I first stumbled upon minimalism a few years ago when I saw “The Minimalists” on Netflix. From that moment on, I was hooked.
I read every blog I could find, especially those from Joshua Becker, The Minimalists, Courtney Carver, and Leo Babauta, among others. I combed the library for books pertaining to minimalism. Read about what I learned from one of them here.
I looked around at the ridiculous amount of things we owned, taking up valued space without providing any actual value. We started working on each room, removing those possessions that really served us no purpose.
I started thinking about consumerism, commercialism, and materialism. All the bad -isms. I thought about the millions of dollars that are spent each year getting people to buy “stuff” and decided I was out. I had a new -ism: Minimalism.
So What Is Minimalism?
There is flexibility in how one interprets minimalism because the purpose of the idea is to bring you happiness. What brings me happiness might be completely different than what brings you happiness.
There is no single, all encompassing definition for minimalism.
One minimalist may purge themself of all of their books, while another keeps 400.
“Well how can a minimalist keep 400 books?”, you may ask.
The answer: Those books provide value to them. Maybe they are often referenced, maybe they bring back fond memories, or maybe they make for a nice look in a room. And that’s okay!!
Minimalism is the purposeful reduction of excess and unwanted aspects of your life so that there is more space and time for the things that matter.
Jane’s Version of Minimalism
Let’s tell the story of a co-worker, we can call her Jane. Jane’s classroom is constantly cluttered. She keeps old tests, old worksheets, Tuesday’s attendance, faculty meeting notes, everything. Papers, papers, papers — there are stacks of them everywhere you look. She has multiple large file cabinets with papers that probably date back to 1997. Her room has become notoriously well known throughout the school.
Sounds like a hoarder, right?
Well, in many ways, Jane is. But, I would also consider her a minimalist.
“Wait, what? How’s that possible? You can’t be a minimalist and a hoarder at the same time!”
Or can you?
While Jane has enough papers and manila folders to light a bonfire you could see from space, she also lives in a modest home, drives an older, reliable car, saves tons of money, dresses simply, refuses to sign up for any social media, and prefers walks and bike rides over trips to the mall.
Jane avoids consumerism, sees value in simplicity, and most importantly, she is happy.
Okay, Now What?
Start by figuring out what is important to you.
I normally ask people this question:
Name the top ten best/most impactful memories you have.
90+% of the responses are memories of events, experiences, and time spent with family members and friends.
Material possessions such as that new car, new phone, or new television provide only temporary happiness. When you figure out what is important to you and what truly makes you happy, then you can start to remove the objects/people/technology that distracts you from your happiness, giving you more time and energy for what matters.
I created this blog as a means to encourage others to move toward a happier, and healthier life. The backbone of the blog revolves around minimalism and money, but I’d like to think that there is more to it than that. While being more financially responsible was great, resetting the priorities in my life is what truly made me happy.
I’ve learned that by living a frugal, intentional, minimalist, organized life, I am as happy as I have ever been.
More clearly than ever, I can see that life is not about what you have, but who you have. It’s about forging stronger bonds with friends and family, doing things with a purpose, and taking care of others. I’m not sure if I could call this the “be happy” blog, but I could call it the “be happier” blog.
What made you interested in minimalism? How did it start for you? I would love to hear in the comment section!