Redefining Minimalism: A Shopaholic’s Journey to Minimalism

minimalism

The craze started sometime in June, 2019. I liked the idea of owning just the essentials so much that I went ahead to downsize my wardrobe. To prove how smitten I was, I even did the famous capsule wardrobe blog post.

However, even as I was going around tossing this and deciding I did not need that, I was not about to limit my wardrobe to just 37 pieces, and I was certainly not about the idea of banishing junk food from my diet.

I know right about now someone somewhere has already stripped me off the title “minimalist,” just for saying those last two statements. Relax, Susan! Allow me to explain;

What Minimalism Isn’t

One day, around the time I was still new to the concept to minimalism, I watched this YouTuber who happened to refer to herself as a minimalist. The video was about moving into her new home. Looking around, through her sneak peek of a house tour, I observed that the house was packed; one wall had a gazillion paintings. “Girl, you are no minimalist!” yelled the judge Judy inside my head.

Long story short, like most people, I was wrong. As I have come to learn, minimalism isn’t white walls, L-shaped couches or anywhere near hammocks. There is no one way to become a minimalist and there are no boxes to tick off in order to pass the “minimalist test.” It is also important to note that there is no competition in minimalism, and even if there was, the winner would not necessarily be the person who owns the least number of items.

Minimalism is not about the number, amount, material or physical quality of the things you should own. Needless to say, leading a minimalist lifestyle does not stop at your physical possessions and the things you spend money on.

Minimalism Redefined

The term minimalism theoretically means simplicity. “Less is more” is a common phrase that is often thrown around by those who have embraced minimalism. If you practice a version of minimalism that is right for you, you will soon discover that minimalism is not about losing as much as it is about gaining. The less in the phrase less is more does not always have to mean sacrifice. In fact, you should never give up things that are important to you, or ones that you love. The idea of minimalism is about getting rid of the excess (most of which you don’t need/use), to make room for the little that adds value to your life. Remember earlier on we said that minimalism is not about the number of the things you own, so in this case, the little can be 30 or 100— whatever sprinkles your donuts.

Minimalism is therefore about less clutter, less stress, less decision fatigue, less guilt, less wanting, less judgment and more space, more time, more freedom, more giving, more acceptance, clarity of mind, and most importantly, more joy. In most cases (mine included), it is also about more money.

 

Why Minimalism?

This is a question that everyone must ask themselves and answer before embarking on the journey that is minimalism. For me, however, minimalism was more of a solution to a problem;

When I was in University, I owned belongings in two separate places: at home and school respectively. In each place I had enough stuff to last me a while. Heck! I had stuff for two separate full lives. So when I finished school and it was time to move everything back home, my small bedroom space didn’t even have room for me to fall down (not that I wanted to take a fall).

The decision to declutter my physical belongings ignited in me the desire to declutter more aspects of my life, in a way that made me a better person than I ever was; a process that I explain so much better in my e-book— The Skillful Minimalist.

The Skillful Minimalist

Grab your copy! (Reviews on Amazon are welcome)

On top of that, adapting the above version of minimalism was convenient for me at that particular point in my life, because I knew that it was one of the main ingredients I needed in order to achieve my long-term goals. Minimalism was therefore a way of letting go and releasing old baggage (literally and figuratively), in order to allow new energy into my life and also put myself in a position to afford and own things that were really important to me. You can call it a visualization technique— the idea was to create an accommodating space for the things that were an integral part of my overall growth and peace.

minimalism

Benefits: The More

More space

Needless to say, this may be the most obvious benefit of them all. I could not only perform my poor dancing moves inside my room, but I also managed to set up a working space; with a desk and all. My wardrobe also became more aesthetically pleasing; because of owning only the clothes that I love, and also because I incorporated Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of folding. Generally, more space led to better organization.

 

Mindfulness

Being mindful is a benefit as much as it is the yin to minimalism’s yang. There is no one without the other. On one hand, minimalism creates time and space for mindfulness, and on the other hand, being intentional is part and parcel of healthy mindful practices. Through certain acts of minimalism— like letting go and unplugging from time to time, I was able be present and focus on the here and now. This state of mindfulness and intentionality made me see my environment with fresh eyes, thus being aware of everything I keep and do at all times, as well as the people I allow in my space.

 

More productivity

Being more productive came as a result of gaining more space. It is true that clutter in your physical space leads to clutter in your mind, which hinders creativity and productivity. Clutter and disorganization is a form of noise, without which I could hear my thoughts clearly (I swear I am not exaggerating). A big percentage of our stress (which hinders productivity) is brought about by the things we own, the people in our lives, and/or the want for more of these things. Therefore, when you are content with your life and only keep the things that bring you joy, you experience less stress.

 

Adapting a saving culture

From the title up top you can probably tell that I previously had poor money handling skills. In hindsight, I was rather unintentional with my spending. Through minimalism, however, frivolous purchases are a thing of the past. What’s fascinating about this is the fact that I am not struggling to save at all. The fact that I know what I need and what’s important is enough reason for me to know when to put that money away, and only spend with intention and mindfulness. I have my financial goals in mind at all times, and so every coin is skillfully accounted for. And you don’t need to have a crazy income to be able to save.

