As you grow older and go through different phases in life, you are constantly having lifestyle changes. At least that is how it has been for me. The older I grow, the more I become aware of different areas in my life that could improve, thus a lifestyle change. The most recent is embracing minimalism. And this has been by far the biggest lifestyle change I have ever made and I love it more because it reinforces most changes I have been making in my life before I got here.
So, what is minimalism?
In simple words, it’s simply sticking to what adds value. Discard the rest. It’s basically a life that leads towards contentment and making decisions more consciously.
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it. – Becker
Reading about it on blogs and watching YouTube videos, there are different versions and interpretations of it and different reasons behind the choice of the lifestyle.
With every lifestyle, there are extremists too and minimalism is no different.
I had too much stuff. I always knew I had too much stuff, but I got to feel the real effect when I travelled to the States. Since I was going for a couple of months, I decided to carry almost all of my clothes, and other just in case items. If you own a lot of things, you are also attached to them, reason why I packed so heavily. During my trip, I moved between states and I was alone so I had to carry my own luggage. It was at this point that I asked myself why I had so much stuff. I was killing myself for nothing. I legit did not wear half of the clothes I carried or the extra just in case products I had. So, when I left DC for New York, I left half of my suitcase behind.
When I came back to Kenya I began seeing how much stuff I was holding on to that I wasn’t using, yet I had plans of buying even more stuff. I also looked at how I had been living and I was one hell of a consumer. I could see thousands of shillings just sitting there, hadn’t been touched in a while, wasted, and I was on the road to waste more. That’s where it all changed.
Initially it was all about financial change but it did not take me long to decide to apply these principles in other areas of my life.
Top reasons why I chose minimalism are:
- Eliminate discontent
- Live simply
- Focus on the important
- Save money
So what has changed since I began living by these principles?
I stopped looking at how many things I own.
Our focus has for so long been on a particular process. Get good grades, get a good job, get a good house, get married, live a good life. That’s how success has been defined for many and that’s what thousands of people live according to, consciously or unconsciously. Before I left the country, I had just moved into my own house, and I held back furnishing the apartment until I got back, and I am glad this happened. I had plans of moving to a new two bedroom house, because I felt I needed an extra room as an office work space (I’m a software developer) or a work out space, or a library, or something.
Nobody really believes happiness is directly tied to the number of things we own. Yet almost all of us live like it – Becker
Looking at it now, I am very much open to living in a studio apartment. I don’t need a TV, I have my laptop. I don’t need five couches, I am not going to be throwing parties every day or hosting 5 people every week. I don’t need 20 different pair of shoes, I lived with just three for a month and nothing special happened.
2. Do I need this?
Impulse buying has been a struggle for a while. I’d get on Jumia and before I know it I have ordered something I probably don’t need just because it looked cute. Same scenario as hanging around a mall.
Minimalism is about intentionality, not deprivation
I currently only buy if I really really need it. When I am attracted to something, I take 24hrs to think about if I really need it, most times I don’t. This has reduced the amount of things I buy to keep around for those just in case moments (which never happen btw) and therefore save some money and reduce clutter.
You don’t need more space, you need less stuff.
After seeing the benefits of decluttering and focusing my time on things that matter, I moved these principles to what I eat. Still a struggle, but I eat less junk and sugar and more fruits and vegetables and drink more water. And of course this inevitably led to working out, and working out led to yoga for stretches and with yoga I can see the positive effects in my mental health.
4. Experience and relationships over things.
I direct my focus more on family and friends. I focus more on building those since they matter over things and are more fulfilling. And even as I focus on these, I choose those relationships that are healthy and add value, keeping the toxic away.
Simplicity. Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.
Because of adopting this lifestyle of less, I lean towards experience than things. I’d consider gifting someone an experience rather than a thing as that lasts longer. I am saving towards traveling more to experience the world even more to learn more and hold on to these rather than things.
Fill your life with lots of experiences, not lots of things. Have incredible stories to tell, not incredible clutter in your closet.
As you can see, minimalism is a life that is made up of principles that have been there for a long time. They aren’t new. I just took too long to fully adopt them 🙂