getting your head around minimalism

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There have been quite a few people who have shown cautious interest in attempting the minimalist ‘thing’ since my post on Sunday, my minimalist challenge. And the absolute unquestionable truth about it, is that it WILL be difficult. That is in fact the nature of a challenge. However in the case of letting go of ‘stuff’, there are a whole truckload of reasons as to why it’s so tough for some people.

In Buddhist philosophy it says that attachment is the source of all pain. That’s always blindingly obvious when someone we love passes away or perhaps becomes sick, threatening the status quo of how we like everyone to BE in our lives. But in the case of possessions, attachment can be just as great. Just think about it the next time your child smashes something you love, or when something you love is lost or broken.

On a recent trip to Bali, a necklace which my partner chose and surprised me with a few birthdays ago, broke. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I was really upset. It can be repaired of course, but that necklace represented something really powerful to me. It was the very first really special and super personal gift that he had chosen on his own, and it was absolutely perfect. Every time I wore it, someone would comment on it, and I would feel myself glow with pride as I told them that he had chosen it himself. Well that’s attachment. Powerful emotional attachment to an object which cannot possibly represent a partner’s love, but somehow in my head it did.

Wow, imagine if you have to go through that sort of analysis with every object when you start the minimalist game. I guess the criteria needs to be along the lines of;

1. Is this ‘thing’ genuinely useful to me now, or in the foreseeable future?
2. Is it ‘something’ that I really love?
Or 3. Does this ‘something’ bring a sense of joy to my life? (or alternatively does it fill my space and makes me feel burdened?)

If the item doesn’t fit any of those criteria or it’s a burden, then there is a pretty good chance that it shouldn’t stay in your space. I do think it’s important to say that all options for recycling or transferring that item to a home where it will be useful should be explored. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure after all, and I guess as you become a minimalist you can’t concern yourself too much with the hoarders out there who are snapping up your stuff from the verge. That’s a whole new topic!!

So if you are toying with the notion of cleansing your space, and you feel a bit overwhelmed, start by asking yourself why? Then just pick one thing. Minimalism is a feeling, and it’s a really positive one.

Linked with EssentiallyJess for IBOT

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8 thoughts on “getting your head around minimalism

  1. Thank you Michelle. I was having trouble with the idea of “going the whole hog” on this but now that it can be one thing at a time it’s more doable. I didn’t think I had that much stuff but like most of us, I guess I do.

  2. Yay! Thanks Michelle for joining the minimalism chat! No pressure I promise!! I am just going to go day by day without thinking about the next day. I started doing the maths and freaked myself out a bit. But this isn’t about freaking people out, it’s about clearing out unwanted stuff which clutters up life. If you are feeling great by the 5th of June then you have achieved your goal!!!

  3. This is a great initiative, Michelle, although I’m probably not organised enough to rise to the challenge. I like the idea of minimalism and respect Buddhism lots. I recall my son breaking a treasured vase (mother’s wedding present) as he did the ‘table cloth trick’ (pulling the cloth off, with said vase and flowers on it). It took a LOT of Zen not to become irate – he was tiny after all – and ‘let it go’.

    BTW, does making regular trips to Vinnies with bags of old clothes count in your challenge? (I get rid of clothes if I haven’t worn them in a season). 🙂

  4. Absolutely Lee-Anne! I intend to start with clothes. It’s as good a place as any, and as I commented above, no pressure! I’m doing it for me. Feel free to join me and do a little or a lot and see how you feel.

  5. This was really interesting.
    We’ve just moved so we had to get rid of a lot. Something’s were easy, some were really hard. And yet having less stuff at the other bed is incredibly liberating.

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