Side Effects of Minimalism
I stumbled onto minimalism a few years ago both out of necessity for keeping a budget as well as learning to appreciate simplicity. It has since become second nature and I have discovered there are so many positive side effects of minimalism. The mainstream view of minimalism is owning basically 10 items of clothing, 1 glass, and 1 fork.
...Maybe that's a slight exaggeration.
But really I think the idea of minimalism gets a bad rap to the general public for being so extreme. Yes, there are those that can literally count the possessions they own but that isn't feasible for the majority of people. Instead, the most important takeaway from learning about minimalism isn't to own as few items as possible.
Minimalism means truly understanding the beauty of simplicity and to stop putting value on material possessions.
The more I read, the more intrigued I became on the topic. At this point, I lived in my apartment and was a sucker for all the trends of how a bookcase should be styled, how to style this or that and everything. THUS I had knick knacks everywhere. Little objects that, at the time, I believed looked cute and charming lining my shelves. Now I look back and think, what was the use of having these random little figurines just taking up space and collecting dust? Many of them were second hand but some were bought from Target and Home Goods. Regardless of how cheap, I was still wasting money on no true value.
At this point, I also had student loan debt that I was so ready to be done with. It seemed inconceivable to live life without debt and I felt like I would never get out from underneath it. I realized if I wanted to get rid of the debt, as much frivolous spending had to be cut out as possible.
Fast forward a few years and we're in our home. I had to pack all that extra stuff I had accumulated over the years for no real reason. I've been on such a streak of donating, selling, and repurposing things I don't find value in anymore.
Let me tell you, it has been FREEING.
The idea of minimalism has had such an effect on my life and thought process but I don't feel the pressure to be as minimalist as possible and count my items. I'll call my take "minimalish". Through my process, I've had some totally unexpected side effects of minimalism.
My home is cleaner
I get compliments all the time how clean my home is. Since I take pride in having a welcoming, loving home, that compliment always makes me swoon.
BUT, my secret is I'm not a clean freak. I'm not spending hours a day ferociously keeping up with it. I no longer have to. Visually, a home just looks neater with less stuff and less clutter. Your eyes see less and it's more calming and simple. I clean no more often now than my apartment but having less items everywhere looks SO much neater.
Before, the bookshelves and coffee tables gathered so much dust around all that stuff. Not only does it accumulate dust faster (or so it seems), but it takes way longer to clean around everything. Now? 1 second to swipe the dust cloth over a clean, empty surface.
This one is obvious. The less I buy, the less I spend. I finally paid off my student loans and our only debt is the mortgage. I don't have any impulse buys. I don't feel the need to try that new 'miracle' hair cream. I don't buy a new pair of shoes just because they're cute.
At first, it was an act of consciously stopping myself from buying more stuff I didn't need. Now, it's so ingrained in me. I can go into a store and admire all the pretty things they have without feeling the need to purchase anything. It is now second nature to not buy anything unless I consciously made the decision prior that I need it. My only pair of blue jeans ripped the other day. Unfortunately, the rip was not repairable to donate and I couldn't fit in them even if I did patch them. I brought them for textile recycling, replaced them and still own just one pair. No shopping just to shop.
This has reduced the clutter at home immensely. Before, I was the sucker that bought every hair product that was the next 'dream' product that promised the world. Spoiler alert: None of them are. I used most things a few times and bought new. I still cringe just at the thought of that but I have at least stopped the bleeding now. My bathroom cabinet is filled only with my essential products I consistently use.
Not having extra things around me has become almost addictive. Not only do I not buy all the extra stuff I don't need but I have learned I don't even want most things I already have. I am consistently going through all my possessions and donating what I no longer need or find use for. This includes clothing, shoes, accessories, books, home decor, the list goes on.
Before, every coffee table, shelf, wall space, EVERYTHING had to be decorated. It was cluttered and chaotic. Seeing blank spaces in my home and closets that are neat instead of stuffed to the brim is so soothing and relaxing to me. Less to clean, less to organize, less to deal with.
I want to give more
Years ago when I saw a shirt I rarely wore I made the argument in my head of "oh I love it I'll definitely wear that soon I just forgot about it". Now, if I haven't worn it in a while, why let it sit unused in my closet when someone else can find use out of it? In my mind it has become almost selfish to hoard all these items I don't use when I can donate them to someone that needs them.
This has applied to other parts of my life too. I'm saving more than I used to and I have found I'm giving to charities more too. I thought I was counting my pennies before to pay off debt but really I was still spending my money on whatever I wanted and debt was second. I see how much I save now not spending frivolously and getting rid of debt. I want to help others that need help even more.
I am calmer and less stressed
Less to clean, less to organize, less to look at. It is all calming. I don't look at that pile of paper on the table and mentally add it to my never-ending to-do list anymore. I don't come home and see a million things I need to do to clean my house and make it 'acceptable'. This isn't needed anymore because less stuff means less cleaning. I have now realized all the unneeded tasks that cluttered my mind and made me feel stressed. I can wake up on the weekends, lay in bed and wake up slowly instead of rushing to my house chores.
The Bottom Line?
Whether you go full hog counting your items or simply become a conscious consumer, embracing minimalism has profound effects on our lives and the environment. By placing thought into every purchase and item we own, we defy the world of consumerism. You'll learn that trends are simply created by companies and the true value in life isn't having the newest and greatest, but valuing what you have as well as empty space. The effects of minimalism will be life changing.