3 Reasons “Minimalism” Doesn’t Mean What You Think

You guys, I’m actually nearing the END of my tidying sessions.  Like-I’ve almost touched with my hands every single item in this house. Here’s what I have left, just for reference:

  • Kitchen Stuff (in progress!)
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Laundry Supplies
  • Miscellaneous Bathroom items
  • Pet Supplies
  • Musical Instruments/Accessories (Husband’s chore!)

As I think back to everything I’ve done so far and how many bags and boxes and piles of stuff have left this house, I feel accomplished.  I feel lighter.  I’ve had the time and space to rediscover and do things that I love to do (like writing!).  I’ve begun to hatch new plans for the future.

I’ve found myself not only choosing what sparks joy, but choosing to part with seldom used things that are taking up space, and honestly asking myself, “Do I need this?  Why do I have it?  Will it be of more use to someone other than me?”  I still think I’ve kept too much in some cases.  So I’ve been thinking: does this qualify me as a minimalist?  I’m starting to believe maybe it does.  And I’m learning that minimalism doesn’t necessarily mean (or look like) what one might think.

1. Minimalism is different for everyone.  Minimalism is going to look different in my life than yours.  I’ve written in previous posts that in several categories, what I’ve chosen to keep still feels like PLENTY rather than “just enough.”  Which is still shocking to me considering the amount of stuff that has left this house.   Maybe when I’m done, I will end up revisiting all of the categories or most of them or just a few of them.  I don’t know. But I think what I’m learning is that the “right amount” of things feels different to different people.  I know that it’s different to Husband than it is to me.

While the first step of this process is intentionally choosing to live with less things, it doesn’t mean that my home will have white, bare walls and three pieces of furniture.  I wholeheartedly believe that giving LOTS of things away changes people for the better.  But in many ways that part of things is a means to an end. What’s truly important about this journey is realizing a desire to turn away from the notion that we always must be climbing the proverbial stairs to “more”.  To learn that our possessions do not at all define us, and pursue a life that is uncluttered in every way.

2. Less stuff brings more contentment.  When you choose to live with less, you’re no longer focusing on needing more. Not too long ago, I was spending a lot time thinking about what I didn’t have.  It was a miserable way to live and now, I am ashamed to reflect on and admit my discontent.  A bigger house, a newer car, and a gazillion other “things” were on

godly heart desire
Photo: Destin, FL

my want list and while I was focused on those things, it was impossible to see what was right in front of me.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with dreams that live in your heart. One of mine is to live by the ocean. But I don’t NEED to live by the ocean in order to be exceedingly joyful and content in life. Problems arise when you’re so focused on what you WANT that you have little to no ability to enjoy the blessings already in your life.  While there will always be temptation to slip back into old ways of thinking, the new has taken hold in a powerful way.  This journey has completely changed me.  I am more aware of and grateful for what I have and what I am able to give away to others than ever before.  And I can honestly say I’ve never felt more content in life. Always remember that there is a HUGE difference between a Godly heart-desire for something and letting your desire for something turn into your god.

3. You’ll Re-Discover Joy In Things That Were Hidden.  As I continue to sort through and visit long-forgotten items stored away in closets, I typically think one of two things.  1: why on earth did I keep this?  or 2: I completely forgot I had this and I can’t wait to use it!  Countless times on this journey, I have re-discovered and started using things that I truly love or that bring me joy (like jewelry).  Once I’ve sorted through a category of things and displayed/stored them in such a way that I can easily see at a glance what I have, it becomes so easy.

This joy can manifest itself in less obvious ways, as well.  I now have a designated space in the office closet for empty storage containers.  I have loved discovering that containers I no longer need in one place often work perfectly in another. Our old plastic medicine drawer now houses Husband’s bike-related gadgets on his new workbench. The plastic drawers that once housed old and un-used office supplies perfectly fits my gift wrapping accessories.

In “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, Marie Kondo makes the brilliant suggestion to use items you kept that bring joy in creative ways around the house.  As the clutter clears, you’ll start to get ideas.  I store all my tubes of wrapping paper in the tall, flat box that my shoe cube organizer came in.  It’s the perfect size, but ugly as sin.  So, I’m planning to use fabric or wrapping paper I kept to cover the box and make it JOYFUL. Once you have the space to look for creative ways to enjoy ALL the things you love, you can’t help but revel in new joy-joy that has been living in your home all along.

I would encourage you to take some time to intentionally seek out joy in your life today.  If you’re looking hard enough for something, you will find it.  Be careful not to miss out on the joy of today by thinking about, talking about and seeking things that foster discontent. Be present in the here and now.  And be thankful, always.



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