What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word minimalist?
Perhaps, you envision an exceptionally polished persona, living within a sleek abode, surrounded by white surfaces with no clutter in sight. Maybe you consider this word to be negative. It springs up thoughts of a barren home, with only a toothbrush and pair of socks to your name.
For me, as I embraced minimalism for the first time at the beginning of 2020, I realised that it is far more broad than this. Anyone can be a minimalist. It doesn't have to be extreme. It can be whatever you want it to be. The basic premise is to free yourself from useless clutter that does not spark joy. If your home is only full of items that have meaning, you are on the right path.
As I've continued this journey, I've noticed that minimalism spans further than just my possessions. I've watched its tendrils gradually modify almost every aspect of my life. It is a lifestyle, a mindset, rather than just an organisational tool as I first thought. Today, I thought I would share some areas of my life that minimalism has completely transformed without me even noticing. I was clearly too distracted folding my socks...
Minimalism can do wonders for your bank account. My buying habits have changed significantly. You can read about what I've stopped buying in a previous blog here. This is not too surprising. Once you've spent an enormous amount of time and effort decluttering, the last thing you want is to fill you home up all over again.
However, avoiding accumulating stuff can be easier said that done. Advertisements are out to get us. In this digital age, we are all bombarded with adverts constantly describing 'must-have' items. I would be lying if I said they didn't have any impact on me. I can still get sucked in. But, somewhere along the way, the veil has been lifted and I see these adverts for what they really are. Garish manipulation with sneaky tactics to make consumers feel they 'need' items that, in reality, they just want and can likely live without. This freedom from adverts has meant that I have now managed to consistently put money into my savings. I'm excited about building a future and reaching my goals quicker than I could have imagined. It makes turning down that waffle maker worth it...
More time and richer experiences
I have more time. This was something I didn't really expect but have gladly welcomed. It turns out that the management of possessions takes a LOT of time. Constant shopping and decision making can be draining. Then you need to maintain these item that you bring into your home. Tidying and cleaning have become almost effortless to me now. There is less stuff to move around, put away, search for or clean. I know preciously where all my possessions are. An incredibly satisfying feeling.
I have used this extra time to curate hobbies that truly fulfil me. This is how this blog started after all! I also explore my creativity through hobbies such as painting and sewing. I have time to read again. I was such a bookworm as I child but have somehow lost this along the way. Now, there is nothing I like more than snuggling on a sofa to explore new worlds and ideas. It is so enriching.
My work has changed radically since I've adopted this minimal mindset. I am able to I sort through the mental clutter and focus on what is really important, without getting side-tracked by endless emails. Working with wildlife can be unpredictable (learn more about what I do here). That, and my post having 5 different funders, means that I sometimes feel like I am being pulled in all directions. I have honed my skills at recognising what would be 'nice to do' and what is truly essential. This is reflected in my streamlined to-do list. I now do few tasks, but I do them better. I am in control and excel at my job.
A grateful and peaceful mind
The decluttering process is magic. The sense of freedom is instantaneous. The more I've let go of, the more free I've felt. I am able to live intentionally in a home that really feels my own. I have more gratitude for what I do have. In a throwaway culture, where seemingly anything can be bought, we tend to value items less. I try hard to care for my carefully curated possessions, patiently maintaining them, knowing that they bring me joy. Although I value my my remaining material objects more, I ensure that they remain my possessions, rather than them possessing me.
In the world that we now live in, the value of relationships and experiences are no longer taken for granted. When we are stripped of the simple pleasures of receiving a hug from a loved one, or even sharing coffee and chatter with a friend, we realise how lucky we really were. I would give up all of my material items to have my 2020 over again, filled with my loved ones smiles in real life, rather than over a screen.
I am grateful that I am now able to value what is really important. I know I will life a richer life for it. Minimalism has gifted me this freedom that I will treasure always.