A Simple Approach to Living With Less

The Magnetic Appeal of Minimalism

What is it that draws you towards minimalism? Is it a desire for more time in your life? Is it a yearning to be free of clutter? Is it just a sense of knowing there must be more in this life than you’re experiencing right now? It could be some or a combination of these things.

For me, I didn’t even know what minimalism was until recently. I simply knew that my life was cluttered, I was always cleaning the same messes, and I’d been living with boxes of stuff around me that I didn’t even care to open. I knew I didn’t like living like this and I would periodically try to organize my life and the clutter. As a mom, I had the added challenge of my children coming behind me and adding to the chaos. Life just always had a way of getting messy all over again and I’d feel like I never made any real progress.

Honestly, I think I was looking for minimalism before I even knew it existed. As soon as I learned what minimalism was and that there was an alternative to how I’d been living, I felt like a powerful magnet was pulling me toward it. I had been yearning for a tangible way to change and minimalism is now bringing me the freedom I was looking for.

The greatest thing about minimalism is that it can mean different things to different people. It will likely mean one thing to a young, single person and something else entirely to someone who is married with a family. You are free to build your own personal framework of what minimalism means to you on the same foundation that other minimalists have in common with you.

I’m so excited about the sense of freedom I’m beginning to feel with minimalism that I can’t help telling everyone about it. I’m sure I’m driving my family and friends nuts with my enthusiasm, but I just want everyone to see the possibilities it can offer.

I don’t have a single friend that isn’t tired all the time. It’s like an epidemic these days of being exhausted with life and all we’ve managed to cram into it. We’ve crammed it full of stuff and activities so much that we don’t ever experience stillness. I am thrilled that minimalism is opening up pockets of time that I missed out on before and adjusting my priorities is teaching me not to fill them back up.

At the start of my journey, I spent a few minutes writing myself a note entitled “Why Do I Want to Do This?” It was a really good exercise for me to articulate the reasons why I chose minimalism beyond just the short-term goals of decluttering our house. I go back and read it a lot. It’s an encouraging reminder for me. If you’ve never really considered why you’re drawn towards minimalism, I encourage you to do this today.

Reasons to Define the Appeal of Minimalism:

  1. Avoid the temptation to give in to clutter. There are simply some days when the mess threatens to take over and it just seems easier to give in than to fight. Remind yourself why you choose to win.
  2. Know your convictions so you can share them with others. It’s a great message to share and I truly believe it can help people and their families. But if I can’t explain what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, then people just tune out.
  3. It’s an important step to defining your priorities. Minimalism is so much more than just decluttering your house. By listing the principles that motivate you, you’re one step closer to prioritizing the rest of your life.
  4. You’ll be thrilled looking back at your progress. It’s a truly awesome experience to be reminded of how things were and then be able to see how much progress you’re making. It’s a great motivator.

Whether it’s new to you or not, I’d love to hear what drew you to minimalism in the comments of today’s post.

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Article originally published on 10/04/2010

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Comments

  1. Hi Faith,

    So happy to have stumbled on your site. I am new to minimalism as well, but it has completely changed my perspective. The more I read, the more I know that I want MORE of minimalism in my life. It is freedom from clutter, but also simplifying my life so I can spend more time with my husband and our beautiful baby girl. My life is cluttered because of all the hats I wear — mom, wife, full-time employee, part-time Ph.D. student…lots of things going on always — but also because of too much stuff. Minimalism just makes sense to me. As soon as I learned about, I started decluttering. I have a LOOOOONG way to go — but I feel a sense of hope. Most importantly, I am beginning to reclaim an inner peace that I lost in the chaos of life.

    • Faith Janes says:

      Thanks for reading, Clara. I totally identify with the wearing many hats. It definitely adds to the challenge. As I told my husband last night, even baby steps are steps in the right direction. Best of luck on your journey to reclaim that inner peace.

  2. Karen (Scotland) says:

    Hmm, I think minimalism is maybe still too “strict” a term for me to use about myself, even allowing for a wide definition. I think I am maybe still at just a “simplifying” stage.

    I think what draws me is that I just want to be less busy with “stuff”…
    Physical stuff – constant tidying of the same items; moving things from one place to another. Then back again.
    Mental stuff – cluttered thoughts and lines of thoughts that don’t reach conclusions; inability to make final decisions because there are too many factors.
    Emotional stuff – carrying worries over people I can’t help or no longer care to know

    I want to be able to sit with my children and husband and not be constantly subconsciously distracted by what is still going on in my head and by what is around me (if that is ever possible for a mum/wife/homemaker!). Life with four small kids is busy enough without allowing other stuff to clutter up my space, time, thoughts and direction.

    So, in conclusion – the search for peace and time is what motivates me.
    Karen

    • Faith Janes says:

      I love that you mentioned the emotional and mental stuff too. It’s easier to just focus on the physical clutter surrounding us, but that’s just part of the picture isn’t it?

      Search for peace and time are my main motivators as well. Whatever term you use, “simplifying” or “minimalism”, making the effort to have less distractions and more of what matters is the important thing to remember.

    • Mikala (Australia) says:

      The thing that drew me to minimalism was that I have gone through a huge mental and emotional transformation the past 12 months yet whenever at home, tired and alone I still felt drawn back into the same negative thought patterns.

      I started decluttering and guess what – I must have been storing those thought patterns somewhere amongst my dusty ornaments because my surfaces are now all clear and so are my thoughts!

  3. Hi Faith!
    Just as with anything, it is good to know why you stand for what you do. Defining what minimalism means to you will help you make decisions wisely in the future.
    My reasons are many but the first few that come to mind are less things to be responsible for and more freedom to do the things I want to do.
    Great post!
    Bernice
    http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/is-it-time-to-change-for-a-change/

    • Faith Janes says:

      Freedom is a wonderful thing. I’m looking forward to the day when I can just say “Well there’s nothing we really need to do this weekend…let’s go camping” (or something else fun and spontaneous). That day is coming and I can’t wait!

  4. Minimalism has been on this Nana’s mind for many years. When I was in the mothering phase, it was all about declutter and organization. It worked for a long time. But lately with more health problems and grandkids I’m realizing minimalism is a priority. I’m so thankful I’ve “stumbled” on your blog. You give me hope and encouragement I can do it. Thank you

  5. I can so identify with children bringing all their things along, clothes, toys, etc. I didn’t know about the term minimalist either until recently, but found out it fit so well into what I was feeling in my mind and spirit.
    My main reason for scaling back on belongings is to simply have more time to do things I enjoy doing, instead of fighting the losing battle to keep up with all the things I have around to take care of and put in place. i discovered that I spent a lot of time picking up toys, or urging my children to do it. So now we have a box in the closet. If they bring too many toys out, they simply get put in the closet again. Small toys of the same kind are kept in storage containers, then they need bring only one thing out at a time. Our house is not clutter free, but baby steps are being taken toward that end!
    Less knic-knacs setting around means less time spent in dusting. I’m still working on that one! Putting all laundry away as soon as it’s dry is another one I’m working toward. So time consuming to dig through the basket because you didn’t take time to put it away in the first place!
    I’m always open to new short cuts, so keep them coming!

  6. A short while ago I read about minimalism, not for the first time.
    But this time, I felt I was remembering something I’ve known my whole life, but had somehow forgotten.
    The work is slow, the prize is peace of mind.

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