August 13, 2012

Minimalism Monday


I saw an article on hoarders recently with a headline that asked, "Why aren't hoarders bothered by all that junk". It made me think, "Why aren't consumers bothered by all that junk?" What's the difference?

It is difficult to separate the hoarders from big-box consumers stuffing all available storage space with bargains, some of which will never be used or seen again until the estate sale. 

Most of us in industrialized countries could use a serious minimalizing of our possessions. We tend to hang on to things like kids hang on to their collections of stickers, coins, or miniature action figures - "They're cute - collect them all!". 

Before long our cherished stuff, our "collections", are like lead boots that threaten to drag us down. Minimalism, on the other hand, gives us wings.

We should be teaching minimalism in schools rather than the current doctrine of conspicuous consumption, or maximalism, and save our kids from the smothering burden of complicated, stuff-oriented lives. After all, maximalism is not sustainable, while minimalism definitely is.
"There are many different facets to minimalism, but in a nutshell, it is about cutting the unnecessary clutter from your life to enable you to focus on what makes you happy. 
People practice minimalism for many reasons - be it to remove redundant possessions, clear their minds of worry, or even just for aesthetic appeal - but in essence, it is a means to increasing the quality of your life by removing rather than adding. 
Though it must be noted here that keeping things that make you happy can be just as important as removing things that don't."     - from r/minimalism FAQ
Linda and I stopped adding to our possessions long ago, and have been working on removing selectively in order to achieve an optimal amount of stuff - just enough to do the things we love. We think very seriously before bringing anything into our home (unless it is wholesome food).

Some recent examples of our ongoing efforts to minimalize and cut unnecessary clutter include:
  1. Earlier this summer we recycled our microwave, and a toaster over after they quit working. Since our kitchen is very small, and we like a lot of free counter space for wild and creative cookery, we did not replace the appliances. We already have an oven and stove top, and these are what we use now for all our cooking, reheating, and baking. The best part - peace and quiet without a noisy microwave, and room to roam in the kitchen.
  2. I am not sure how stuff lays right under our noses, untouched, for years without us being more aware of it, but these items that blend into the background must be seen, and eliminated from our lives. We took  boxes of unused stuff to the thrift shop, and got rid of them for good. Don't have to look at them, don't have to think about them.
  3. We have been digitizing photos and music CDs, then giving away the original hard copies.
  4. We gave away our TV, and have no plans to buy a new one. It is amazing how getting the big screen out of the house makes it feel so much more spacious and calm.
  5. Everything has its place. Any new items that do not fit harmoniously into existing spaces won't make it through the front door.
How have you been increasing the quality of your life by removing rather than by adding?

8 comments:

  1. The new theme for the bog is nice!

    I've been downsizing and simplifying for many years now, and I go to and comment on r/minimalism often. It's been a good trip so far.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you like the new look. I also go to r/minimalism and enjoy it. I moderate r/simpleliving - check it out at: http://www.reddit.com/r/simpleliving/

      Delete
  2. We've been in our house for nearly 6.5 yrs, and I'm amazed at the amount of stuff we've managed to accumulate. Before that we were moving on an average of every one to two years, which forced us to get rid of the unnecessary.

    While we're not big consumers, I've gotten lazy about getting rid of stuff we no longer need, and it was really starting to become overwhelming. So we started getting rid of stuff little by little, starting with the microwave. It's been a very freeing experience.

    Now we're looking at selling our home, purchasing an RV, and moving out West. The reality of getting rid of the majority of our posessions is both exciting and daunting, especially for our kids. But I believe it will be a very positive experience for all of us in the end.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing - we love to hear stories like this. One of the best things about buying stuff is the good feeling you get when you give it away. Linda and I are also contemplating going nomadic in an RV for a few years.

      Good luck with the move, and definitely let us know how it all goes.

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  3. We got loads of second hand stuff when we moved into our (first) house two years ago- we only bought a sofa and a wardrobe (no closets in the UK!). We also had to buy kitchen stuff. We did not buy a microwave- the house came with a massive oven with five gas hobs, so I felt a microwave was unnecessary- we've not missed it.

    Despite having thought that we had not brought too much unnecessary stuff into the house, in the past two years I have still got rid of a lot of stuff- including three large bits if furniture!

    The latest thing on the hit list is the bread maker, since I discovered just how easy it is to make it from scratch!

    Also, all of the CDs and DVDs that we don't really watch- have been ruthless with mine, got to persuade my boyfriend to cull some of his...same with my books- read it or it goes.

    The less stuff I have, the nicer the house feels, the less frustrating every day is (things falling out of cupboards on you), and I get to enjoy a clean house with less effort- and when the house is clean I get to do fun stuff without guilt, be that sewing, reading, knitting, walking or just chilling out. Or messing about in the garden :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Thank you for showing how living with less can be better.

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  4. NicolaB summed it up nicely...less stuff means a clean, neat house with less effort. Also, it's easier to find things when there are less places to look. I actually have some empty cupboards and an empty closet!

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    Replies
    1. Most people I know move to a larger, more expensive place because they, "need more room". Pretty soon you will be able to downsize to a smaller, less expensive place!

      Delete

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