doesn’t even allow that anymore.
- I would keep items only because I associated the item with a memory. Sentimental items are definitely difficult for me to declutter. But how many items can truly be special to you? I had to learn the truth that you can still cherish a memory without the item. When I worked at Riley Hospital a patient gave me a wooden car he had painted. His gesture of kindness during a time when he wasn’t feeling well meant so much to me. But the car sat in a box. That was under my bed. Or stored in a closet. It wasn’t the car itself that meant something to me. It was his thoughtfulness, his generosity. I ended up taking a picture of the car with my phone and got rid of the actual item. I can still treasure the memory without the item.
- I kept items out of guilt. This basically explained more than half of my clothing and accessories. I had spent hard-earned money on them so I was going to keep them. But even though I kept them I didn’t want to actually wear them. I also saw this when I looked at the items I had in my kitchen. A number of the items we registered for our wedding remained unused, but I held onto them because other people spent their hard-earned money on them. I felt bad that I had made such poor choices so I thought letting the items collect dust made more sense than getting rid of them. Minimalism instead encourages to get rid of both the unused items and the guilt. Both made an impact on me, but getting rid of the guilt was so freeing!
- I learned that even getting rid of items that are hidden away in drawers made a difference in the feel of the room. This really surprised me because I assumed if I couldn’t see it then it didn’t really have any effect on me. What I noticed was even if I decluttered items that were hidden from sight, when I walked into the room it felt more spacious, more inviting, and lighter. I don’t know if this is all just a mental thing or what but it happened time and time again.
- I realized I could make money by selling our unwanted items. I decided that I was going to try and sell our things on Ebay, apps like Letgo and Offerup, and Facebook marketplace. It became a fun hobby for me and I really enjoyed posting the items and making my sales. We ended up making over $2,000 in sales on items that we would have just gotten rid of. Most of the items we sold were in the $10-$20 price range. Doing this did take time and effort. So if you are wanting to declutter and thinking about selling your items, I encourage you to think about if you are okay with it taking time to get rid of your things or if you just want them gone. Also, please remember that if you are meeting someone to sell something that your safety is more important than any sale!
- Minimalism has helped me identify what is actually important to me. I would see beautiful pictures of houses on Pintrest or watch the end results of Fixer Upper and think that I too needed and deserved a home that looked like that. I would place my hope and satisfaction in attaining things that the world encourages me to go after. What I have realized is that a kitchen with granite counter tops, pristine cabinets, and matching stainless steel appliances would not have added anything of value to my life these past five years of my marriage. Please know if you have these things that it is completely okay! It was my discontentment, envy, and the fact that I felt entitled to these things that was the issue.
- Decluttering has helped me to evaluate the purchases that I currently make. I am less inclined to mindlessly shop because I question whether I will just be decluttering the item in a few months. I take time to think about my purchases now. When I want something I take a few days or more to think about if I actually need the item. I can’t tell you how many times I have desperately wanted an item and three days later realized that my life is completely fine without it. I am also able to appreciate an item for its beauty without actually owning it. A great example of this for me is Hobby Lobby. I love so much of their home decor, but I have no need of any more decorations at this time in my life. I am able to think to myself that something is beautiful and then walk away from it, not spending a dime.
- I have become aware of how often I am advertised to. Have you hopped on Facebook only to see that shirt you almost bought online? Or received an email that says “The spring items you can’t live without!” We are advertised to now more than ever and it is their job to attract customers and make sales. I have to take the responsibility to see these advertisements and say “Nope, I’m paying off debt.” Or “I certainly can live without these items because I didn’t even know they existed until now.”
- I have become amazed by the fact that I strive and strive to purchase all of these material items and yet I neglect to take care of my body that I was given for FREE. I have seen this happen in my life so many times. One time was last year when I knew I needed to go to therapy for my PPD but didn’t want pay for it. But I would pay for dresses, trips, and going out to eat. It makes no sense. Our health is invaluable and yet it is often pushed aside to attain the newest fad or latest gadget.
Do any of these lessons I learned really resonate with you? If you have any lessons you have learned about yourself and your stuff please feel free to share so other readers can learn from you as well!