I am an ever aspiring minimalist. I read the blogs and and make a cognitive effort to choose less excess and more meaning. I have not directly spoken to this in previous blogs but most people that know me, know this about me. Everyone may experience it differently and in telling my story I hope it can be helpful to some of the decisions you make going forward!
So when did this start for me? I have always felt very uncomfortable with clutter as it definitely adds to my anxiety. When I was a student I walked passed a coffee shop with a sign outside that immediately made me pause -
"You can't have what you want until you want what you have" - K. Sutton
It was a profound moment for me personally. I immediately understood its meaning and believed it at a core level. So what did it mean to me? It reminded me of a truth - if you keep wanting and pursuing something bigger and newer, you loose sight of what you already have and it can leave you dissatisfied, because like a mirage, the goal is always moving - there will always be the next best thing. It ties in with the practice of gratitude. There are many studies on happiness that have investigated what makes people live more happily, gratitude is at the top. I think it has become more obvious that more, bigger and "better" stuff, in itself, does not bring real happiness. Does this mean I don't believe it is good to be ambitious? Absolutely not. It is such a great quality, it is how we move forward in this life, grow and improve. I just often consider that ambition can be misused and focused in a direction that can ultimately cause us more harm than good. Case in point - wanting a specific job, position, object or financial gain at all costs can often cost you all and leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled.
Each of us needs to assess what brings us joy, because for each of us it will likely be different. I still always re-assess that question as it also evolves with time. It is not the same for two people and not the same for the same person at different periods of life. Some things will likely be constant but others will evolve. For me, spring cleaning - or the practice of minimalism is not just a physical action, it is also an emotional and psychological one. Minimalism at its core is the practice of removing the barriers and "things" that distract us from what really matters to each of us, to make space for what brings us real joy.
What do I practice? My beginning started with me re-looking at what I already had. Finding gratitude with the relationships, places and situations that brought me joy and slowly separating myself from the things that did not. This was not in opposition to some relationships but simply a parting of ways with unhealthy circumstances. I realized that I found myself in circumstances simply out of a fear of change, mostly because I became comfortable with routine or some relationships.
As I have grown older I have expanded on that. When Marie Kondo's methods became famous I could fully relate to her practice of finding what "sparked joy" and letting go of what did not. In the simplest terms, start with what you get positively excited about, what makes you feel comfortable and at peace. You know what I mean. The dinner/visit/trip, for instance, that you look forward too - do more of that. Those things you dread, that feel like they empty your "cup", do only what you must - taking care to re-evaluate why you must and what you can change. You will find that others can feel your joy when you do what you love and it feeds a positive loop. You will also find that by spending less time on activities that empty you or cleaning/sorting through clutter, literally and figuratively, will leave you feeling more free to do all the good stuff. This is what minimalism is to me, in summary.
"Minimalism is not about removing the things you love - it's about removing the things that distract you from the things you love" - Joshua Becker
So, what are my tips to spring cleaning Inside and Out:
Love your body as it is today, never take it for granted. Remove your negative self talk and add positive affirmations.
Starting paying attention to how you feel about things, places and relationships
The things that make you feel bad/inadequate (an item of clothing that you never feel your best in for instance), set aside for someone else who may appreciate it, the things you don't use that take up space - sell or donate.
You will be surprised how little you really need in terms of things. We need a lot less than we think. Think about and start letting go of the things that don't matter. Don't be tempted to get more - attention and money costs time, time is precious. Where would you rather spend your time? Money may be needed but evaluating its worth in time is more important than you realize.
The places that increase you anxiety, re-evaluate why you go, and make a change
Re-evaluate relationships that bring you down. This is a tough one. What exactly brings you down?, can you make a change with loosing the relationship? Why are you in that relationship? You cannot always change the nature of a relationship, but you have control of how you let it affect or control your behavior. Sometimes you need professional help, sometimes you need a good friend to talk to. Sometimes you just have to let it go, a quiet no drama exit is always preferred, but sometimes you need more closure. Be kind to yourself and others, it will always be unproductive to be hurtful to someone and you will usually just end up hurting yourself. Never rush a big or serious decision and ask for help when you need.
Take life more slowly. Give yourself plenty of time for tasks, put yourself at the top of you to-do list each day - making time to take care of yourself first as you are no good to your loved ones at half capacity.
Savor the good stuff. Be present in those moments of bliss. Share your gratitude for the relationships and actions that bring joy - don't take for granted that it is known.
Feed the positive loops, by saying to your friend or partner what you appreciate in them or there actions, they will almost always want to do more. Positive re-enforcement and affirmations is an incredibly powerful tool and healthy relationships.
This is a personal journey of growth and fulfillment. It will evolve as I evolve and continue to try live presently and gratefully. It has helped us as a family and I hope it can motivate you to always find your joy in life.