How to Embrace Minimalism

Author: Amani James
07.15 / Lifestyle

I’m a minimalist. Yeah, I know, minimalism might seem like a suffocated trend that appeals to the masses of millennials who’ve realized that our parents might have taken things too far; we grew up with garages full of things we never used, and remote storage bins filled with our childhood memories. Our mothers bought two shirts because they were on sale, even when we repeatedly told her we didn’t really care for the ruffles. According to minimalists Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, “Minimalism is a tool we use to live a meaningful life.”

I came across the concept of minimalism during a time when it just happened to make sense for me. I lived in a college dorm during my junior year, and I was sick of everything -- especially things. I was tired of living a life where the only meaningful things were those that I had accumulated in the 100 square feet of my shared room. After reading an article about the overwhelming effects of life in today's world, I was intrigued by the idea of “cleaning out” my life, and began to look for ways to do so.

Understand that your material possessions are the source of your energy.
I revisited the idea of minimalism a couple of months ago as I began to furnish my new apartment, and I realized that minimalism was about more than just getting rid of unnecessary items, but decluttering your life from a physical, spiritual, and mental perspective.

If you don’t need it, you can’t keep it.
The material things we own symbolize our need to express ourselves, our need for acceptance, and our desires. We use these things to create a sense of status and value within our society for ourselves, therefore hindering our inner growth.

Don’t feel like you have to give up your favorite things. You don’t.
Don’t get me wrong -- I’m not getting rid of my sneaker collection. If you knew how many pairs I had, you might actually reconsider my stance on minimalism. But minimalism is different for everyone. In order to decide what things you should keep and get rid of, re-evaluate which things you own actually add value to your life.

Create space. It’ll make you feel better.
Clothes are one of the hardest things to deal with when cleaning out your life. Many of us hold on to pieces, anticipating the day we’ll finally need those highlighter colored pants from five years ago (hopefully, never again). What we don’t use only creates clutter, causing us to not utilize the pieces we do love. I was so guilty of this. My love for fashion pushed me to invest more in storage bins and clothing rods, in an effort to do what I would foolishly call “utilizing space.” But in all honesty, all I was doing was holding on to things.

Your stuff is a goldmine. Get creative and sell, sell, sell.
If you haven’t worn it in the last six months, it’s time to get rid of it. If it’s in season and you haven’t thought about it in two months, call your girlfriends and have a swap party. There’s no need to hold on to pieces that someone else might love. Put on your inner boss hat, sell them, and make that money back on apps like Poshmark. If you really want to feel liberated, give them away to the Salvation Army or the local homeless shelter. This same practice can be applied to the rest of your space. If there’s anything in your home that hasn’t been used in a while, let it go, and watch the Paypal deposits come through from your eBay account.

Create the space you want, to manifest the life you want.
Once you’ve dealt with your living space, you will already begin to feel better. As humans, our environments are a reflection of our internal climate. If your space is chaos, then don’t expect your mind to be any different.

Write it all down. You can’t declutter your life if you don’t declutter your mind.
Those goals that we think about but never truly work towards, or that debt that we continue to contribute to but never create a plan to pay off, all of that weighs on us mentally. I’m not saying that you have to tackle all of your deepest and darkest secrets and concerns immediately. However, it’s important to put your life into perspective. Grab a journal and let those thoughts fly. Journaling has changed my outlook on life significantly. As a child, I kept journals with all of my deepest thoughts. With time, I began to think that “whining” on paper would not solve my problems. Man, was I wrong.

Give yourself time. It’s a process.
You’ve created these habits and this thought process over time, so it’s important that you give yourself time to change it. Keep at it, and before you know it, your life will be full of more meaningful moments, and empty of all the unnecessary baggage we often carry with us. Think easy, and travel lighter.

Photo by: Andrew Dizon