Life is our greatest teacher. Just when we think that we have seen all and done what could be done, it usually puts us in front of a whole new adventure.
That’s how I like to envision my cross-continent move almost two and a half years ago- an adventure. And my greatest life lesson from this move? The importance of minimalism.
Life Before Minimalism
I will not say that I was ever overly attached to material things. But, in my twenties, I did spend a considerable portion of my paycheck on buying stuff that caught my fancy. Thankfully this habit never went out of control and I still saved a good amount, while paying off my student debt ahead of schedule.
However, I did own a lot of things. These things not only took up space in my home but also contributed to my mental clutter. At this time, I was not aware of the concept of minimalism. What I did feel from time to time was a yearning for a simpler life involving fewer possessions.
Life happened and I had to relocate halfway across the world. This move required me to change a lot of things in my life. I resigned from my cushy job, sold or gave away most of my belongings, and came to the US with just two bags.
It was a strange feeling- to be in a new land without the anchor or comfort of the familiar.
At the same time, it was the most liberating experience of my life. It not only taught me to be always open to change but also led me on a journey of pursuing minimalism.
What Is Minimalism To Me?
While the underlying idea about minimalism remains the same, it can mean different things to different people. A lot of the interpretation depends on our inherent natures and characteristics. That being said, to me minimalism is all about having just enough.
I do not practice minimalism with the idea of having fewer possessions or throwing away stuff. Instead, I focus on not accumulating things mindlessly. You could say that for me minimalism is a form of practicing mindfulness in my daily life.
Lessons About Minimalism
So what did this move teach me about minimalism? It gave me a whole new perspective. It taught me that my happiness is not controlled by my possessions – I have to instead find happiness in myself.
The following are the 5 most important lessons about minimalism that I learned during this time.
1. I Already Have Enough
I discovered that I needed very basic things to live my life. A huge wardrobe was unnecessary, I could rotate my clothes effectively. Similarly, I began to see all the “shiny new toys” I once would’ve scooped up in an instant as frivolous. I was perfectly fine with what I had and could buy things when necessary.
This realization in itself lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Once I came to terms with the fact that I had what I needed, I could focus my energy on other important things – like my hobbies and passions.
2. Fewer Things Equals More Mobility
This seems like a no-brainer but bear with me. But we often forget that the less we have, the easier it is to move around with our luggage. Of course, this applies to people like me who move around a lot. I have shifted houses 14 times in the last decade. There are perhaps only fewer tasks more tiring than packing for a move.
Paring down my possessions as part of my minimalism journey has taught me that the less I own, the freer I can be. It has a remarkable positive impact on both physical and mental health.
3. Eliminating Materials Leads To Lesser Stress
Some people can be genuinely inspired even when they are surrounded by clutter. That’s not the case for me. Having too much stuff adds to my anxiety. I am sure there are others out there who feel the same.
To all those people I would just say – the fewer material possessions you have, the lesser the stress. Cleaning, organizing, storing, and caring for everything takes time, and the more items present, the longer it takes.
4. Not Everything Has To Be Minimized
Now, this is a bit counter-intuitive. My journey of minimalism has taught me that not every aspect of my life requires me to be a minimalist. There are areas I find where indulgence is beneficial. For me, those areas are my hobbies.
We often make the mistake of looking at minimalism as the process of elimination. However, that is not true. Minimalism is, at its core, the practice of letting in only those things that we absolutely love. And if you love painting or reading or a particular sport, you do not need to curb your wishes when it comes to fulfilling desires related to them.
5. True Happiness Is Intentional
What has happiness got to do with minimalism? Quite a bit, actually.
Modern society puts a great emphasis on consumerism and attaches our potential to be happy with the number of things we buy. We might feel that it is not enough to buy clothes once in 6 months or a new gadget every couple of years. We are in a world that constantly entices us to buy more with the lure of happiness.
But is that actually the case? Can real happiness be found in the next purchase? I do not think so. Living with less and buying things mindfully has shown me that true happiness is intentional. We have to look within ourselves and learn to be happy. The fleeting satisfaction that we feel when we buy something new does not represent genuine happiness. Sure, it does give a sense of euphoria but it is always short-lived, and often followed by the overwhelm of items that were once new and have turned into clutter.
True happiness, on the other hand, is gained through practice, patience, and the knowledge that what we need is perhaps already there with us.
About the Author: Somrita is a painter, bookworm, an occasional baker, and the blogger behind beingsen.com.. After spending a decade working in corporate jobs, she decided it was time for her to pursue her passion- writing.