Minimalism isn’t living within a sterile environment. Minimalism isn’t a closet with five shirts, two pair of jeans, and one pair of boots. Minimalism isn’t only buying used.
But minimalism is a practice of evaluating what you have, discovering what has value and purpose, and removing the things that don’t. Minimalim is a mindset to keep you focused on your time and space and experiences that matter far more than any item ever could. Minimalism is the definition you give to it as it relates to owning less and living more.
To some this means selling their homes and traveling the world in an RV, and to others it means donating the boxes you’ve been storing for years and refraining from bringing in more things that don’t have a function in your daily life.
To me, minimalism means cutting out what isn’t necessary and reducing the number of items I own. This includes limiting purchases to quality items that I genuinely need and thinking critically about whether something that is commonplace is actually something that I need or want. And sometimes the answer is yes, but a lot of times, it’s no. I decided we didn’t need extravagant seasonal decorations or several pairs of bed sheets that would usually sit on a shelf when not being used or a whole block of knives when 2-3 sizes will due. Earlier this year, I donated a carload (like SUV size) of clothing that I had saved for years. The dresses were shorter than I would wear now, but I had spent good money on them, so I had trouble letting them go. Until I did. And I’ve never thought of them again.
We become attached to our possessions for one (or more) reasons. Here are a few reasons you might be met with resistance:
1. They’re still in good shape. Yes, it’s in good condition, but that doesn’t mean you will use it, especially if you haven’t in over 1 year. Don’t let the guilt of a purchase follow you around. It will only continue to pile on more guilt as you neglect to use it. You don’t need to make space for it anymore- let it go.
2. You had such great memories associated with it. I am not devoid of sentimental feelings. In fact, I’m extremely sentimental. Who else saves corsages from high school dances and movie ticket stubs from ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. P.S the movie Dick (about Watergate) was kind of okay, but I don’t need to be reminded by a 20 year old square of cardstock. Save the important stuff if you want, some of it. Put it in a special box along with a few other treasured momentos. But you can’t save them all. Write about them, take a picture of them, but ultimately decide which ones hold value. And let go of the rest.
3. You (or someone) might need it someday. Chances are you won’t and they won’t. What is the value you place on it? Is it more valuable than your stress, time, and living space? If it were to be ruined in a flood or a disaster, would you be distraught or would you buy a new one? There are treasures worth passing down or saving for a future generation. And there’s the whole, “they don’t make them like this nowadays” argument, but most things you are saving for this reason are being saved out of the false security it brings you. I’m not suggesting you cycle through things for the sake of buying new. What I’m suggesting is that you make a decision on whether you will actually ever need all of your favorite VHS tapes into the future. I love Split Inifinity and Barbie Workout, but I can’t think of a time when these will be in my imaginary VCR.
4. Having two (or multiple) of an item means you always have a back up. When we got married, we accumulated 12+ wooden spoons. Some were different sizes and some had slots and others were square at the top. But overall, just a lot of wooden spoons. I struggled when Aric suggested we had “too many” – they had been gifts or had been my grandma’s, I couldn’t get rid of any. We had never used 12 spoons at one time, but surely it might happen. It didn’t. We now have 8 wooden spoons. It’s still a lot. But we do use 1-2 in preparing nearly every meal. And there are things I choose to have a moderate amount of, like 1 or 2. Or none.
We keep things because we think we need them, society tells us we need them, or we feel such immense guilt that we better just keep it forever to appease our guilty conscience.
Though I can let go of clothing and “keepsakes” (heavy on the quotes here), gadgets and trendy purchases… I draw the line at our New Kids on the Block lunchbox. That thing was a collectors item and my mom knows it. And we’ll never let her forget it.
But honestly, her giving it away will always be more memorable than ever keeping it to begin with. And that’s what matters more.