I personally lived out of a 70L backpack for years of my life, carrying only what I needed as I travelled and adventured across the world. I moved overseas 3 times to New Zealand, Canada and the United States with this same 70L backpack; no furniture, no appliances, just the bare essentials.
So I would like to start by mentioning not only is Minimalism possible but it is practical too.
What is minimalism?
Minimalism is the practice of minimising the material objects and possessions in your life. This usually means getting rid of what is not essential or does not bring you joy, add value or have significant meaning.
Overt household decorations, excess clothing, or having multiple of the same item (like 2 pairs of running shoes) are all examples of areas where people may begin to minimise.
What are its principles
“Less is more” is the Minimalist mantra. Minimalism is primarily about detachment and optimising your energy. When we have hundreds of items to look after, we as their caretaker are now bound to clean them, maintain them and operate them and so forth. This takes time and effort and energy. If you are looking to spend more time focusing on pursuing your hobbies or passions and less time tidying up all your things or cleaning the house, then minimalism is a great way to start.
Steps to applying it
Write a list of the items you cannot do without in your home or your life. If you start realising items did not make that list, then ask yourself why it is you truly have those items. It is important to understand you will be emotionally attached to items in your life. So recognise that all items ownership is ephemeral and that once you let go of these items you will feel more weightless and free.
Separate the items which you wish to remove from your life. That lamp, painting, or old wardrobe items, those spare tools in the shed. You do not need to make your life “harder” by removing items which you truly need. Start small and once you begin to accept small acts of separation from items, you will grow to be able to let go of bigger and bigger items.
Plan how you will remove these items. Will you sell these items? Will you donate them to a charity shop? Wil you gift them to a friend? Selling items or giving them away is a good way to feel like you have still put the item to use and ‘honoured’ it, so it is strongly recommended you try first to sell or give the items away, and not just trash them.
Let them go. Yes as simple as it sounds let them go. Move on and don’t dwell.
“In truth when travelling we just need our; phone, wallet, passport, toothbrush and a set of clothes to get us to 90% of places without a problem”
Why decluttering works
Decluttering has been shown multiple times to improve mood, lower stress levels and also increase productivity. When people come home to a clear, open space they feel more calmed and placated. An environment that feels calm is better for optimising your focus and thus your productivity when working.
Picture for example Yoga studios and other areas where there is minimal material clutter, these are calming spaces.
When you have less clutter you have less to clean, less to organise, less to arrange, less to break or damage or look after. Decluttering is actually an act of freeing yourself from your possessions.
Why practising detachment works
Detachment is an incredibly valuable personal practice across multiple disciplines, not just when talking about removing objects from our life. Detachment leads to new opportunities and allowing space for fresh growth without.
As you move forward in your minimalism journey, begin to question the new purchases you make in your life.