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 FAQLinda 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- We have been digitizing photos and music CDs, then giving away the original hard copies.
- 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.
- 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?