“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start right now and change the ending.” C.S. Lewis
One of the biggest obstacles to becoming a minimalist is finding the time and capacity to undo what we’ve done. Who really wants to spend their evenings and weekends sifting through the clutter of our many, many, many years of accumulation?
Now, personally, I love it! I may be a little odd, but I wish I could bring each one of you a muffin, latte and my awkward enthusiasm for all things de-owning, and personally dive in to help you. I just love helping people get rid of their stuff!
Since I’m over here and your over there, it’s not really an option.
Just Picture It
If only we could simply recognize where it was we went wrong, snap our fingers, make it all go away and start over today.
Unfortunately, nothing in life really works that way. If you want to live with less, eventually you’ll have to do the hard work of letting go. There is just no way around it.
If you are someone who is really struggling to let go, let’s try a different approach. For today, let’s pretend you’ve already done that hard work.
Imagine that your closet is purged, your basement is no longer a storage unit, and your counters are cleared of the day-to-day rubble. You can easily find your chapstick in that bathroom drawer and your favorite black cardigan is no longer buried under fifteen ugly ones. In fact, you can easily find just about everything.
…Well not everything. For some reason, your remote will still come up missing from time to time. I hate to break it to you, but I’ve yet to figure out how minimalism solves this dilemma. Unless you get rid of your TV altogether, but let’s not get carried away here.
Anyway, back to imagining. Siigghh, can’t you just picture it? This home of yours is quite a beautiful sight.
You’ll get to your stuff. Right now, let’s start with your brain.
Choose to move forward right now and change the ending. Create new habits and world views to help you cultivate a life you love. Begin by intentionally promoting the things that matters most.
Here are 5 ways to develop a minimalist state of mind without ditching your stuff…yet.
1. Become a More Conscious Consumer
For the longest time I bought anything and everything that would make life more simple. The next thing you know, I had forty-five items intended to help me slice food easier. Start by taking a step back and reevaluating what you need and why you feel the need to purchase something.
Investigate the way you’ve been spending by creating a budget. Creating a budget and more closely monitoring my spending habits helped me to stop the mindless purchasing.
We see 5,000 advertisements a day. If we aren’t intentional with how we spend our money, we won’t stand a chance in the fight against accumulation.
Moving forward as a minimalist begins with an investigation into what matters most to you. Start to make purchases that align with your heart.
Choose experiences over things, in order to create moments that last rather than accumulating possessions to maintain.
2. Fight the Comparison Trap
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
We often look at our homes as something we need to be constantly upgrading and updating. Now, I’m not suggesting you never replace or repair anything. Our own home could certainly use a flooring face lift. They’ve seen better days. However, this project’s timeline gets pushed further and further back every time I watch my children dramatically slide a chair across our hardwood floors to use as a ladder in order to reach the Sharpie markers.
I’m simply suggesting that HGTV’s number one goal is to sell you something and it starts by convincing you that your home sucks.
The mantra of the American Dream seems to involve a call to upgrade. We see it everywhere. From paint color trends and cell phones, to Amazon orders and the latest fashion trends, we are constantly told that what we have is not enough.
Comparison distracts us from the beauty in our moments.
I’m proud of my chemical free weeded lawn, battered dining room table and sparse fireplace mantel. Not because they are trending but because they are mine.
They are a part of the story of us. I don’t want anyone else’s story.
3. Walk in Gratitude
Walking in gratitude takes practice and quite honestly, doesn’t always come naturally. We have to look for it, find it, choose it. Opt to focus on what it is we have rather than what we’d like to have instead.
“Joy is always a function of gratitude – and gratitude is always a function of perspective. If we are going to change our lives, what we’re going to have to change is the way we see.” – Ann Voskamp
Gratitude helps me see my stuff for what it is, stuff.
4. Keep a Clearer Schedule
I used to think I thrived under pressure, turns out I was just addicted to it.
If I was constantly rushing, it felt like I was productive. I have since come to realize that all of those errands, appointments and multiple weekly play dates turned me into an overbooked frantic mom, distracted from the very thing I was trying to accomplish.
It doesn’t matter how much you get rid of, if you don’t have the time to enjoy the things that matter.
Consider this your permission slip to say “no” to things. If you are feeling the pressure to over commit, go ahead and tell them Rachelle Crawford made you say “no.” I don’t mind being the bad guy. I kicked unwanted guests out of Labor and Delivery rooms for 11 years. I’ve got your back.
5. Give Abundantly
A minimalist state of mind is a generous one.
Whether it’s with your time, money, possessions or all three, find ways to be generous. When it comes to donating possessions, I believe seeking out a donation center with a vision and purpose you believe in, will help make letting go much sweeter. You don’t have to select just one either.
We pass on our youngest’s clothes as she outgrows them to a friend with twins just a stage behind her.
Our household items and clothing go to our local city rescue mission thrift store. Shelter residents have free access to my donations and the money earned from whatever is sold in their store goes to fund the rescue mission.
I scratch my garage sale itch, (if you love garage sales as much as I do then you know what I mean), by hunting for cribs and pack-n-plays in great condition to purchase and donate to a local pregnancy services ministry. They pass them on to families who need a safe sleep option for their little ones. (If you’re in the Lansing area, join me in dropping your gently used pack-n-plays or cribs here!)
Coming along side these community resources provides me with a greater sense of purpose and overall happiness.
In a post about the psychology of happiness, Joshua Becker points to a study by the University of California Berkley that concluded,
“spending more of one’s income on others results in greater happiness.”
An Invitation to Begin Today
Massively purging your belongings may not be something you can take on right now or ever even intend to do. That’s your call. However, minimalism isn’t really about your possessions. It’s about living with purpose and intentionality. That is something we can all start doing today.
For more inspiration
Need Some Serious Decluttering Motivation?
Here we will tackle 3 common decluttering obstacles so you can let go and get uncluttered for good. If you’ve ever gotten started and then gotten stuck, this FREE resource is for you!