Minimalism means different things to different people: like art, it’s subjective and it comes in many different forms. Minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean that one must throw away all their belongings, sell their home and car, and go through life free from technology and machines either; doing so without a shred of clothing on their backs while living in the forest like a modern day Tarzan. That’s not minimalism, although it can be. Minimalism is simply a tool to help people rid themselves of certain belongings or things in their lives which may be causing them some form of stress and anxiety: possessions, technology, their job, a partner or spouse, or maybe it is their home or car.
To me, living minimally means to live with in my means: to not exceed what I can’t afford and to not keep up with the Joneses; which in a world where consumerism is rife, it can be hard to not feel or be influenced by a new gadget, clothing line, or brand that someone else may have. Especially in this day and age, where you don’t even have to watch TV to be brainwashed into purchasing something you probably don’t need – now there’s the Internet and social media where you have normal people being paid or sent certain things to influence others (their followers) to go out and purchase the product they’re promoting. I was once one of those people too (never paid) I received things in return for my honest opinion which I would have to declare on my Instagram page to my followers. Now when I get emails offering me something to review, instead of accepting the product to use it once and hoard it, I politely decline their offer, because if I don’t need it then why should I accept and promote it to others?
Minimalism to me, like many other minimalists, is to also lead a clutter-free lifestyle, both mentally and to my physical surroundings: If it has no purpose, no sentimental value, and it doesn’t bring you happiness, then do you really need it? I have been practising this way of living probably for as long as I have been vegan – seven months – and it came after suffering a year-long bout of horrendous depression: with my dark and tainted mindset, I no longer cared much about anything and in turn I was able to put aside a lot of feelings of attachment and rid myself of some much needed clutter – DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs, Books, Photos, Clothes, Furniture. Thinking back now I do have a few regrets and I wish I had been in a better mindset then, so I wouldn’t have been so hasty in throwing away old memories – old school photos of my prom and items I was gifted – although, I’m sure I’ll get over it – it’s not like any of those people have been there for me since. But also, if I hadn’t had been so reckless, I would have still been holding on to stuff that I didn’t need. Even today, when the depression and anxiety creeps up on me, I find myself absentminded – like last time – sorting and throwing things out, it was as natural then as it is today. So it’s obviously something, that in the back of my mind, I knew would make me happier.
Much to my surprise, sorting and sifting through all of my belongings, while donating most of it to charity, made me feel a whole lot better and it gave me a sense of relief. It’s a difficult feeling to explain, but it was as if I had been carrying this weight around on my body without realising, then all of a sudden I felt lighter and I could breathe again. Not only did I gain a sense of happiness from eliminating worthless items from my life, but I also achieved space in each room, which in turn made it easier to keep cupboards, shelves, and floors tidier: that made me feel happy because I could keep things tidy; then combined with my diet, my anxiety became more controllable again.
Thankfully, I’m now a lot more sane and a lot wiser than I was back then, plus I understand myself a lot better than I ever have and I’ve come to realise that purchasing and spending money on things that I ‘think’ I need and want, is just me trying to fill a void inside myself, because in reality I am deeply unhappy and lonely. It’s a weird concept when you think about it: spending money on material things in order to bring us ‘happiness’; when actually, we’re just frivolously spending money and probably putting ourselves in unnecessary debt instead.
So, if you’re finding yourself in a bit of a rut this new year; unsure of where to put all of the new toys, books, and cooking equipment that you or your child may have received last Christmas. Then take a look around you and see what you really need: throw or donate anything that is broken, missing pieces, or has become too small and no longer fits you or your kids – and start decluttering. I promise you, you will feel so much better after it’s done. And next time you are tempted by a pair of new shoes, a new house gadget, or a new piece of technology; ask yourself these questions – Do I really need it? How much use will I get from it? Will it make me happy? And then make your decision based on your answers.
For me, I plan to continue my declutter throughout 2017 and also cut back drastically on my food and crockery bill while also spending less time on social media and in front of the TV. I plan to start experiencing more slow and quiet moments, and maybe even finish that book I started three years ago – To Kill A Mockingbird – I may also take up yoga and meditation to bring some more, much needed calmness to my life. There’s also a few more things that I need to do and ones which are necessary so that I can find my own independence in this world, but for right now I need to find peace within myself and accept my life for what it is – a bloody disaster, but with a few less material things.
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© The Hungry Welsh Girl 2017
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