I used to think minimalism was just a hipster trend that meant owning only two outfits, a natural gas car (or better yet, a bike!) and a tiny house in the woods.
Although the word itself has become a trendy buzzword, minimalism means so much more than that.
To me, it’s about creating the life you want. It’s being intentional about the things, people, and responsibilities you invite into your life in order to create the one that makes you happy.
As our family has grown and our free time has diminished, I’ve slowly started to learn the importance of letting go of the things in my life that aren’t adding value to it. Here are some things we’re letting go of as a family to create the life we want:
- Stuff. I love getting rid of things. It’s liberating. I could spend days on end going through things and decluttering and organizing. If my kids haven’t played with a toy within a few months, it’s out. If I haven’t worn something in a year? Bye bye. Studies show that the amount of clutter in a woman’s home is directly related to her stress level, and I’m a believer.
- Unnecessary obligations. As I talked about in my interview with my dear friend Monica on About Progress, sometimes we feel the obligation to say yes to or do something because we have the capability to. I’m learning that saying no to something means I can say yes to something more important.
- Worry. Like Dan Harris of 10% Happier says, there’s a difference between constructive anguish and useless rumination. I’m trying to stop working myself into an anxiety attack over things that are out of control (did I say the wrong thing at that party? What does she think of me? Are my kids going to survive?) and make more room for contentedness.
- Slavery to technology. I just watched (and loved) Minimalism on Netflix, and I was staggered by the statistic that the average American checks his/her phone 150 times a day. I remember before I got my iPhone and all my friends had them, I held out for a long time and held on to my old school flip phone because I saw how glued people were to their smartphone screens. Once I got mine, I became the same way. The technology balance will always be an ongoing struggle for me, but I am learning how to set limits for myself and my kids, and it’s having an incredible affect on our temperaments and relationships. I’ve got a whole post up my sleeve on this one.
- The “I’ll be happy when…” mindset. Traveling regularly and moving to a cottage in the English countryside is incredibly enticing to me. The escapism from the mundane but chaotic day-to-day gets me. And the starting over sounds so good. Think of the new habits we could form! We will always make it a point to travel as a family because it’s something we deeply value. But we are learning not to depend on our next trip or our chance to have an overseas adventure for our happiness, and to instead to find adventure and contentment where we are. For me, part of the draw of living somewhere else is to escape some of the expectations I feel are more prevalent in the culture where I live. So I am trying to figure out how to feel OK being myself and making decisions without worrying about what people will think. I’m trying to find adventure in my daily life with my kids instead of compartmentalizing adventure to be saved for pre-planned getaways. I’m trying to lessen the time we spend with the TV, the tablets and the iPhones and make more moments together.
What do you do to create the life you want with where you are and what you have?