Like others before me, I began to pursue minimalism and simple living when I felt that my life was becoming overwhelming. The mantra of simplifying and decluttering played over and over in my head. I gradually simplified, and over time, I realized some unforeseen benefits. One way to think of minimalism is reducing dependency on certain things, expectations, or activities. Consider the following examples:
- I need my morning coffee to stay awake.
- I am dissatisfied with my car. It gets me from A to B, but I want it to look cooler and accelerate faster.
- My engagement ring must be a one carat diamond.
- My wedding must be at this destination and my dress must look a certain way.
- My purse must be a certain brand.
- I can’t leave the house without putting on makeup.
- I must add sugar or honey to my tea for it to be palatable.
- I need to do dry cleaning once per month.
- I am not satisfied with my evening unless I’ve had dessert.
When I add so many expectations to my life, I am less efficient. More of my time is sucked up due to an unnecessarily picky standard of living that actually makes my life more difficult. Superfluous life restrictions forced me to conform myself to a standard that wasn’t representative of true happiness – things that essentially made my lifestyle too high maintenance. I was more stressed, more busy, and less productive.
In a way, there is some irony to this, because minimalists do have a standard, one that they adhere to very stringently. That standard is whether or not an item or expectation is aligned with intentional living. Some expectations do not add any value whatsoever or add to our overall happiness. We buy things in anticipation of happiness, but too often, they are not sustainable lifestyles and don’t actually make us happier.
As you declutter and simplify, ask yourself this question.
“By getting rid of this item or expectation, what am I freeing myself from?”
And on the subject of freedom, Happy Memorial Day!