Those of you who know me know how fond I am of a minimalistic lifestyle. Yet, slowly but gloriously I continually attempt to reduce the number of personal belongings I still have. And today I decided to write about the reason why I’ve been a minimalist my entire life, how it started, where I am right now, and what are the pros and cons of a minimalistic lifestyle.
I think this will be helpful to many people especially the ones that are at a difficult stage of life and feel that something must change so they can freely leave the hole of struggle and strain.
How I met minimalism and why I’ve chosen to take it as a lifestyle:
Back in November of 2016, Arianna Huffington published an article called, Introducing Thrive Style: The New Power Dressing. The post reflected so much on my upbringing and what I believe in and continue to practice daily through a minimalistic approach of life.
Growing up in a family that didn’t have much of materialistic essence, my parents made sure that the kids in the family always had new clothes, shoes and school supplies once per year at the beginning of every school year, which was in September. I always looked forward to those new pieces of my yearly wardrobe, as I knew that I would be able to mix and match them with what I already had from the year before.
I carry this principle with me today. I have several classy dresses, skirts and pairs of dressy pants, along with a few blazers and blouses. They are all accompanied by a couple of classy pairs of neutral tones pumps and winter boots. I apply the same principle to my casual and sports wardrobe.
I am personally not fond of shopping and never have been. I see shopping as a waste of time, not to mention, even a bigger waste of time having to spend valuable time to dress in a lot of “fluff.” I live by the motto: “buy only what you need, when you need it.” Being a “power minimalist dresser” since my childhood has provided me invaluable hours of sleep, personal and professional growth, time for family and friends, time for travel, time for exercise, and more money.
Let’s dive into some deeper questions here.
Do you find yourself feeling that something in your life is dramatically wrong? Do you feel physically and mentally off, not having time or desire for anything? Do you have many friends, but no one with whom you can share the things that torment you or the problems you are encountered with?
Are your personal obligations pilling? Do you have no desire to communicate fully with your spouse, significant other, friends, and other family members and preserve your relationships with them? Is everything annoying you? Are you constantly nervous and exhausted — beginning to have nervous breakdowns, having breathing problems and not being able to catch your breath when you’re in a room with many people? Are you annoyed by the presence of other people around you?
My question to you would be, “When will you decide that you can no longer live like this?”
And when you decide that is time for a change, what if you take the easiest first step, which begins with the disposal of personal belongings. Many people have a habit of pilling up thousands of things “just in case.” So much that when you open the cupboard you are so surprised what’s inside, because you have forgotten about the existence of half of those things.
When you look around yourself, do you feel that your furniture and belongings will fall on top of you? In such situations do you ever think about grabbing a garbage bag and tossing everything you don’t need? How would you react at such situations? Would you feel as if you let something go that you will significantly miss it or will you feel as if you’ve taken a huge load off your shoulders?
There are many resources on teaching us how to become better organizers in all areas of life, so we are most practical and efficient when managing the environments of our life.
Yet, do you ever question the materialistic world we live in? Is it pulling you down and not making you feel happy and satisfied with life?
Minimalism is not just a way to organize your home or your closet, so as you can be simple and practical. For a person to achieve a balance in his or her life, his or her attitude must be reflected in every aspect of an individual’s life. Besides being freed from unnecessary possessions, wouldn’t it be wise to apply the same “clearing” process to social contacts, work and everything else we are involved with? Not too long ago, I revisited an article, which I wrote several years ago called, “Could You Live A Zero Waste Life?.” The article will provide you with some more food for thought.
What are the pros and cons of minimalism?
Minimalism is certainly not an easy lifestyle. One needs to better reflect on what things are really important to him or her and which ones can one spare. This process takes time and is very difficult emotionally; it could take months, even years.
Minimalism helps us to properly prioritize the important things in life and provides us with sufficient willpower to reflect and focus on them.
Leading such a lifestyle will give you the opportunity to be viewed as a precious mineral —for instance, I’m still using a phone from several years ago, which is still working, although a new version of the phone came out already several times.
What about answering the question — “what kind of gift would you like for your birthday?” and the reply people receive from me — “Nothing — I already have everything I need.” — such responses have caused people’s jaws to drop and to having us laugh because of the astonished looks I have received over the years from others. Looks that you probably can’t imagine, but looks that have been causing people to deeply think about what are the true meaningful things and moments in life.
