Minimize to Thrive
Have you been following the “minimalist movement”? It seems to be everywhere these days…articles are popping up on my social media, a number of books that deal with this topic are on the New York Time’s best seller list and some of my friends have even dipped their toe in the “minimalist living pond”. For quite some time, the universe has been trying to tell me something...I think;).
A little bit of background…I have a fairly busy life these days. I have 3 kids 3 and under (yes-you read that right! And no multiples!), I have a full-time job and I run Campton Clothing with my (also very busy) sister Meg. Most days, it seems like there isn’t enough time to do it all-in all honesty, there isn’t enough time to get it all done and certainly not in a high quality way. I feel guilty about this often (I’m sure a lot of you can relate), and if I’m not feeling guilty, I am often feeling overwhelmed. I try to focus on “slowing down” some days, other days, I try to multi-task to truly epic levels, but all of it seems to fall a bit short at the end of the day or week. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, and I own my choices and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything…but, I do want to make things more manageable, more meaningful and less…madhouse!
So, I started researching the “minimalist movement” and this included following a few “minimalist” accounts on social media- http://becomingminimilist.com . At first, I found my interest was peaked by some of the quotes and simple tips/tricks posted by these sites. Much of what was being said just made sense…intuitively.
“What I know for sure is that when you declutter-whether it’s on your home, your head, or your heart-it is astounding what will flow into that space that will enrich you, your life and your family” – Peter Walsh.
This idea of decluttering had been popping up in my life for awhile. With my first born, we ended up hiring a cleaning service (did I mention we have a 160 lb dog, with long fur) to help us stay afloat. This helped us have more quality time to spend with the baby, enabled us to feel like we were “keeping up with the clean” and allowed us to devote some of our evening/weekend time to other things besides vacuuming, dusting and window cleaning. 2 kids later, and my house is over-flowing with plastic…plastic toys, plastic containers…and clothes…laundry everywhere. I look at my counter space, and if there is an empty space, that space seems to be filled by an object by the end of the day. I found myself cleaning up in a circle the other day-a literal circle…wherever my kids went, they left a trail of toys…never really staying put for very long, or playing with a certain toy for very long. I was exhausted and flabbergasted…all of these toys, and for what…to create the job of cleaning up?…I have enough jobs already! Don’t get me started on my husband…my very good natured hubby-he comes from a long line of “clutterers”; and what they do, seems to make sense on a practical level. They keep stuff, in case they need it in the future – makes sense right? Well maybe not…according to Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UP, people have anxiety-induced limits of decision-making…clutter that piles up in people’s homes is a product of cognitive blunders.
Here are two examples of these mental fallacies. First, Kondo aptly attacks what he calls the ‘sunk-cost fallacy’. The term ‘sunk cost’ applies to payments (of time and money) that have already occurred and thus can’t be recovered. The money is spent, and an investment has been made; it makes people irrational because it seems a waste to not use something that one has poured resources into. The irrationality of this thinking is that people ignore whether an item they own is still useful to them, and whether they’ll actually use or resell it. The second fallacy is called the ‘status quo bias’; status quo bias means that most of our stuff stays because we can’t think of a good reason to get ride of it. Kondo, turns things around here; for her, the status quo is that every item that you own will be thrown away unless you can think of a compelling reason that it should stay.
So, where do I start? Kondo recommends starting with toys, clothing and even food. Get rid of the plastic trinkets and focus on experiences…kids have so many toys these days, that their lives become cluttered-they don’t even know what toy to play with, and they aren’t developing the attention spans or imaginations to stick with one for very long. Be picky with your clothing, don’t keep things that you don’t wear, don’t fit and are uncomfortable. Think about classic styles and versatility-can I wear this a number of ways? Do my clothes represent who I am? Food-just cut back and eliminate “choice”…by doing this, you actually facilitate decision-making. It becomes easier to eat healthier, meal prep becomes more manageable, picky eaters become less picky.
I have slowly started implementing some of these strategies into my life, and the results have been empowering. I am focusing on only holding onto items that “bring joy” into my life. This means getting rid of the very large electric keyboard we have been hosting downstairs for the past 7 years…no one has ever played it, and it has never brought me a single day of joy! Seeing it at the curbside was glorious! And we watched as a young family, picked it up, big smiles on their faces…hoping it brings them a little bit of joy.
If you are interested in ‘becoming minimalist’ take a look at these 7 ideas to declutter on a busy schedule https://www.becomingminimalist.com/declutter-on-a-busy-schedule/. There is also this tool-kit to help you get started! http://www.simplelivingtoolkit.com
“Happiness doesn’t depend on what we have, but it does depend on how we feel toward what we have. We can be happy with little and miserable with much”