Hey You there 🙂 Yes you. I reckon you landed here because you searched for “minimalism”. I did that too a few months back after I watched a somewhat cringy but overall inspiring little film called… wait for it… Minimalism (and in teeny tiny writing “A documentary about the important things”). This film was brought to you by… wait for it again… the Minimalists (google them if you don’t know who they are). You can tell these guys DO have their hearts in the right place its just I dunno, I kinda feel a little weird being sold minimalism. It feels a bit dirty. But whatever, it got me looking so I can’t fault them for the wake-up call.
So you want to be a minimalist?
Step 1- Realise that it’s a fad. No really, its definitely a fad. It’s been around the block a few times already. The Minimalists guys have just repackaged it for Millenials. The aesthetic emerged in the 60’s borne of all those different abstractISMS. Think lines and dots and blocks of colours. Think of a canvas with a single stroke of paint painstakingly and thoughtfully contrived after hours of agonising. Then of course, this little swish goes on to adorn the wall of a rich billionaire, the room it sits in is 10 x 10 metres wide all painted white with only this piece of art on one wall. Life is good for them anyway. Those are lofty goals to have for us mere mortal minimalists in training.
It’s a religion, too. At least that is what a lot of people on the minimalism Facebook groups will keep telling you. (Its unfair to use the word fad to describe a religion… but I guess in a way there are some faddy religions- I mean lets look at the worship of Amun-ra, I don’t think you are gonna find many followers of his nowadays- just saying) Taoism. To live a simple life without desires. I may have over-simplified that a bit, but that’s definitely the point. OVER- SIMPLIFY!
OK- once you accept that you are joining a fad and are prepared for it to- one day in the RELATIVELY NEAR FUTURE- no longer be “cool” or “in” move on to step 2.
Step 2- Nobody else you live with will want to willingly join you. Nobody. The only “person” you’ll have any hope persuading is your dog. Your dog is fine with minimalism. All he needs is you- and some food sometimes but seriously he’s good, he’s done this before.
The rest of your household, however, will not only scoff at you, they will roadblock you at every junction. Obviously, bribing them is difficult given that you are ready to stop having stuff and clutter, so you’ve got to get wise. Or you’ve got to give up trying. Either option is fine. If you give up on them and you happen to be the one in control of your house you can at least confine them and their stuff to one place. If you are at the mercy of the “rest of them” then confine yourself and make your one place your perfect one place. Despite what the Pinterest says, most minimalists have to live with non-minimalists and thus compromises must be made.
And there are bookshelves upon bookshelves dedicated to that subject. If you haven’t figured out world peace yet (please let us know when you do)- shoot for some inner peace and just start to settle for OK. Ok is good too. Ok is just fine! 😀
Go forth with the knowledge that you will HAVE to compromise. Do your best with that one… its good enough!
Step 3- Get rid of stuff. Now, I’m a practical gal. Once I committed to space (I’m in it for space by the way) I realised I couldn’t just sell off the knick-knacks (know kwhat kI Kmean?) I mean yes, the little junkie stuff had to go but so did some of…no A LOT of the furniture. Once you take out the little stuff, you’ll find that naturally the drawers will become empty and redundant. The shelves and tables, cabinets and, yes, even chairs and sofas will become superfluous. Once you can let the big and expensive pieces go (for a cringe worthy LOW return) your space will grow.
And isn’t that what you really want anyway??
Grow your space. Empty spaces are full of potential and creativity and trust me you will find lots of fun nothing to do in those spaces (especially if you have kids and pets!) You might find yourself tempted to do a cart-wheel or a dizzy spin yourself.
Step 4- Accept that this is a process. It is a long-term commitment to a goal. It is an ideal. There is no certificate of completion or diploma of minimalism”and important stuff”. In fact unless you broadcast it, only a select few people in your life will notice. This is for you. It’s for your heart. It’s for your sanity. Its for your conscious- this is how you interact with the people on the other side of the four walls you call home. It’s how you respect (or disrespect) that world out there through thoughtful consumption (or over-consumption). It is your temple. Your holy place! (see its hard not to get religious!)
You might look over there at Facebook or Pinterest and that green eyed monster starts yowling as you longingly gaze upon all those perfect minimal houses or rooms. Just don’t. They are there simply to inspire! You must tell yourself, whether its true or not, that NOBODY actually lives in those perfect houses. It’s a beautiful fantasy. That being said, keep those wispy flowing cotton curtains blowing in the ocean breeze deep in your mind and hold on to those images when you are in fact staring down a two year old with his “rock collection” and all the toy cars in your less than ocean breezy 1950’s cold damp kind of on the small-side house.
Step 5- Don’t get crazy. Ok, this is personally the HARDEST step for me. I want it so bad and I will DO ANYTHING to get it. I have thrown so much away in such a short period of time and yes there are one or two things I wish I still had (because other people I live with got so MOANY about not having those one or two things- compromise remember?? Don’t throw out their favourite coffee cup- you will regret it). But the crazy really came to me one day when I ended up on the Going Zero Waste Blog. Now don’t get me wrong- that girl is SUPER inspiring but there ain’t NO WAY IN H*££ I could have a single JAR of rubbish for a year. But while I was reading away, I kept thinking about the possibilities and the logistical hurdles. And that’s the point. She got me thinking about all that plastic stuff that just ends up in my house.
That said, there is such a thing as too much. And I think for most of us normies, really going zero waste is too extreme. I know you gotta have goals but start small, ok, and leave the crazy stuff for when you’ve been at the whole minimalism thing a while. It’s a process remember and as such you might find yourself pretty miffed during transitional phases with half a room in disarray and a pile of rubbish under another pile of “to sort” and another pile of “what the eff” and your hallway is full of legos. Your toddler has just filled his nappy and for some reason you smell of fish. On those days you will feel close to the edge. You might even want to yell into the abyss that is the chaos of your home. Don’t get crazy. Nothing good comes easy, my friend. That is a fact.
So there you have it. Welcome to the fold.
I’ve been right where you are and I know that just thinking about starting a minimalist life is hard so well done you for letting that little nugget of “what if” into your mind.
Happy starting!! Good luck.