Saturday 21 January 2017

Thoughts on minimalism

There seems to be a pretty big trend at the moment focusing on minimalism - the idea that we should be minimising the contents in our lives to those things that bring us joy and value, and removing everything else.

I first started to delve into this concept a couple of years ago when I read Marie Kondo's well-known book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book really does make you want to get up, empty out the entire contents of your wardrobe, kitchen cupboards, linen cupboards and bookcases and get rid of about 90% of them. Essentially, the author talks about how we should only hold onto those items that spark joy, and anything that doesn't should be removed from our lives. There are definitely aspects of the book that I thought were a little strange (such as considering the feelings of our belongings and thanking them for their service), but on the whole, I think it is a great incentive for decluttering your home.

More recently, I watched a documentary on Netflix by two American men, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, known as The Minimalists. Ryan and Joshua were once in high-paying corporate jobs, but realised that even though they were making a lot of money and owned all the stuff they could ever want, they were not happy. So, they decided to quit their jobs, get rid of all the possessions that weren't adding value to their lives, and started to travel across America telling others about minimalism and their experience. They have since written a few books on this concept of minimalism and have a weekly podcast discussing various aspects of minimalism in today's society.

I think the thing that attracts me to the idea of minimalism the most is the fact that it makes you appreciate the physical items that are of value to you, and as a result, you have more time to appreciate the more important, non-materialistic things in life. It helps you step back from the focus on consumerism that constantly surrounds us in today's society, and gives you the freedom to spend your time not stressing about what to wear in the morning, where you put that book you can't find, or when you will find the time to buy the latest iPhone model that you MUST have (or, rather, that advertising convinces us that we must have).

While some minimalists can fit the entire contents of their lives into one suitcase, others may have a house filled with furniture, clothes, children's toys, kitchen appliances and DVDs that they love and use, but they don't hold onto things that don't bring any value, which I think is the key point. It is also important to realise that it is a process, and it can definitely take a while to work out what items you love and use, and what is just taking up wasted space in our homes. It's been a couple of years since I first started decluttering (starting off with my wardrobe), and I think the fact that we moved interstate a year ago, and are now moving again, has definitely given me the motivation to get rid of anything that I don't want to lug to our next home.

So, does this mean I no longer buy new clothes, shoes, technology or books? Definitely not - but I am much more aware of what I am buying, and I think to myself questions such as:

Do I have something similar to this already?

Is this a good quality item that will last more than just a few months?

Am I just buying this on impulse because I'm having a bad day, am bored, or need a pick-me-up?

Will I get value from this? 

It is definitely still a process for me, and I'm sure it will be for many years to come, but I am definitely realising how much more freedom I have when I'm not attached to physical items and wanting to buy the latest, trendiest, cheapest thing. It has allowed me to focus more on the important, non-materialistic things in life, which ultimately are far more valuable than the cluttered stuff that pervades our lives.


  1. I've been working through my room this Summer and I'm loving the feeling of knowing that I've chosen to keep the things that remain. Not sure how far I'll pursue it but minimalism sure brings a clarity I crave.

    1. I totally agree James. It is pretty addictive - the more I declutter, the more I want to declutter due to the clarity it brings!