 

Save time

If I had a penny for every time keeping clutter has gotten me late… I would obviously have more clutter in form of coins. It was in the 10 outfit changes, the “what to wear” indecisiveness, the old “I have nothing to wear” adage, the “where the hell could that lip gloss be?” The list goes on and on.

The joy of decluttering is that you know where everything is because nothing gets lost in the clutter, and most importantly, you always have something to wear because you absolutely love all your thirty or ten thousand clothes.

 

An attitude of gratitude

Keeping only the things that were really important to me (tangible and intangible) made me appreciate the things I have, all the more. You take good care of your stuff when they mean something to you. When you have duplicates, where everything is easily replaceable, you tend to be irresponsible and maybe even feel a sense of entitlement. We spend our lives focusing on our want for more things, that we forget to be grateful for what we have now; things that we prayed for, once upon a time. Minimalism reminds you to stop and be grateful every now and then.

 

Better relationships

Minimalism in relationships, as I discuss in my e-book, is not always and/or entirely about “getting rid of”. By adapting minimalist principles in different relationships, I can say with confidence that I found peace. I did this by simply knowing who to put where, and what to expect from whom. The concept of minimalism in relationships is also about how much you are willing to invest (in terms of time and attention) on the people you care most about.

 

Value experiences over stuff

This alone is a statement that influences major decisions in the life of a minimalist. Even before I knew what minimalism was, in certain aspects I always preferred experiences over things. Don’t get me wrong, I do like and appreciate certain thoughtful gifts, but there is just something about fun shared experiences. For one, they provide memories that I’ll carry with me for a long time, and they are also a way to connect and learn from people and places.

 

Way Forward

I can’t wait to be one of those people who say, “I have been a minimalist for the last decade.” This is because it is one lifestyle I don’t see myself ever reverting from. I have found that when you know what you want, and what’s important to you, you tend to vibrate differently. My favorite part of it all has to be the conscious pursuit of those things, as you look forward to the reward that comes with achieving your goals, no matter how small.

Going forward, it is my hope and dream that more people will hop onto this bandwagon that is mainly about living a life of your own choosing, characterized with things and people that bring you joy. I would also love to have conversations with like-minded people on the same, which is why I leave you with a question (or two);

What does minimalism mean to you? And do you think it’s something that adds to one’s life?

38 Responses

  1. Ana

    Wonderful post! You explain minimalism so well by pointing out that it’s not about what you don’t have but about what you gain. Minimalism doesn’t come in one size. I’ve found that the less I own the more I gain in savings, time and peace of mind. Like you, I’m not reverting to my old lifestyle 😉 Thank you for your inspiring piece.

    • Marion

      Yaaay! I am so glad to hear from someone who shares my sentiments. Thank you for giving this your time, Ana😉

  2. Jasmin Valcourt

    Minimalism is something I’ve been trying to practice lately. Sometimes I feel my like my life is congested with stuff. And you are so right! People tend to take minimalism way too literally. Minimalism is about simplifying your life in ways that work for YOU. Thank you for this post! I will keep all of this in mind as I attempt to declutter my kitchen cabinets. Wish me luck!

    • Marion

      Great stuff! And yes, for me I just decided to go with a version of minimalism that I am comfortable with, as the numbers thing doesn’t really work the same for everyone. Glad you found this helpful… And good luck on your decluttering endeavour 😀

  3. Tea Spangsberg

    I’m trying to “cut down” on my belongings this year. Not so much to be minimalistic but to clear out in my life a bit. I always feel like I’m cleaning up stuff I really don’t need.

    ❤️

    Thanks for sharing

    • Marion

      That’s the idea… Good luck with that, and thank you for stopping by 😊

  4. Catey

    W o w, this is not the post I was expecting to read – it was BETTER. This is such a wonderful explanation of minimalism and you’re so right: it’s about less being more. Things seem to have skewed more in the direction of claiming minimalism as “having as little as humanly possible” but I tell you what, that sounds like a 12th century lifestyle I am not trying to revert to haha!

    • Marion

      Aww 😊
      Thank you so much for giving this your time. I also think at some point it started being a competition on who owned the least number of items, which is so far from what the point should be.
      And you’re so right, we are in the 21st century! 😀

  5. Bumbles

    I’ve done the opposite I think. I’ve got the minimal space because I dont live in a conventional house, I’ve lived out of a back pack and a few bags before but now I need things like tools and such and when you are out there needing to fix stuff there are a few things you need spare 🙂

    • Marion

      I understand that. If such a lifestyle makes you happy and you don’t feel deprived it’s fine. In the end minimalism is just about what makes you happy and doing what feels right to you without making others feel as so they’re not “minimal enough”
      Thank you for clicking through 😊

  6. Shana Seigler

    Great post! I have only thought about minimalism in terms of less things but now knowing it is a concept that can be used for relationships… I plan to put some of this in to practice.

