Minimalism, Stuff, Letting Go, and Joy

Back in April 2015 I mentioned Marie Kondo in my newsletter (you can subscribe here, it’s free!), but never really talked about how I’ve embraced the KonMari method and some aspects of minimalism in my own life.

Marie Kondo talks a lot about organization as part of her method, but I’ve for the most part considered myself to be pretty organized, so I don’t fold clothes any differently now. It’s the letting go which comes hard to me — letting go of gifts which I don’t use or appreciate, items I’ve outgrown, items I’ve never fully enjoyed, and items I shouldn’t have bought in the first place. The space that those objects occupy in my life is at the very least clutter, and definitely “mind trash” in other ways (love this phrase).

If we hang onto the “shoulds” of why you have to keep something, you end up carrying around those items and their weight in guilt. The items themselves and the reasons or guilt about why you “can’t” get rid of them weighs on you heavier than those you let go of. That’s why I enjoyed her concept of keeping items which “spark joy” — read more on how to recognize what sparks joy here, it’s not just about pure pleasure you receive from an item, sometimes it’s comfort and functionality — and using that as a guide to help recognize what to let go.

Some people hate minimalism – in fact this article calls it “Minimalism: another boring product wealthy people can buy,” and while the author compares two extremes on the spectrum because it makes her case more valid — the affluent who can purchase fewer but more expensive items vs. the poor who have no choice what they can afford or can fill their homes with — the reality is the vast middle is where most people fit in when it comes to their relationship with their possessions. The consumerism which leads us to acquire things with our (modest or otherwise) disposable incomes and then keep them forever because they’re things we now own has its own weight on our lives.

So I’m not a staunch advocate of minimalism even though I’ve pared down my belongings through a few moves in recent times. I still have a ton of stuff and I think the key principle I’m embracing about minimalism into my life is: if some thing doesn’t belong in your life for whatever reason, let it go. 

I love cooking and I continue to make my kitchen items something I bring with me and they add value to my life. I’ve also cut down considerably on buying new clothes, mostly by recognizing what I already had and using more of a mix between a capsule wardrobe (wearing a limited amount of pieces per season, and this is definitely reflected in How I Travel) and a uniform approach (wearing the same combo / types of clothes), since working from home and attending a few special events means I don’t need a ton of variety in my closet.

If you’re interested in learning even more about minimalism, The Minimalists documentary features most of the more outspoken sites and writers talking about minimalism, though if you’re already read up on some of this, you won’t learn anything new in the documentary. Here’s trailer for The Minimalists – it’s on Netflix and Amazon, as well as a few other locations.

What are your thoughts on minimalism? 

Categories: Productivity, Self & Finance

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1 reply »

  1. I have an aversion to Marie Kondo because I think her method excludes any parent of small children. If you’ve got littles running around, good luck on minimalism. Even if you don’t buy things for them, everyone else does. :-p That being said, my frequent purge sessions of the clutter in our three-child home is one of the things that makes me feel most psychologically light once it’s over. Super cathartic.

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