Finding Minimalism

According to “The Minimalists”, a blog written by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

From a young age I had a fascination with “stuff”. Growing up I would always attend auctions, even working them as I got older which exposed me to the true nature of consumer America. When I was younger, I would run up and down the aisles of clutter waiting to be sold. When the occasional “beautiful” object would catch my eye, I’d need to have it and add it to my ever growing collection of “stuff”.

As I grew older, I began to see the negative impact of consumer society fed to us by marketers. In a way, the experience of working auctions and being around them my whole life has allowed me to see that material possessions don’t add to our lives. This managed to convince me that things really aren’t that important.

During my first year of college, tragedy struck my family as my grandmother unexpectedly passed. Always at my grandparents’ house, I grew up around the same objects and material items they had collected over the years, even their garage stockroom which my grandmother would replenish after “case-lot-sales”. Even when they had moved several years earlier, one of their main objectives was to find a home with “enough space”. The same holds true for my own household. I have only recently come to realize that attempting to find “space” for all of our “stuff” weighs down our physical, mental and emotional health.

Following the passing of my grandmother, I returned back to my college dorm and took a long, hard look. Many of the things I had brought were unnecessary. Clothes I would never wear remained in several large storage containers. Decorations and accessories, which added no true value to my life, were purchased simply because I was led to believe that I needed them by our consumer society.

After completing my first year of college, I spent some time living with my grandfather. Perhaps it was through the spirit of the Midwest and the personality of my grandfather that I found joy in simple living. Since most of my belongings remained at my permanent residence, I was able to detach myself from those objects. Returning home after about a year thereafter, I began sorting my belongings, just sorting. I would organize things into piles or drawers, never truly giving anything up.

Towards the beginning of this last semester, I began to research a concept I had come to know as minimalism. It looked enticing - clean walls, clutter-free surfaces and useful objects. Would an average person be able to achieve the aesthetic appeal minimalism is portrayed to have?

Coming back home for winter break, I went crazy. Over break, I managed to reduce my personal belongings by over 75%. This included clothing, unused toiletries, craft supplies and, the most numerable of all, home décor. I managed to declutter over three large moving boxes of “stuff” to donate.  

Do I regret getting rid of anything? To tell you the truth, I don’t remember a single thing I got rid of. The ability to reclaim my space has cleared my mind of mental clutter and has enabled me to see how much time, experiences and relationships should be valued over material possessions.

One way to embrace minimalism is to ask for experiences, trips or time with those you love and those who add value to your life. For my birthday, I asked my mother if we could take a trip this summer to a place we haven’t been before, instead of receiving a physical gift. Small things like this allow for memories to be made, rather than receiving an object you will most likely rarely use.

Minimalism is whatever you make it. It’s an ongoing journey, and I’m still on the road to accomplishing my personal goals. By finding minimalism, I have been able to embrace simple living and, most importantly, begun to live a more intentional life.

This way of living has done many things for The Minimalists. “Minimalism has helped us to eliminate our discontent, reclaim our time, live in the moment, pursue our passions, discover our missions, experience real freedom, create more, consume less, focus on our health, grow as individuals, contribute beyond ourselves, rid ourselves of excess stuff, [and] discover purpose in our lives.”