It’s been two years since I officially adopted the minimalist lifestyle. I haven’t been able to document everything that has happened here on my blog, but I can say that I’ve made several changes in the past 24 months. Here are some of them:
1. I no longer have so much stuff
Most minimalists will agree that the minimalism lifestyle isn’t just about counting your stuff and owning as few things as possible. However, it’s also not possible to adopt minimalism principles and not pare down your things in the process. I believe that minimalism and decluttering come in hand in hand: as you begin to understand the pitfalls of consumerism, you inevitably want to get rid of unnecessary stuff to make room for the necessary things — which are not things at all (as Ryan and JFM point out).
So, today, I own only the things that fulfill my needs and/or give me joy. I have minimized my book collection from more than 200 books down to just 16 (although I do have a lot of ebooks). I went through my old toys, stuffed animals, and unused art supplies and gave them to my young nephews and nieces. I got rid of old diaries, letters, and other mementos that I’ve been hanging on to but no longer really want. I sorted through various work-related documents, threw away those that aren’t really important, and neatly arranged the remaining papers in a new plastic envelope. I’ve curated most of my clothes and, although they’re not new or stylish and I still don’t look like a fashion model, I can now open my closet, grab something, and know that it fits me well.
Right now, what I’m working on is convincing my mom to start letting go of her unnecessary stuff. It’s not easy because 1) she thinks everything is necessary and 2) she freaks out when I try to declutter her things. But it’s okay; life is a work in progress, and there’s no need to rush.
2. I’ve developed better relationships
Since I’m now working at home, it’s easier for me to be selective about my relationships. I no longer keep friends because of convenience; rather, I keep those who have the same values and beliefs as I do. My friends and I don’t see each other every day, but we do try to meet up at least a few times a year.
I’ve also joined a Facebook group called Minimalist.org: Online City Public Group. It’s composed of people who have decided to adopt minimalism principles and are at different stages of the minimalism journey (some are still starting out, while others have been practicing the lifestyle for years). What I love about the group is that most members are not judgmental; they know that minimalism means different things to everyone and that there’s no right or wrong approach to it. Because of this, the group provides unconditional support to all the members, and everyone encourages each other to be the best version of themselves.
3. I’ve learned to use Facebook wisely
I mentioned in a previous post that I had quit Facebook. A few months after I uploaded the post, I signed back on to the social network because I realized that most of my friends used it communicate with me. I also had to have an account to join Minimalists.org and interact with fellow minimalists all over the world.
But now I use Facebook in a smarter way. I’ve accepted friend requests from a lot more people than I ever did, but I’ve unfollowed them so their posts don’t appear in my News Feed. I also adjusted by Facebook settings so my News Feed would only show updates from the Minimalists.org group and a few other pages that I follow.
If my friends want to talk to me online, they can simply leave me a message on Facebook — this allows me to communicate with them without getting sidetracked by the non-essentials. If I want to know what this friend or that friend is up to and how they’re doing, I visit their Facebook page — or, better yet, I leave them a Facebook message or text them on my phone and ask them how they are. This makes my social media usage much more intentional and helps me avoid mindless scrolling and in-your-face FOMO.
4. I’m more aware of how I consume
I was never a big shopper, but I’ve become even more conscious about buying stuff. Whenever my brain tells me to purchase this or that, I’ve learned to ask myself important questions before heading off to the store.
Do I really need this item, or do I just want the symbolism it represents? Does it make more sense to buy a higher-quality but more expensive option, or can I make do with a cheaper version? What is the environmental impact of buying this thing? If I no longer need/want it, how will I dispose of it? How much space would it take up, and am I willing to go through the hassle of cleaning/maintaining it?
Asking these questions has helped me figure out which things I really need and which ones I just want to have for their symbolic value. It also helps me save money and reduce the clutter around me.
Minimalism has not made my life perfect, because no one will ever have a perfect life. But it has helped me create a better version of myself, and I’m looking forward to making more improvements.