I jumped on the minimalist bandwagon this past winter. I suspect it was because I was stuck inside, puttering around my place for too many days while Boston had a record-breaking amount of snow. I realized that we had a lot of stuff that we did not need, use, or even really like. A friend of mine has another theory. She thinks that since I was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, I have had a minimalist approach to how I eat and that thinking diffused into other parts of my life, including my home and possessions.
What is minimalism?
According to the dictionary, minimalism is a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.
According to my two favorite minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, the duo that make up The Minimalists, minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
According to me, it is a way to remove the things I do not use and to focus on what is important to me in order to simplify life, remove frustration, and increase a sense of calm and peace.
Some of the principles of minimalism:
- Remove the things that you do not truly want or use.
- Do not add things that you do not truly want or use.
- Do not hold on to things because of guilt or obligation, including gifts.
In terms of my home, I started with my closet and got rid of the clothes I had not worn in years, the clothes that used to fit and I secretly hoped would fit again but still didn’t, and clothes I wore once and never seemed to put on again. I moved on to our coat, linen, supply closets, drawers, dressers and kitchen. My husband even allowed me to rummage through his stuff too (with veto rights). After I went through everything and we gave our stuff away to friends and dropped things off at Goodwill, our place started to feel exactly as I hoped it would. And after months of decluttering, I can say our home feels great. I am able to find what I need more easily, I get ready in the morning more calmly, everything is organized and in its place, and overall I feel more at peace.
As my friend noted, in many ways the approach I have to our possessions is the same approach I have to food. Focusing on fresh and natural ingredients lends itself to a less cluttered kitchen and a healthier lifestyle. The foods I buy, cook, and eat are those that I enjoy, are good for me, and do not make me sick. When I eat well, my body feels better, my clothes fit better without the bloat, and I feel calmer and less frustrated.
My kitchen cabinets are organized, everything is easily accessible, and it is filled with foods I want and are healthy like nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, olive oil, and spices. You will find very few, if any, processed foods and those that are have ingredients I can easily pronounce and spell by heart. I removed the prepared foods and bags of snacks including those I held onto because one day…I might eat it, just the same way I thought about the clothes in my closet. This included a box of gluten free stuffing I purchased because it was wheat free but I did not take into account when I bought it that I actually do not like stuffing. My freezer looks almost empty compared to what it used to look like. I have ice, frozen blueberries and peas, baked oatmeal cups, and some leftovers. Gone are the frozen pre-packaged foods, frozen burgers, frozen [fill in the blank] that will be good to have one night when I am not in the mood to cook and then two years later it is still not eaten. My fridge and counters are supplied with fresh fruit and vegetables bought at the farmer’s market or if possible organic produce grown in New England from the grocery store. Since they can go bad quickly, I buy what I need and cook it within a couple of days so it tastes as fresh as possible and does not get wasted.
For the minimalistic approach to possessions, you do not have to get rid of everything, but you should first ask yourself the questions, “Do I need it? Will I use it? Do I love it?” The same with foods–I do not feel like I need to be strict and never have a treat anymore. I try more often that not to buy and eat healthy and I ask myself the questions do I need it, will I cook it, and do I enjoy it. This is why alongside the produce, quinoa, and oats in my kitchen, there is light cream in my fridge because having a cup of coffee with cream is how I love to wake up. And I will eat chocolate and ice cream at times, although rarely because it bothers my stomach, and yes I will have a glass of wine or bourbon which are my two favorite alcoholic drinks.
There are many different ways to be a minimalist. I think that I have taken a mild slightly leaning towards medium approach to minimalism and as a result, it has provided me with many benefits, including how I eat.
What are your thoughts on minimalism?
Photo taken by Martin on Flickr