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MINIMALISM

WHAT IS MINIMALISM?

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Minimalism is the art of letting go of things that interfere with how we wish to spend our time.

Letting go of those things that do not add value to our lives can allow us to create the space and time we need in order to lead  simpler, more meaningful lives.

THE ACCUMULATION OF
MATERIAL THINGS

When we are young, we may start out having a pretty good idea of how we want to spend our time, such as pursuing a career or raising a family or building a business. We start collecting material things as soon as we start accumulating money and before we know it, we have accumulated more material wealth than we have the space for. We may need a larger home or a more demanding job just to maintain it all.

We have developed hobbies, bought toys for our children and, let’s face it, toys for ourselves. We hold on to things we may need later, broken things we may fix later, and so on through the years. This continuing accumulation of material wealth can go on for 40 years or more and result in a wearisome overabundance of seemingly endless clutter!  

WHEN WE ARE OLDER

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When we are in our 60s and 70s, we may want to (or have to) downsize for whatever reason. We look back on all those ‘things’ we have collected and the panic of what to do with all of them sets in! What to keep, what to donate, what to give to children or other relatives or friends, what to throw away. Minimalism may be the answer to freeing ourselves from the exhaustion and stress of taking care of all those 'things.'

There is an actual cost to the accumulation of things, according to Henry David Thoreau who wrote, The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. As soon as you embrace minimalism, you will find the ‘cost’ of what you have accumulated is very much overpriced.

PRACTICING THE ART OF MINIMALISM CAN LEAD TO FINDING THE REAL MEANING OF LIFE!

Beginning the practice of the art of minimalism is a daunting task and it is not for the weak hearted! But once begun, it is a process that gets easier as time goes on.

Time is the reason why minimalism works. Time to develop closer relationships with family, time to renew old friendships, and time to develop new relationships. Time to spend doing activities or whatever makes us happy. That is the real meaning of life.

ARE YOU READY TO LET GO?

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If letting go and living minimally appeals to you, we have a few suggestions for how to begin and they are listed below.

Minimalism is a process, and depending on where you are in your life, it could take a long while to accomplish. After all, it may have taken 40 or more years to accumulate the clutter of material things, so getting rid of all that clutter cannot be accomplished in a few days or maybe even a few years.

Keep in mind though, our lives will never have zero clutter or complications because we are human and part of the real world, living with the other people in it. But when we focus on what really matters to us, we can learn to let go of what does not. If you own too much stuff, your life will be owned by your stuff. If you keep more than you need, you will be giving less to others in need.

Beware! If you think you are okay because you are able to organize all your possessions, you may really be practicing 'successful hoarding' and simply pushing away the day when you may need, or be forced, to pare down your belongings.

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THE BENEFITS OF MINIMALISM

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  1. More space and time. Each time you add more things to your life, you are subtracting the space and time you need to focus on what matters most to you.
  2. You will become more efficient at getting things done.
  3. Letting go can mean you are willing to change and let go of what you have been used to. This can mean not only physical things but old ideas, bad habits, and even toxic relationships.
  4. When you de-clutter your personal space, it can lead to a not so cluttered mental space.
  5. More time will also allow the meaningful de-cluttering of your calendar and your phone, reducing the stress of unnecessary distractions.
  6. Less things means freer, lighter traveling, and moving, if and when necessary, will be so much easier.

WHERE TO START

START BY GETTING RID OF EXCESS

Start with items you have 2 or more of

There may, of course, be exceptions, but it is not necessary to keep a second toaster around in case the first one breaks. Nor is it necessary to have to store 6 different kinds of spatulas, 2 or more sets of measuring cups and spoons, more than 1 set of different wine glasses (unless giving parties is how you want to spend your time).

Clothes

Donate or consign any clothes you and/or your children have not worn for the last year or two. Just think how you can free yourself from doing excessive laundry!

Childrens' Toys

These are always accepted for donations, especially at Christmas time. It is a proven fact a child's imagination and sense of calm is benefited by having not more, but fewer, toys. The more toys a child has, the less intense will be their play.

With less toys, children can figure out what they truly like and want. And never underestimate the value of downtime for children to let their minds focus when they are bored. They can become calmer, more content, focused, and happier.

Too much stuff, too many activities, and over stimulation can cause stress for children. Simplifying your child's world may result in an increase in his or her creative ability.

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Items you may have collected so you will have them should you need them.

If you have items you have not used at all in the last year, this is one of the best ways to get started with the unloading. You will have to determine whether to sell, donate, or throw these things away and you may be amazed at the amount you have accumulated.

By thinking about the concrete (when I last used something), rather than the hypothetical (whether I might someday want to use it again), it could become easier to recognize when it is time to let something go.

To help de-clutter your closets, if you have seasonal items, consider storing out-of-season items in bins or plastic storage totes, perhaps under the bed.

Try to simplify your daily routines.

Does it take too many creams, types of makeup, boxes of lipsticks, etc. to get ready in the morning? Make sure that everything you keep will add value to your day. Letting go of old routines and habits and building new ones can be very challenging. Try first by letting go of something you are used to for 30 days and observe how it affects your life.

Get rid of anything that has expired.

These might include items in the medicine cabinet such as cosmetics and toiletries and the pantry, fridge, and freezer as well.

Set up an area in your home with 3 boxes (donate, sell, throw) and empty them regularly until you are done purging.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

For every item you touch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this item useful and does it serve the end purpose of freeing up my time?
  • Could this item be useful to someone else?
  • The hard question is, who will be willing to take on the responsibility of this when I am no longer here.
  • Do not keep anything that does not add value to your life. It is possible you made a mistake when you acquired an item. It you acknowledge it was a mistake, you can get rid of it. It not, keeping it will always remind you that you made a mistake. Go ahead and make mistakes, but laugh about them and learn from them and then go on with your life.
  • Practice the old adage, 'It is better to give than to receive.' Minimalism is a step toward finding the real joy in giving. Donate useful items to your community and help those in need.

GOOD LUCK!

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Reward yourself! Revel in your success! Relieve yourself from unnecessary stress and pressure and learn to live a freer, less cluttered, more simple life.

Here is wishing you much good luck, peace, and joy.


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