Minimalism might be a difficult trait for our society to defend, where part of the psychology of people is to keep things for “one day” until “one day” we decide to put that “so needed” piece of clothing on.
We accumulate old strings we’ve been attached to, books, clothes, shoes, by living with them and “embracing” the motto “just in case,” until the time comes for when family members take us out of our homes in coffins.
Minimalism frees up space for us — physically, emotionally, and mentally. Minimalism frees up time — when you don’t have many things to keep up with, and don’t strive to acquire them, you have more time for the most important things in life — family, friends, work, hobbies, accumulation of experiences, learning and growing. Minimalism provides space and balance in all aspects of one’s life — directly and indirectly.
Minimalism is even good for your finances- you’ll be surprised how little money is needed if you have to buy only what you need.
Minimalism makes you disciplined and organized, because there’s nothing to distract you.
Minimalism teaches you to value yourself highly, because it helps you allow only people and belongings of importance to you. People, who enrich your life’s experiences, provide new opportunities, give you love and more time for things that are practical.
There are several questions that I’m often asked:
How can you remain a minimalist in a materialistic world?
We know that is very easy to slip and fall into situations of buying thousands of things because it’s interesting for us to try new things or because we think that we will use it “one day.” This is how people find themselves with 20 pairs of shoes, 10 pairs of pants, 10 dresses, 20 shirts, 15 blouses, 5 body lotions, loads of make up, etc.
When you have some extra time on your hands — do you run to the store to purchase more belongings or do you work on freeing up more space in what you already have?
What if you were to take inventory of what you already have and decide what you absolutely need and what to do with the rest?
Perhaps you will never leave yourself with only one pair of shoes because you like shoes. Yet, this is exactly the point of minimalism. Being surrounded by things that are most of value to you and you mostly use and that make you feel good and happy.
Do you live in a house with two chairs a table?
I live in a normal home. Everything in the house is being used and brings a significant value and satisfaction. I have the bare minimum furniture and items in the kitchen for cooking. I’ve donated a significant amount of furniture pieces over the years, and even until today, I have never regretted donating anything, nor have I felt the materialistic absence of something that is no longer there.
How does minimalism reflect your wardrobe?
Quite well, but little by little I am continuing to minimize it.
My question to you would be — Are you usually rotating a few pieces of clothing, but are too lazy to delve and seek what else is crammed in your closet? Do you keep old clothes from when you were thinner (ladies and gentlemen) thinking that one day you will be able to fit in them, but in fact every time you look at them you feel bad because you can’t fit in them?
Are you keeping more favorite clothes for special occasions but you end up wearing the same piece of outfit that you always have? Do you often buy something because it’s cute, but your favorite ones keep staying in your closet until you can’t fit in them?
What if you were to wear only the clothes you love which are really comfortable for you, appropriate for the occasion you need? Do you think that you’ll even think about the ones that you have donated, which is another fact once again that you didn’t need them.
I stopped purchasing new clothes 4 years ago. If I have had a need of anything, this piece of necessity has been carefully selected based on a need, as well as on its quality.
Why do I share this with?
I share this information with you because I feel that the materialistic world we live never has an end. The poor just want to have food on their table. The middle class wants to become rich. Millionaires want to become billionaires. And billionaires just want power and control and more and more. When does it stop? It stops with us and change begins with us.
Does minimalism solve your “problems?”
Of course not, but it has given me will, concentration and free time to focus on what’s truly important to me, the people I love and the changes I want to create for the world. My life has been more balanced and healthier because of living a minimalist lifestyle.
How would you describe a minimalist?
Me, myself and I — the same individual who has chosen not to focus on materialistic assets, which nowadays appear to be a symbol of happiness and success amongst many.
Are you a minimalist? How did you become a minimalist?
Enjoyed reading? Please share. We are in this world to help one another. All of us grow faster when we support each other. I encourage others to add value to the world, so we can make compounding ripples of improvement for everyone.
About The Author
Dr. Mila is an internationally known Change Catalyst. She teaches individuals and organizations about awareness, connection, and the need for change – personally, socially, and professionally.