February 8, 2013

How I Live: Being a Minimalist (or Minimal-ish)

My favorite thing about reading blogs may be the chance to get insight into the way people live their every day lives. Bloggers are often more comfortable offering their philosophies, ideas, and achievements than people you talk to in person. While I'd love to get all my friends to sit down and share their life tips and suggestions, I'm afraid it would take a good deal of prying on my part to make that happen. So in the meantime, I let bloggers inspire me.

And now, I'm in the mood to share about how I live (whether you asked for it or not) . . .

via Megan Matsuoka on Etsy

I've been very into blogs about minimalism lately, like Becoming Minimalist, The Minimalistas, and others. I'm not so into minimalism in the strictest sense of having only the few items needed to live, but I'm a firm believer in keeping material belongings pared down to a comfortable, manageable amount. In fact, it makes life easier, less stressful, cleaner, and even seems to give you more hours in the day. That may seem like a lot to claim, but it's true for me and many others. Everyone who writes about minimalism shares their own revelations about the good it does in their lives. It's the kind of thing we all want to share because it can have such an impact on your well-being, especially if your home (or your life) feels cluttered and unmanageable.


Here are some rewards I reap from being minimal-ish:

1. My house is usually clean. Now, this doesn't mean I don't have toys strewn across the floor all day, or that my dishes and laundry don't frequently pile up. But it does mean that my house is pretty easy to clean. Even with my two little girls (3 and 1), it's not that hard to bring order back to my home because there's just not that much to pick up. I've also decided to avoid trinkets and lots of accessories in my decor, because I've noticed that they ONLY look attractive in homes that are always spotless (and bright, airy, stylish, usually child-free, and so on). Of course, it becomes tempting when you see pictures of these types of homes all over blogs and in magazines, but it's just not realistic unless your home fits the above criteria.

2. Less time spent cleaning means more time. More time with your family. More time on your hobbies. More time doing what you want. Also, without the clutter around, you can actually focus on your child/book/business, etc. Even breathing seems easier.

3. Buying less = saving money. When you start to view each unnecessary object brought into your house as an added burden, you find yourself not wanting more. It doesn't matter if something is on sale or even if it's free. If you don't truly need it or love it, there's no benefit. I used to take free things more readily because, hey, it was free. I've since been more careful about accepting things.

4. Selling stuff = earning money. Okay, obviously. But really, if you're in a situation where you have a lot of extra stuff going unused, you probably could swap that stuff for something more practical, like cash.

5. Learning to give frees me from material attachment. I've actually been surprised about the way my outlook has changed in this area. I used to hang onto stuff I didn't use much because I liked it and thought I would use it more some time. I suspect most people do. Lately, I've been experimenting with giving things away more freely. I've started to believe that if it doesn't pain me just a little when I go through stuff to give away, then I'm not doing it right. One day, my sister told me she loved the purse I was carrying. Without hesitating, I emptied my stuff out of it and gave it to her, because I simply didn't need it. I had other purses and I felt like she needed it more than I did. I wouldn't have been able to do that a few years ago.

6. I'm content with my life. I know it's human nature, and part of the pursuit of the "American Dream" to always want to move onward and upward, but it actually is a whole lot nicer to just be grateful for what you have. We're a one car family, but having one car is so much easier and cheaper than having two that it's worth the sacrifice for now. I live in a three bedroom condo with no yard or garage, and not a lot of storage, but I'm happy here.  I'm not nearly as impatient in a small space as I would be if my belongings were overflowing and my home felt cluttered. 


There's more I could add to this, but this is what I've experienced the most so far. Just in the past year, I've come to realize the way I feel about "stuff." It's been gradual, but I've come a long way from how I used to be. As a kid, I had a variety of useless collections, trinkets, and decor. My home is almost devoid of that kind of stuff now, and it definitely suits me and my family.

If this post has motivated you at all to look at your environment with a more critical eye, and maybe even give something away, then I'll consider that a success. Don't let your belongings intimidate you. Just take control and send them out the door. I promise you'll be glad!

14 comments:

  1. I was intrigued as soon as I saw the title. Minimalism is definitely something I'm attracted too. I think partly, because I'm really just a very practical person and spending money and time on things I don't need doesn't make sense to me. I could improve in some areas too though. I'll have to check out some of your book/blog suggestions. Great post!

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  2. This was the wrong (or very right) thing for me to read this morning. Ty has been out of town all week, I have been so busy, and my house is A WRECK and I don't want to be in it. I think that for me to have more time doing the things I want to do, I definitely need to take a fresh look at how much stuff I have that I don't need. So overwhelmed right now with clutter!!!

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    1. Oh man, I'm sorry. I'm sure it's 10 times harder when you feel like a single mom. I wasn't trying to make it sound like I've got it all figured out. I honestly just wanted to share my revelation, you know? Good luck, I wish I were with you!

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  3. Great, TRUE post! I love #3. I've found myself talking myself out of purchases because I didn't want the "clutter."

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  4. I've been doing some of this myself, and you inspire me to KEEP GOING with it.
    Great blog.
    I hope you find your brother. :(

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  5. Having a cleaner home and being organized in general are the aspects of minimalism that were the most practical reasons for me right now.

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  6. Savings - I clip coupons and sometimes lose money because they are not well - organized. Recently, I only clipped the coupons that I truly want.

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  7. This is my complete story. I should stop blogging because you said it so well! Seriously, I agree with you and all points.

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  8. Lisa,
    I just happened to find your blog through Joshua's blog. I'm a big fan! and I'm already excited about yours as well since I can relate to this very first post I've read and the 7 rewards (out of so many more) to being a minimalist. I just gave one of my favorites purses to a very good friend and although I wasn't sure at first if I could let that go, the minute I saw her face and how excited she was, brought a whole new meaning to my giving away stuff I don't need. I was not a bit sad about owning one less purse because I just didn't need it... I've been paring down belongings for the past 2 yrs and boy!, I don't know how much more I can give away cause I don't own much anyways, but I definitely don't care about buying more and I'm so content with my life that I can't wait to see where this journey will take me.
    Thank you for your inspiring words!

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  9. I feel exactly the same way. The older I get, the less stuff I want. It's liberating to come to this conclusion. More stuff means more time caring for it, protecting it, moving it around. Our daughter was in religious formation for 3 years, and got rid of everything that did not fit in one suitcase. There is a beauty in living that simply. I've also found, if I have less and accumulate less, I have more to donate to the needy. Great post.

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  10. Wow, I can completely relate to you. I do desire a simple life and then there is another part of me that just keep buying and geting more stuff into the house or closet. I am slowly geting there

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  12. I really, really like your blog! I'm just starting to tip-toe into minimalism
    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2013/06/you-get-to-decide-what-to-worship-i.html)
    and find your site really well written and informative!

    Gretings from Germany and a sunny weekend,

    Bambi

    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/

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  13. Hey Lisa, I just hopped on your blog from your Facebook (since we're friends as of yesterday, I think I have that right, right?) and this popped up in my reader. I love minimalism. My husband is a packrat. It's the difference in how we were raised. My challenge comes from trying to find the right balance. I don't want to keep anything. I don't get attached to things. You can read my thoughts on it if you are interested. Basically, my thought is it is just stuff, and chances are I will acquire lots more of it in the future so no need to get attached to it now. If you could bottle up loyalty and friendship and memories, those bottles would be worth keeping.
    But you wouldn't know it by looking at my daughter's toy room. I am a toy hoarder.

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