Episode 3 of the energy series
Consumption is high up there on the list of mental energy burners and so another topic in some of my energy workshops: from the time spent on the physical act of buying tangible products to the mental brain usage of looking after all of your stuff! Have you ever considered an overhaul? Do you need all of the things? Does it really ALL spark joy? Do you fancy the challenge of change? Introducing minimalism:
a lifestyle involving a reduction or simplification of one’s material possessions that frees one to lead an existence that is more intentional, purposeful, spiritual etc (from dictionary.com)
A life less cluttered
Think about that definition for a moment. Imagine a life without so much stuff. Does simplifying sound appealing? The art of only having what you need and using what you have. Everything that you own requires looking after, replacing, cleaning, putting away. Having less reduces brain load, induces calm and allows us to focus more. Having cupboards bursting full of stuff is just not good for us. Decluttering reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Add to that the control element that we feel when we are tidying and organising and you are starting to see that the mental health benefits are huge.
Getting rid of excess stuff can benefit your mental health by making you feel calmer, happier, and more in control. A tidier space can make for a more relaxed mind Webmd.com
So let's take it in two parts - firstly reducing what we already have and then preventing the new purchases from coming in.
Reducing what you already own
I embarked upon my minimalist journey with a challenge hosted by two people at the forefront of the minimalist world - Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. They have two brilliant documentaries on Netflix which I highly recommend viewing. Their challenge in the link below is to reduce your possessions for 30 days starting at 1 and each day increasing that total by 1. 1 on day 1, 2 on day 2 etc. for 30 days being 465 by day 30. Yes it gets harder towards the end! I started delving into kitchen utensils towards day 15 and the sock drawer when it got really tricky at the end!
Here is a link to the challenge - https://www.theminimalists.com/game/ .
Wardrobe overhaul. The decluttering of my wardrobe unearthed some real gems I had forgotten about and gave me some precious minutes back in my mornings! I had items in my wardrobe that I would see everyday but will never wear, wasting energy as my eyes would glide across the hangers, hiding what I was actually looking for. We often keep things because of some sense of guilt at a wasted purchase, possible nostalgia at the one time an item was worn, or society imposing the notion that you need lots of choice so lots of stuff to have to choose from. I took a really hard look at every item and if it didn't speak to me, out it went. It was liberating!
Children (their things not the actual children - food for thought) I have memory boxes for the children but am very particular now about what goes in them: select items not every single masterpiece throughout the years! And I keep the younger children's wardrobes minimalist too.
The kitchen who needs two garlic crushers and 4 corkscrews? Yes I do need two rolling pins as the synchronised pizza dough rolling is a frequent occurrence in our house but the other duplicates were tossed.
Books I have to admit here is where I struggle. I love buying books but in a minimalistic effort I have subscribed to Audible - another change I would recommend . You can't read when dog walking and doing house jobs but you can listen. So yes the book purchasing has reduced and I have definitely minimised my existing book collection. Unless it was my definition of a literary gem out it went.
Sentimental the loss of loved ones often comes with the inheritance of tangible memory keepsakes. For me I went through a bunch of items from parents and grandparents and just kept a very few items. I am aware this is a personal decision and different for everyone. I found attaching memories to physical items was quite draining. I love photographic memories but the decision to keep anything else was made with purpose and I felt so much better for it.
The things you own end up owning you. Tyler Durden, Fight Club
Stopping new spend
It's not as hard as you would think! And what better time to start then when the cost of living is getting higher by the minute. In 2022 I completed my first minimalist challenge with flying colours: a year of no spend on myself and I succeeded! Apart from the purchase of a tri suit for a race I chickened out of (a reflection for another time) and lots of educational books (which were allowed in my challenge), I haven't bought anything directly for myself all year! It has been cleansing and it turns out the art of no spend is as addictive as spending!
The same outfit: re-wearing the same outfit for outings. I didn't enjoy the event any less and actually if you choose an outfit carefully and love wearing it, why wouldn't you wear it multiple times?
Parking items: I parked items in the virtual "basket" to come back to and honestly that initial "need" that was so very strong at the time of clicking had subsided and I found I didn't need the item any more. Sometimes our brains tell us we need a retail hit. Something may have triggered you subliminally- an advert, social media, a fleeting image as you are out and about. Why not pause it for a few days. We all know how influential the buying process is now so it helps to put steps in place just to check in with ourselves to make sure we really do want the thing. As companies like Amazon break down the barriers in the buying chain - (the genius of the one click buying button) , we need to put steps in place at our end to delay it.
Food: I consider my food shops much more now so suffer much less food waste. I felt so guilty about the amount of wasted food but I just plan more now and buy less.
Borrow For the first time ever I consciously borrowed the odd item that I knew would only be used once. I would never have considered this before.
So after sharing all my minimalist efforts I must be clear at this point: Minimalism is different for different people but the outcome is the same.
Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life. By Joshua and Ryan
So at a time of inescapable increased financial pressure I know that I can live quite happily without new possessions. Not spending just doesn't impact my joy of life one bit and not thinking about buying has freed up so much time and energy! Now that my challenge is complete I will spend again. This was an experiment. But when I do it will be mindful spending. For me the buzz received from shopping is always so short lived.
Three thought provoking quotes from Joshua and Ryan's website:
Craving an outcome anchors you to a future that does not exist
The path to misery is cobbled with addition
We cannot consume our way out of discontent
A minimalist new year
The new year is the absolute perfect time to try out this concept. - the opportunity to clear out and only let in what you choose. So do you want to join me?
Set your own rules such as
Park items in the basket for 24 hours
Ask yourself do I really need this
Give yourself a weekly spend limit.
Repurpose or borrow
Minimalizing the emotional drain
I couldn't close the article without mentioning the intangible element of minimalism. For me this will be the year of minimising my emotional drain, of being boundaried in my connections and actions to free up time for all the important things and people I don't give enough time to. This aspect of minimalism starts to stray into another concept where many parallels exist - Essentialism - and the topic of another blog on its way. Watch this space.
Workshops and courses
I run a variety of courses and workshops around all the topics in my energy series and alcohol relationship series. Please check out my courses online
Blogposts in the energy series
Blog posts in the alcohol series
For an introduction into the fabulous minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, see the two Netflix documentaries
The minimalists less is now