Becoming a minimalist has been one of the best things I’ve done in my life to date, I have more space, my creativity has gone through the roof, and I’m generally less stressed.
But it hasn’t always been easy. It’s a long journey for some people and can take its toll, which is acceptable considering it is a lifestyle change. Also, I should mention, it’s not for everybody.
When I decided I was going to become a minimalist, I expected it to be easy, you know, just chuck out a few items and clean a bit. Soon did I realize that there’s a lot more involved than that, and of course you can make this lifestyle change to whatever extent you please, but when I get going with something, I need to take it all the way, and I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there like that.
I want to draw emphasis to the point being that it’s a lifestyle change. A lifestyle change can be small or big, one of the most common would be giving up smoking.
As far as I know, most people don’t give up smoking overnight, I’ll guarantee that most people won’t become a minimalist overnight either.
I’m not trying to compare the difficulty of the two lifestyle changes (I’ve never smoked in my life, but from what I’ve heard it’s extremely hard to give up), I’m merely trying to give you an idea of the time it may take to make this change.
The thing with lifestyle changes, is that they’re a major effort. As mentioned above, they take time (considering the type of change), and they take a huge amount of commitment.
Losing weight could be another example other than giving up smoking. Losing weight is a 24/7 constant thought process, you have to constantly think about eating the right types of foods, making sure you exercise enough, drink enough water, all this while watching your weight.
Enough of that, because you know what? It gets easier as time goes on.
Yes, it does get easier as time goes on. The hardest part is starting, of course. As well as the length of time it takes to become a minimalist (I’m generalizing here, some people may do it in a week), there’s an emotional aspect involved.
One of the hardest things to do is getting rid of meaningful, but useless items. This could be anything from some ugly jewelry or a collection of photos that have been lying in a drawer for the past 3 years. I’m not saying it’s wrong to keep stuff for memory, it’s a great thing to do, I’m more leaning towards the meaningful items that cause you to be upset. Whatever it is, emotions will come into play when you try to get rid of it, and it’s important to understand how unnecessary X item is and how it will benefit you from removing it from your life. A common example would be a photo of someone with their ex-partner, which causes them to be upset.
Another point to cover is the fact that becoming a minimalist changes your view on a lot of things and alters your opinions. This can definitely be a good thing, and I believe it is in the long run, but it can cause you to think very negatively.
Walking into a cluttered shop or office, house – you’ll be aware of the mess, and the best way to respond is to be thankful that you’re not as cluttered as that person, or your place isn’t as cluttered as theirs. The worst thing to do is act on it and confront the person about their apparent bad living habit (remember there’s nothing wrong with being messy, there’s just generally more benefits that come with being clean and having less).
Please, don’t think less of any person, after all, minimalism is a choice.
Moving on from that last paragraph – minimalism is definitely not for everyone, and although I believe almost everyone can learn almost anything, there’s always exceptions, and reasons for those exceptions. When I was younger, I used to take guitar lessons from a reputable musician. I’d travel to his house every week and he’d teach me what I wanted to know.
Looking back, I remember his house being rather cluttered, at the time I didn’t care, but I thought about how it might benefit his creativity. The more comfortable you feel in an environment, the more creative you’re likely to be, and if that involves having clutter around you, then so be it.
It also helps if you don’t give a crap about your surroundings and can focus on your creative task. It’s also in some people’s nature to hoard items and be unorganized and messy.
Don’t be discouraged by finding it hard if you’re trying to become a minimalist though, if you discover at some point that you simply don’t see any purpose in making the lifestyle change, then reconsider your motives and decide if you want to go through with it or not.
One of the hardest things I found about making this lifestyle change is the difficulty of being decisive and discerning, this is something that comes with practice. Making instant decisions and completely disposing of items can be a difficult thing to do.
Example – Selling an instrument that you rarely play, but have invested both time and money into learning how to play it initially. This is a scenario where it may be hard to make a straight cut decision, and it shouldn’t be instant either (minimalism isn’t about making decisions without prior thought). An easy way to help make a decision is to try and justify it, and in this case, you could say that the instrument would get more use in someone else’s hands.
We all know that it takes time to free up time. Getting rid of clutter will require extra work, you’ll also be constantly thinking about what to improve. Although in this article I’ve focused on why minimalism is hard, I still think it’s well worth it to consider the lifestyle change. After getting through the thick swamp it’ll be an easy road afterward, you’ll have far more time, fewer things to worry about, you’ll feel better, and your home will be cleaner and nicer looking.
Are you a minimalist? Are you thinking of becoming one?
Leave a comment below with some of your thoughts!