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Yesterday, I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. The last time we’d spent time together she had just moved into a beautiful new home with her husband and two daughters.
She was excited about what the house would mean for them as a newly blended family, but at the same time bemoaned the fact that that they had so much stuff.
Having each brought an entire household into the marriage, the newlyweds quickly realised that figuring out what to do with everything was a lot harder than they’d anticipated.
Still, they forged ahead. Moving, arranging and compromising until everything had a place. They entertained, they had people stay over and they luxuriated in the vastness of their rambling piece of suburbia.
But then my friend found herself with health issues and a business that had gone pear-shaped. Stress went from being an infrequent visitor to the house guest that wouldn’t leave. Something had to give.
One evening they went out with some new friends; a couple who’d made it a habit to live in a different city around the world every year. What struck my friend and her husband most was how relaxed and at ease these two were.
When they got home later that night their minds were made up. They were going to sell their house, dramatically downsize their belongings and reevaluate what they were doing with their lives. The letting go process took quite a few months and it wasn’t always easy, but they persevered.
They eventually rented a furnished cabin overlooking the beach. Life slowed down and they took stock. They realised the things they’d been hanging onto were just things. They started looking elsewhere for their memories and took pleasure in knowing that the stuff they’d let go of was making someone else happy now.
At the end of the year they’re heading to Singapore for a few months to explore new business opportunities. “A year ago the idea of going overseas for an extended period would have seemed ludicrous, now it’s a reality,” said my friend with a smile.
What Even is Minimalism?
Many people think minimalism is a means to an end. You declutter your home and end up with a more minimalist environment. End of story.
Not so fast. Your newly decluttered surroundings are great, but in our experience it’s only the beginning.
It’s also different for everyone, so be sure to check out our page of curated TEDx talks on minimalism for inspiration.
It Starts With Decluttering
Decluttering can be a way to tidy up your immediate surroundings or it can serve as the first step on a really exciting journey. It’s up to you. Do you want to optimize your life or keep doing what you’ve always done?
Decluttering creates the space you need to see beyond what’s under your nose.
When you’re bogged down with stuff it’s almost impossible to imagine that there’s more to life. You can sense it, but actually recognising it as a real possibility is too much of a stretch.
With Space Comes Freedom
Space is an amazing thing. It opens the door to ‘what if’ and helps you avoid ‘if only’. The caveat, of course, is that you have to let it. If all you do is get rid of your stuff and then buy more, you’ll miss out on the potential freedom that’s available to all of us.
Minimalism is the tip of the iceberg, a portal if you will (much like Alice’s magical looking glass or the wardrobe that leads to Narnia). You have no idea where you’ll end up when you set off, but you can be guaranteed the journey will be packed with adventure.
We’re off to house sit a permaculture farm, my friend and her husband are heading abroad on an extended business discovery trip. Other friends of ours spent six months touring the states in a campervan named Jessie and then went on to walk the Camino.
In all our cases, it started with downsizing.
Minimalism Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Lifestyle
Embarking on a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be hitting the road with a backpack (or wheelie suitcase). If that’s what you want to do, cool, but it could just be finding a slower pace right where you are.
For a lot of people minimalism simply means more time to spend on the things that matter: relationships, family, raising kids, working on passion projects, creating art, fast tracking retirement, whatever.
It’s about paring down the unnecessary until you’re left only with the things you really need. The things that make a positive impact on your life. Things in this instance refer as much to habits and beliefs as it does to physical items.
It’s about embracing all that’s great in your life and letting go of that which no longer serves you. When you do that you clear the way for magic to flow into your life.