    • Marion

      Awesome, glad you picked something new here. All the best… Thank you for clicking through

  7. Amber

    I used to be unsure about the term “minimalist”. I appreciate your perspective in breaking down the meaning of the term. I definitely have a better understanding.

  8. Kate Duff

    Hi Marion great post – I initially did the big clean outs but then found that I had maybe gone overboard. I’m naturally a bohemian so I love my plants and textures. I have however redefined my surroundings and what I have now is far less than I ever have – I also only have pieces I love and which love me back I.e. easy to care for. I thank minimalism for making me far more mindful about purchases

    • Marion

      Hi Kate,
      Wow! I usually refer to myself as a “Bohemian at heart”
      I like that your version of minimalism is centered on Love… Thank you for engaging.

  9. Meghan Strong

    I am no where near calling myself a minimalist yet, but I’m glad to be on the journey. My problem was I went from buying clothes to buying books. I thought because books add value to your life that it was okay. I still have bookshelves full of books I still haven’t read, but it’s my goal to change that. I’ve definitely got a lot to learn and your post helped me go a little bit further on my journey!

    Minimalism definitely adds to your life and I don’t think it’s something that many people go back from. Great post! So insightful!

    • Marion

      Thank you 😊
      Glad you found the post insightful. I was the same as you, but one day I just decided to purge. If you’ve got a good storage system it’s fine. Me on the other hand, the books were just getting old and in terrible condition. And that’s no way to treat something that was of service to you, and more importantly something that you spent money on.

  10. P

    Minimalism is great and it sets me free. I find that getting rid of things is quite liberating. Also that having too much stuff around zaps my spirit. Great post! 😁🌴

    • Marion

      Thank you for the read. I agree, there’s a sense freedom that comes with minimalism.

  11. Inna

    Wow, this is awesome. I have recently wrote a post about becoming minimalist and I can relate to this. You are right, there are so many benefits including the ones you listed up there. Thank you so much for writing this.

    • Marion

      Thank you so much as well for giving this your time… I’d love to read your post as well, and maybe pick up a thing or two (heading there now 💃)

  12. Becky Lewis-Jones

    Really interpiece. I’ve honestly tried, but I collect stuff and my house is like an art gallery of my experiences. I adore other people’s minimalist homes, but I suspect I will never achieve this!

    • Marion

      My perception of a minimalist home, as I discuss in my book, is about communicating the messages you want to tell yourself and others through the things you keep in your space and your arrangement. So guess what Becky… If you truly love those things and think that they are messages you want to have around, then you could be more minimal than you think.
      Thank you for stopping by 😊

  13. Zoey Gardner

    I love this post! As a college student who is struggling with having belongings in two separate places myself, I am really wanting to cut down on things. I have so much stuff that I don’t even use and I know it could go off to a much better home! My mind really does feel so much clearer too when my space is clear. Thanks for this great post! I used to think that minimalism was just about how few items you have, but you have me changing my perspective on that!

    • Marion

      Great to hear! I am glad to hear that you find this particular perspective on minimalism feasible. In the end it is just about existing in a space that brings you joy. Thank you for clicking through 😊

  14. Georgianne

    I’ve been thinking a lot about minimalism lately, but I am guilty of having the wrong idea of it – such as bare rooms haha. Thank you for explaining the concept. I have given a lot of belongings away to charity but I still have plenty. I could give them away too but they’re in excellent condition and I thought I’d use them first (even though I really need the extra space in my room!). I have saved much more money, as you said, simply because I didn’t spend it on frivolous things. I’d love to stop shopping for anything I don’t need when I travel – the urge is too strong though and sometimes I give in to it.

    • Marion

      I can understand that. I’d be lying if I said I never get tempted to partake in impulse buying 😀
      Honestly, when I decluttered my wardrobe I found myself giving out even clothes that were in perfect condition, simply because I just wasn’t into them anymore.
      Thank you for stopping by 😊

  15. Sumedha

    I’m generally a person who hates clutter and owning things I don’t need as I don’t like having anything that isn’t useful. And I try to have flexible furniture that can work for more than one purpose for the same. I don’t know if it’s minimalistic exactly, but having just what is required feels great 😊

  16. LaKisha Mosley

    Great post. Thanks for first explained minimalist. I had no idea!! Everything you said it wasn’t is what I thought it was. Thanks for sharing

    • Marion

      I’m glad you found this particular perspective something to go by. Although I should probably say that there are some “minimalists” who’d disagree… But like I said, it’s about YOU first.
      Thank you for the read.

  17. Nancy

    I have been reading a lot about minimalism lately. It is great that there is a whole movement where people are living with just what they need. I need to do a better job at this – especially when I can just have one thing to suffice the need. I love that you outlined the benefits outside of helping our environment. Thanks for sharing!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    • Marion

      I’m glad that your reads led you here. Thank you for clicking through 😊
      Take it one step at a time and just be yourself.

    • Marion

      Glad to hear that minimalism is working out great for you. Thank you for the read

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