Minimalism is more than just a trend and has been practiced throughout the centuries by all walks of life. Recently, minimalism has seen a resurgence with the young and trendy eliminating the need to have everything and replacing it with the need to have meaningful objects in their lives. Minimalism turns capitalism on its head by instructing people in the art of choosing objects that are useful, either emotionally or practically, and eliminating the need for excess. Here are 5 steps to help introduce minimalism into your life now, so you can stop collecting meaningless stuff and start appreciating what you have.
1) When In Doubt, Throw It Out
Everyone has things in their home that they aren’t using, but are being kept for some reason. The problem with these useless objects is that not only do they take up space, but they make your home look cluttered and untidy. The best thing you can do is evaluate your home, find the objects that you don’t use and get rid of them. If you have lived without it for years and not used it, then why do you still have it? Many people feel ungrateful if they throw things away and while those feelings are valid, they aren’t necessary. Everyone changes and grows as they age, and sometimes an object that was meaningful once isn’t any longer. It is good and healthy to evaluate where you are in your life and to carefully select the things you are keeping.
2) Go Through It All, Piece By Piece
In order to understand how much you have, it is necessary to go through it–piece by piece. Actually holding an object as you evaluate it will help you to understand whether it has any value to you. Don’t skip anything. Touch each object as you evaluate it and decide whether you need it in your home, or whether it’s just clutter. Do you really need fourteen blue shirts? How much of your clothing do you actually wear? If you don’t need it, get rid of it. Often people hold onto objects because they feel like they’re going to need them later, but the reality is that if you haven’t used it in months, you likely never will. Some objects can be donated, so think of the good you can accomplish by letting go of the excess you’ve accumulated. By eliminating clutter from your own life, you will be surprised at how emotionally freeing the experience can be–and how much easier it is to keep things clean when you have less clutter.
3) Eliminate Doubles
Everyone has duplicate items in their homes–you have two can openers, when one will do. Or you keep unopened electronics in case one breaks or you hold onto every pen that comes your way in a messy “junk” drawer, never to be used. What is helpful when minimizing is to get rid of the extra items you are keep around “just in case.” When you go through your home, you will realize that many objects you kept for “one day,” never actually had their day come, but still you kept them. It’s time to let go of the extra and only keep the necessary. Throw out, or donate duplicates that aren’t being used, which will free up space for the essentials.
4) One In, One Out
Another handy tip for an aspiring minimalist is for every object you bring in, you need to eliminate one from your home. This serves a dual purpose as it forces you to consider which object you’d get rid of to make room for your new one, and it also makes you consider whether the object you are buying is actually necessary. If you can’t think of anything you’d get rid of to make room, maybe the object you’re considering isn’t necessary after all. Often, just taking that extra step to consider why you’re buying an object is enough to keep you from getting it at all. So much of consumerism is tied to making people feel good by buying more stuff, but this can make people feel stressed and weighed down when they can’t afford something, or like their lives are being controlled by objects.
5) Keep What Is Meaningful
Minimalism doesn’t mean that you have to give up everything you own, but you need to be thoughtful. If you are holding on to things because they’re sentimental to another person (old clothes from your mom, or a long-forgotten toy from a sibling’s childhood), let them go. Keeping an object because you feel guilty for getting rid of it isn’t a good reason to keep it. The objects you choose to keep in your home should be meaningful to you, not to anyone else. The same goes for gifts. Everyone has a gift they’ve been given that, while nice, isn’t something they want. Be grateful that someone thought of you, but let the object go. If it’s not adding value to your home, it’s adding emotional weight and keeping your home cluttered.
Minimalism means keeping what’s meaningful and useful while eliminating the things that weight you down–either mentally, or the things that physically clutter your home. Being able to let go and focus on what’s truly important can open up an entirely new way of seeing the world, one that isn’t dependent on how many things you own, but whether the things you own add value to your life. Once you start practicing minimalism, you might find that it branches out into all aspects of your life–from your home to your work, to your relationships. And once you free yourself from the weight of too much stuff, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.