Embracing Minimalism

Embracing Minimalism

Like many people, I’ve spent the majority of my life collecting things. While this process was never intentional, the more time passed, the more “stuff” I accumulated. Clothing, candles, purses, lotions, makeup…you name it, I’ve got it.  

Recently, I experienced what it was to live without 90% percent of my possessions.  After living in Tennessee for the past three years, my time in the southern state came to a close. I packed up the majority of my possessions and sent them on to be stored in Ohio, where I’m originally from. I intended to follow behind just a few days after, but ended up extending my stay for two weeks. (Granted, I have spent more than two weeks living out of a bag before, but sleeping in my nearly empty bedroom felt different.) My extra time in Tennessee was spent crashing on my roommate’s air mattress near Chattanooga and couch surfing in Nashville. Although I probably only wear half of my wardrobe as it is – another reason to sell/donate clothing! – it was rather foreign to have only the random items that had been left behind. My drawers full of beauty supplies (okay, ladies, do we really need six bottles of lotion?) were in a different state and I got a chance to see how little I need. 

The best part of this experience was that I genuinely thrived! Sure, some strategic planning to keep things like my vibrams would’ve been helpful, but overall, I was just fine. I got back to Ohio a couple days ago and was greeted with boxes of stuff. I was shocked at how unappealing it all was to me. While I once looked at my full closet with a sense of pride, I now stare at it and mentally calculate the next item I can get rid of. I’ve had multiple friends who have managed to cut down on their possessions so much that they’ve been able to fit everything they own in the backs of their cars. Lately, this lifestyle seems so much more appealing to me. 

The problem with living a lifestyle geared toward materialism is that it will never be enough. There will always be a new version of your smart phone, the perfect addition to your closet, a nicer car, or diamonds that somehow seem shinier than the ones you already own. That said, I have no problem with investing in quality purchases. It makes far more sense to me to spend a bit more money on something that will hold up, opposed to having to continually re-invest in cheaply made items. However, there is a big difference between “living for the next purchase” and allowing said purchases to enhance the quality of your life. I think the real contrast is in the non-attachment to possessions. If you live your life in pursuit of possessions, you will feel a sense of loss when they are gone. Instead, I encourage you to appreciate how “things” can enhance your life, but be so grounded internally that losing them would not truly impact you.  

Find your serenity outside of possessions, people! Whether it’s through meditation, being in nature, quality interactions with other humans, or any other sort of practice. The best time to let go and start being present is Now.   

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24 Responses »

  1. it’s funny reading this post as my desk is strewn with unnecessary gadgets and gizmos and a closet full of clothes that I rarely wear. I think I just found my Tuesday activity!

  2. So insightful Andrea! When I got back from my Training in Georgia, where I had three t shirts and two pairs of jeans plus my army uniform for 134 days, I saw all the STUFF I had clogging my physical and mental space. First thing I did? Clean house!

    My friends and family say I’m crazy for pitching perfectly good things, but I just don’t want or need them. I’m not afraid to live minimally but I notice that a ton of people are!

    Rock on, safe travels!

    • Nathan, that’s so wonderful. It’s amazing how experiences like that can evolve a person.

      Keep on keepin’ on!

  3. Great post! I think that it’s not just when you lose a thing that you feel a loss, but also when you realise that a particular item acquired hasn’t quite delivered the happiness, or the ever-lasting joy you expected it to…which then drives you to find the next thing in an attempt to find that happiness.

    Minimalism + 1, Materialism – 1 :-)

  4. The more stuff you own, the more stuff owns you. You end up with your time and resources managing, storing, maintaining, your stuff. It’s cathartic to get to a point where you can downsize and simplify. Each phase of life requires its own stuff, though. Like during the child raising years, more stuff seems to need to be around. In all of our years of getting rid of things and giving our stuff away there is only one item we regretted getting rid of. That was a treadmill we replaced for $250.

  5. Dear Andrea,
    You pined one of the worst cause of unhappiness for human beings: possession.
    Possession is something that when you have it (money, house, children, health, stuff, etc) you become scared by the thought of loosing it. If you do not have it you crave to get it.
    Aversion and craving are 2 out of 3 essential causes of suffering. Number one is ignorance.
    So are the teachings of Buddha and they make a lot of sense…
    I love the way you illustrated these basics.
    Take care :-)

    • Pierre, I am so in agreement with you. When we hold on too tightly to anything, we lose ourselves in it.

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  7. Ma bucur ca ai resuit sa faci pasul asta , este important nu toti au curajul asta sa se desprinda de tot ce “este confort” .. .. dar daca crezi in adancul inimii tale in scopul idealul care il ai .. universul “aseaza” tot in calea ta si observi sicronicitatile care vin “singure” in ajutorul tau , . doar te poti cunoaste pe tine si “intreg universul ” in singuratate .. singuratatea “ruperea de rutina cotidiana ” nu trebuie inteleasa cum un refugiu ci cum o binecuvantare .. si este da drumul de “lumina .. in lumina .. cand vei ajunge sa ti cunosti inima vei stii totul . Admir curajul si daruirea .. esti pe drumul cel bun :)

  8. Loved this post! I myself am in the process of downgrading my possessions… My goal is to leave to Europe in the upcoming months with nothing that will not fit into my suitcase & backpack. Wish me luck! :) x

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