Minimalism is the constant art of editing your life. - Danny Dover
What Minimalism Is Not
Let’s start with what minimalism is not.
The image of a late-20’s Silicon Valley techie with no kids and a stand-up desk as one of his only pieces of furniture is kind of the vibe people tend to get when minimalism is mentioned.
Minimalism is designed to make your life easier, not more complicated. No need to stress out over the fact that you might not have a 7-item earthen-toned capsule wardrobe or three pieces of furniture.
There is no color scheme that you need to fall into and while “classic pieces” are nice when it comes to clothes, the idea is really just to begin to pare away what you are not using as often.
Some people love to make a statement when it comes to their style and clothing is a way that they may express their creativity. If this is the case, find other areas in which to minimize. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things that are a part of your hobby or creative calling, it’s more a matter of finding areas where you can reduce while taking into account your attachment with certain things. There is no style or “look” that minimalism needs to or should have. The idea is not to eliminate joy from our lives, but to make life simpler so that we do in fact have the time, energy, and the resources to engage in what makes us thrive. Minimalism is the promotion of things we do value and removing things that distract us from an energetic life.
The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are. - Mother Teresa
The idea is for life to become easier, not harder to figure out with minimalism.
There are times when an upheaval of your house/life is beneficial or even necessary, but then the goal from there is to maintain space and freedom through prioritizing.
In American culture, with all the wonders of embracing abundance, things can start to lose value in the overflow. The nice thing about minimalism, although there can be an adjustment period at first, it’s never too late to begin. If you have kids, I know it can be more of a challenge to cut back on toys etc., but creating a new normal and a fresh outlook on what is important can happen at any stage. It can be a chance to revamp how your family operates and teach the beauty of balance and simplicity.
If you already have a minimal amount of material items, there are other ways that you can implement minimalism. Take a look at where your priorities lie. There are plenty of areas in which you can be intentional to make space such as: with whom you’re spending your time, agreed upon commitments, excess activities because you feel obligated, length of time on social media/Netflix/TV, the list is really endless.
Cutting back does not equal missing out, rather it leaves room for a more rich experience when it comes to the things and activities to which you choose to devote your energy.
Minimalism is built around the idea that there’s nothing that you’re lacking. - Fumio Sasaki
I recently discovered “MA” (maah) - a Japanese concept on simplicity. MA (negative space) has also been described as "the silence between the notes which make the music”. It is the idea that, when there is too much clutter, it is not always because you have too many things; it is rather because you don't have enough MA.
As the Japanese lifestyle editor, Wawaza explains, “MA is like a holder within which things can exist, stand out, and have meaning. Ma is the emptiness full of possibilities, like a promise yet to be fulfilled.”
MA is a celebration, not of things, but the space between them. It is about negative space, voids, emptiness. And it is relished in everything from interiors, architecture and garden design to music, flower arrangement and poetry.
This concept is something that relates to all aspects of life. It has been described as a pause in time, an interval or emptiness in space. MA is the fundamental time and space life needs to grow. If we have no time, if our space is restricted, we cannot flourish.
Thirty spokes meet in the hub,
Though the space between them is the essence of the wheel.
Pots are formed from clay,
Though the space inside them is the essence of the pot.
Walls with windows and doors form the house,
Though the space within them is the essence of the house.
(Old Japanese poem describing MA)
Minimalism can permeate all areas of your life.
“If it slows you down or zaps your energy, get rid of it.”
This is a good test as to what should remain and what you should considering removing from your life.
There are several ways that minimalism can improve various aspects of your life:
Declutter your home and you declutter your mind
Focusing less on material possession makes room for gratitude
There is freedom in not being tied to things
When your focus shifts, it increases space and time for you to invest your heart
in what truly matters
Able to focus on your passions instead of accumulating things you do not need
Making better decisions based on what you need rather than what you want
Intentional spending creates room for experiences
Tips to Minimalism
If clothes/accessories are your thing, try checking out the Poshmark App. You can find designer and rare pieces for a fraction of their original cost.
De-clutter once every 4 months- even if you think clutter is not affecting your moods it absolutely does!
Be intentional on how and with whom you spend your time. Time is money, but there is also an energy transfer that occurs, so make sure you’re wise in this area.
Create space for rest. Whatever this may look like in your busy stressful and how your family dynamic is set up- prioritize rest and it will carry you in more ways than hustling can.
Pare down on subscriptions. It’s tempting to be subscribed to every music, app, and TV streaming platform, but try cutting back. Even an extra $20-$30 a month is something!
When meal prepping and grocery shopping, allow for some cheat meals/foods so you aren't tempted to go buy something when you get a craving.
Clearing out extra makeup/toiletry products every month or so. These seem to accumulate rapidly for whatever reason!
One of the best parts about minimalism for me is the increased experiences. Rather than accumulating material possessions, spend the time, energy, and money in getting out and experiencing life. You don’t have to spend a ton of money either- get creative!
You can still have collections. Pick a couple if you have a lot, and even weave them in as decor in your home if that works. Multiple uses for things you love is the best!
If you have a lot of hobbies or if crafting and creating are a part of your livelihood, make a little hobby space and get the appropriate storage- cozy minimalism is my favorite.
Prioritize your commitments. Write a list of your commitments and eliminate what is not important. Re-evaluate on a monthly basis.
What Does Minimalism Look Like for You?
What have you believed about minimalism that has kept you from beginning?
What obstacles do you need to get rid of in order to live more purposefully?
What do you hope to accomplish from living minimally?
Where will you create space for more time/energy/money?