The general public seems to define a minimalist as someone who owns very little. But most minimalists define minimalism the way The Minimalists do: a tool that can help you focus on living a worthwhile life by eliminating superfluous items in favor of what’s necessary, beautiful, and meaningful. Some may also abide by Marie Kondo‘s definition of minimalism: keeping only that which sparks joy in your heart.
I first moved to Boston when I was 19. I had two suitcases and $1,200. And I was happy. Fast forward 12 years and I owned a lot of stuff and had created a family of my own. I was happy with y family, but I wasn’t happy with the rest of my life. I had changed jobs, but that hadn’t helped. I had changed my diet, but nothing else changed. I tried buying more stuff, but that just seemed to make it worse. Perhaps I needed to do the opposite of what I had been trying. Perhaps I needed to simplify and surround myself only with that I loved.
The problem came when I actually started going through my stuff and it turned out that almost none of it brought me joy. And so, over the next year or so, I got rid of almost all of it.
So far, so good, right? But it turns out that if you want to stay working full time, you do need some stuff. And so I decided that if I was going to replace some of my stuff, I was going to replace it with stuff that brought me joy.
It turns out that I have very simple taste. I like the best – it’s that simple. If I was going to spend money replacing something, I wanted to love whatever it was that I bought. And so I went from buying cheap clothes from Old Navy to buying serious business lady clothes from companies like MM.LaFleur . Sure, a dress from MM costs $150 – $200, but I feel like a million bucks in it, so that makes it worth it, right? It’s also worth noting that I replaced over 200 items of shoes and clothing with less than 50 items.
Then we bought a condo and needed to renovate it and furnish it. We didn’t go all-out on either count, but the dollar signs sure did add up fast.
I now own a lot less than I used to. And I purchase a much smaller number of items per year than I used to. So where’s the problem, you ask? The problem is that I forgot a key component of minimalism somewhere along the way. Before you purchase something, you should always ask yourself if that item is worth your freedom. Because every item we own weighs us down a little bit more and costs us a little bit more, not only in terms of cash money but also in terms of opportunity cost.
Even though I own fewer items and spend far less time shopping, I’m not much happier. In fact, I work even harder now to maintain my lifestyle than I did before I pursued minimalism.
Somewhere along my journey, I got lost. I forgot that the goal is to lead a more meaningful life, not just to own less stuff or to own stuff that I love. I neglected to embrace the heart and soul of the practice. The good news is that minimalism is a practice, and the more I practice the better I will get.
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This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt: Dormant