To Be or Not to Be…a Minimalist

So, have you heard of this thing, err trend?, called minimalism? Well, I had heard of it in the past and first thing that always came to mind was some weird person in a studio apartment with nothing but a toaster, a few articles of clothes and maybe a bicycle. I was so wrong. Like, literally, so wrong. I bought the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It’s a New York Times best seller and there is a reason why; this book really is magic. Well, I should say Marie Kondo is magic in her ways of organization and decluttering and does an excellent job of writing in detail how to follow her program so that we all can lead a happier life filled with joy and purpose. The basic concept is this: get rid of the items in your home that do not bring joy. If it brings you joy, it can stay. It’s an awesome concept and for me, was the stepping stone into this minimalistic concept of life I am currently trying to transition my family into. I did the bulk of this for my own things while my husband was gone for training because it was just easier that way, and it made the time go by faster. I did just as Marie said, I gathered up my things category by category and held each piece in my hand and asked myself if it sparked joy in my life. If you haven’t read the book or you just don’t quite understand this concept (yet) I swear to you I am not a lunatic just sitting in the middle of my living room floor holding my sweaters one by one waiting to feel some spark of joy or dislike. But, in reality this is exactly what I did.

I’ve always considered myself to be a bit of a collector, to put it gently. I would let things sit and sit for years without even so much as glancing in its direction, but for some reason I was unable to let it go. What if I needed that particular item one day? What if the person who gave it to me noticed and it hurt their feelings I no longer had said item? What if it suddenly became worth a large sum of money and I can strike it rich by selling it on eBay for insane amounts of cash? (Hey, I can dream right?) The truth is, I was trying to hold onto things to make myself happy… or maybe just appear happy. Plus, I didn’t want to disappoint or upset the person who gave me the item — and I cared way too much about their opinion instead of my own. What I didn’t know or understand, was just how much all that stuff was making me unhappy. Honestly, who can be happy opening their closet to see 4 pairs of beautiful designer jeans that no longer fit because you’ve gained some weight over the years? Not me! But, I kept those jeans hanging in my closet for “someday” when I would lose the weight.  Dumb, dumb, dumb. So, out they went. Out went the ugly sweater I kept for no reason at all, the underwear with holes, the belt I hadn’t worn in years, the shoes that were completely impractical for my current life. It felt amazing.

This new space I had freed up in our apartment was incredible. It was like life had been breathed back into the belongings I kept and I could see them in a new light. I was happier with less. What a concept, right? I mean, isn’t the American Dream to have a life bigger and better than the guy standing next to you? The more things you can buy and the more money you spend… thats happiness, right? What I learned while throwing out my things was just what a load of crap that was. Why do we need all of these things we don’t even use or have a use for? It’s silly. I am done trying to fill voids in my life with objects and I am on a mission of happiness, simplicity, riding the depression and anxiety from my life and the lives of my family. I want to enjoy the time we spend together and not always worry about having the newest, latest, or fanciest stuff. As The Minimalists say in their documentary “love people and use things, not the other way around”. [If you have not watched this documentary and a life of happiness and simplicity sounds appealing to you, please walk — no run — to your nearest device that streams Netflix and watch it. You will not be sorry]

My goal for my family this year is to downsize the things we do not use, the things that do not bring us joy, the things that just take up space and replace the desire to spend money to create happiness with memories that are filled with happiness. It’s going to be interesting I think, especially for our son who is in that phase of “I want this, I want that, please, please, please” [insert eye roll] but I am hopeful that at the end of this process he will learn to be thankful for what he does have and hopefully start to understand that happiness does not come from a store, it does not have a pretty bow wrapped around it, and it does not have to be purchased. Happiness is inside all of us, it is created when we come together as friends and family. Its time to invest in my loved ones and in myself instead of investing in belongings.

Are you with me?




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