HOW TO LIVE WITH LESS IN A WORLD OF EXCESS
I’ve written a few blog posts thus far about how I suck at minimalism [read here] and why I decided to purge my wardrobe [read here], but I have yet to get into the how of this process. I’m going to preface this as I would preface all my “minimalism” posts by saying that I am not good at it. My apartment is still full of things I can’t bring myself to throw out or donate just yet, but I am getting better and that’s what matters to me the most. I think it’s important to understand that minimalism will look different to everyone and that it is very hard to change your mindset with the snap of a finger. Many of us (especially me) have been raised to preserve everything we can so as to not waste money or be stuck if we don’t have it in the future.
For the majority of the past two years I have been buying things that I don’t need or even really like because a) I’ve fallen victim to advertising and b) haven’t really enjoyed the job I was (still) working in and felt that I needed to buy things to justify why I was still working there. I wanted to dedicate today’s post to the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ of this process while getting into a bit of how I have changed in the few months that I’ve been practicing minimalism.
HOW TO THINK
Changing your mindset is the first step to changing your life, in my opinion. If you are constantly insisting that things have to be a certain way then it’ll be very difficult to change the way things actually are. When it comes to living with less, it’s vital that you start to ask yourself “what do I need?”. Once that question is in the foreground of your thinking, driving the way you interact with your belongings, then it becomes easier to weed out the things you don’t need. Typically something stored in the back of the closet or deep in a dresser drawer to be used “someday” rather than actually being used every day or at least regularly.
I used to always do this with clothes. I would buy something that I may not completely love and shove it in my closet or dresser thinking (or hoping) that someday it would be my favourite item. Maybe it just didn’t fit the right way and I would conclude that I’d have to lose a few pounds or magically my legs would grow an inch and then it would look perfect on me. But that's not how life works and it’s too short to be thinking about ‘what-ifs’ or ‘maybes’. If buying something a size smaller is motivation to get to a certain weight, then that is a bit different. What I’m talking about is the abstract thought that you might one day change your mind about something you don’t really like to begin with.
From there you begin to notice things that have been in your life for years, but have never given you value. I was holding on to a few pairs of socks that had cute designs on them but I never wore because I didn’t like the way they felt. One day I realized that there was no point to that. They were just taking up the space for socks I actually did wear and always left me annoyed that my drawer was overflowing.
WHAT TO DO
Once you’ve changed your mentality toward your belongings, you can begin letting go. My method was to go through all my clothes and makeup items, try them on/apply them and decide then if they were worth being there. Most of them weren’t (as I’d suspected), so I put them into bags and bins for donation/the trash. Makeup was easy to get rid of because if a shade of lipstick didn’t look good on me now, it wouldn’t later down the line. However, getting rid of the clothes was a bit harder because not only did I pack away items that didn’t fit me right, but also items I hadn’t used in a long time. I decided to give myself some leeway with these. Instead of getting rid of them all that day, I kept the bags in my bedroom to see if maybe I’d end up actually going back to some of the items.
As the days went on I found myself peeking in there for some things that I actually found value in and even ended up putting some items I thought I wanted to keep at first in the bags. I think this is the best way for someone to start off purging their belongings because it’s not such a shock to the system. You are able to take your time and really consider how you feel about the things you own.
I am happy to say that most of what I decided to get rid of initially is still going to be donated. Every day I try to look around my apartment and see what else I have that may not be worth the space it is taking up and every day I feel that much lighter.
How would you begin your minimalist process?