Becoming a Minimalist: Do less, Buy Less, Live Longer

03 Aug

Becoming a Minimalist: Do less, Buy Less, Live Longer

To make a change in life and living is something that is hard as moving a big huge rock. We always tend to go the easier way or get all the things and never work with minimal things. Maybe it’s a fault of our parents, maybe it is ours.

We won’t know until we try. It is time to start living life with less, become a Minimalist.

Why I waited so long?

In my experience, slow shifts are more sustainable than radical change. I have a family and they come first. Also, I had to experiment to determine what was enough for me.
I was seeking more. Just getting rid of stuff wasn’t my intention and I wanted to discover what meant most to me, what made my heart sing.
I am still seeking, experimenting and defining enough. I don’t have an end point in mind.

From the beginning!

Growing up (or even just a few short years ago) I never, ever would have imagined writing a post about how I became a minimalist.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a minimalist is, simply defined, someone who decides to be intentional about what things (possessions, people, ideas) they include in their life. Practically, this means minimalists generally own few things and strive to live smaller, simpler lives (less things = more joy!)

Adapting a minimalist mindset is one of the most powerful ways I have changed my life; it has reshaped how I spend my days and helped me find the freedom to follow my dreams.

But I’ll be honest – minimalism didn’t come easy for me (at least not at first.) It was a long and sometimes painful journey.

I’ll be sharing how i practice minimalism and details about how exactly it has changed my entire life later in this post. But first let’s start at the beginning with a snapshot of what my life used to look like.

DISCOVERING A MINIMALIST LIFE

I’m not always very good at seeing the obvious, but looking back (with clarity that comes with time) it’s clear that I was unhappy because I was contradicting myself.

What I really wanted more than anything was freedom – to travel, to do meaningful work, to chase my dreams – but instead I had built a cage for myself. I had been spending incredible amounts of money so I was trapped by debt and non-existing savings. I also had the responsibility of owning so many things – the cleaning, maintenance, and storage – all of which took up considerable time and space in my life.

Somewhere around 2010/11 I stumbled across a few minimalism blogs. The first was Rowdy Kittens and I was really interested in their story of downsizing to a tiny home. From there I found Miss Minimalist and heard about Project 333 (a minimalist fashion project).

I was fascinated by all the stories I used to be reading about people living intentional, simpler lives. The concept of more – of wanting to earn more, own more, and be more – was so ingrained in my own mind that the idea that you might intentionally choose to want less shocked me.

After that i started to imagine how different my entire life could be without so much stuff and so many bills.

I could choose to work part time or to do more meaningful work (instead of focusing on my paycheck); I possibly could have more money and time for experiences I enjoyed, like camping trips or yoga classes; or I could travel more and spend time with family overseas.

As wonderful as it all sounded, in reality it is hard to change habits and mindsets of a lifetime overnight. I tried to cut back and make small changes, but I wasn’t ready to let go. I was surprised to realise the emotional connection I felt to my stuff; it was strange to realise that something so simple as putting a shirt in the charity bin could draw such strong emotions.

Frugality Needs Less Time

Through my life change, I came to realize that in many instances, frugality actually takes less time than non-frugality. There’s a myth that a life of frugality is more time consuming than a life of intake and in some specific instances, I’d say that’s true. But my experience is that, on the whole, frugality requires less time. Why? Because there is so much less to do and to get worried about and less to militate against. Much of my frugality pertains to simplicity and how I can streamline my life in order to make it more efficient.

Take, for example, the fact that I do not buy clothing and haven’t for over three years (with the exception of a pair of winter boots, chronicled here).

This saves me:

1) Time

Me strolling the streets of Portland, ME last month, wearing a dress that’s at least 7+ years old.
I’m not dashing in and out of thrift stores trying on clothes with a toddler in tow, I’m not cruising the internet shopping for dresses on Amazon, I’m not even losing time thinking about buying clothes or what I would need/want next. It’s not part of my entire life. When-and if-I truly need an article of clothing (as happened with those winter boots last year), I buy it. But I don’t spiral into a frenzy of buying an completely new wardrobe just because I need one item.

2) Stress

I am not anxious about whether or not I’ve fabulously fashionable clothing for every single cultural event of the year. Wearing what I own and I focus on wearing things that are comfortable and that I enjoy. I must say i don’t care if I’m in style or not. I think I look nice and I’m happy with how I dress.

If other people care, that’s entirely their problem-not mine. I no longer internalize the belief that I must define myself by could dress. I define myself by my actions. By what I DO with my time, not by some articles of towel that I use to keep warm and stay on this aspect of decency laws.

I’d much rather people judge me by what I say and what I really do than by something so arbitrary as what I wear. And you know what? They actually. Once I let go of defining myself by my outward appearance, I was able to connect with people in a more genuine way. I became confident, which in turn breeds happiness, which spills over onto individuals you meet.

3) Money

You can find countless other examples of how frugality saves us time: home haircuts take a quarter-hour as opposed to the embodied time and cost of driving/walking/biking to a salon. Waiting in line, getting your hair cut, and then driving/walking/biking back home. Cooking in your own kitchen will take far less time than generating to-and waiting at-a restaurant, and the list goes on. But the biggest time savers are the things that we simply stopped doing and stopped needing consequently of our frugality.

Think through your typical week and write down everything that sucks up your time. What on this list can you simply forget about? What is it possible to simply stop doing? No major crises need happen, no transformative seismic shifts, just the simple approval that you no longer require to do it. Anything that sensed like a hassle which didn’t bring us fulfillment we let go of.

At the end I must say one thing: It’s NOT easy!

I am not the most frugal person you know, and neither am I basking in the most simple life. What I am is deliberate. I will continue fighting and become even bigger minimalist. Live long and prosper!