For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you’ll know how my messy home environment was turned round by reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Following the rule of only keeping what brought me joy has made it so easy to keep the house clean and tidy. However, I feel I’m entering a new phase, namely a minimalist lifestyle.
The transformation from being tidy to entering into minimalism has been due to decluttering the environment of my mind as well as my home environment. I still ask ‘does this bring me joy?’ when I’m tidying and it does the job well, but lately I feel like no matter where I look it still seems messy. In reality, my home environment isn’t so bad. It’s more that I have come to realise what brings me joy are very few good quality essentials rather than collection of items.
In my quest to cut down my already dwindling number of possessions, I decided to look at what I deemed absolute essentials in my life. I was surprised that the list was so short. The only things I managed to list were: house, food and drink, and clothes. I love my house and through it I have warmth and shelter. I buy nourishing food and have clean water to drink. My clothes are increasingly whittled down to only those I really like or that are functionally sound (nothing like a good raincoat in the UK!). Yet somehow, to me, my home still feels rather cluttered and this is down to the next categorisation of items – the things I want.
I should change that word want to wanted. In spite of owning pretty much nothing when comparing myself to my peers, I still feel a sense of burden having unnecessary possessions. With possessions also comes a form of responsibility. You have to look after the items you own and it also means more hours spent cleaning and tidying that could otherwise be spent doing something preferable. I greatly value my time and owning less gives me back the hours I’d usually spend tidying.
This past weekend I threw away two 30 litre bin liners worth of items and donated another bin liner of clothes and shoes. For someone who already appeared to own hardly anything, that seems a lot of items. The space under my bed had been occupied with paperwork, books and musical instruments. I was literally sleeping on a mountain of stuff. Since the tidy up, I now only have my guitar left under the bed and my healing bowl which I like to strike before bedtime and feel its vibrations fill the room. It feels a relief – like there is clarity in my mind just by having a cleaner physical environment.
The items I have left beyond the necessities are things people made for me. I find it hard to throw anything someone spent time and care creating for me. That, and a bag of childhood stuffed toys.
I still want to do one last purge of my wardrobe within the next few weeks. Somehow the idea of living out of a suitcase (bar the furniture and kitchen utensils) seems a perfectly good way to live even when you’re not travelling. Why possess items you don’t remember owning most of the time? It just doesn’t seem to make sense. I’d even gone so far as to write a list of what I owned with a rule that if it was not on the page, I should seriously consider discarding or donating the item.
A good exercise for thinking about what possessions are essential to you, is to imagine you have to literally pack your life into a suitcase. If you could only own one suitcase of items, what would you pack? This forces you to think critically about what you value and those items that matter most to you.
With a minimalist lifestyle comes a sense of liberation. Everything stays tidy, everything is useful and everything brings joy so long as you invest in quality pieces that you really enjoy. Best of all, having a clearer environment makes for a more peaceful and happier mind.