Last time I finished with the promise to tell you what little steps I’ve made recently. What these new breaths of life were inspired by?
But first, a teeny bit of a preface.
I’ve always been quite organized and orderly with my surroundings. I love clean surfaces and tidy spaces. I’m a fan of decluttering!
I didn’t realise this trait in me until I moved in with my partner in our new place a few years ago. The truth is, though, that this place isn’t ours, it’s my partner’s grant aunt’s place, and we’re taking care of it while she’s slowly winding down in a nursing home.
We are immensely grateful for being able to live in this place – a lovely 2 floor house perfectly fit for a small family like ours. We’ve also put an immense amount of time, energy, and funds to renovate and refurnish it completely. We’re also hugely thankful to my partner’s family for the support and help when we first moved in. The place wasn’t much more than a building site but quickly after the news of our future arrival, we rolled up our sleeves and transformed the house.
It’s been an incredible journey!
Only when living here did I realise the magic of letting go of possessions. First, we had to let go of most things that we found in the house. I have to say this is a delicate subject and it’s not easy to do away with the possessions of another person. But we had to – you also can’t hold onto to them for too long. You have your own life to live and you certainly must live it the way you want. And that means that you must surround yourself with objects that you like and value.
But then I quickly learned to let go of my own possessions too, when I wasn’t happy with them anymore. I started paying regular visits to the local charity shops (what you’d call a thrift store in the US), dropping bags of things I no longer needed. My favourite shop is the “Irish Cancer Support” and I’m truly hoping the money they raise go to people that need treatment or similar support.
So you see- it’s actually a win-win situation. To be accurate it’s a triple win situation – you pass on something you no longer value, somebody else buys it and that makes their day, and funds are raised to support cancer patients (or orphan children, or other initiatives). I call this magic!
Is this enough for a prelude? Are you on board?
This concept of decluttering was recently brought to a whole new level. A few weeks ago I randomly came upon a website called TheMinimalists.com. Go ahead and check it out (but make sure you finish reading this first!).
Now, minimalism… What?
What I’ve understood about minimalism is that it can take many forms. It’s an old concept that enjoys quite a lot of attention these days. A couple of years ago it became popular and the first minimalists were people that went to extremes and rigidity of sorts, living lives with only possessing 100 items or being able to fit everything they owned in one backpack only.
Today though, there’s diversity – there’s families with kids that have embraced minimalism, there’s people that travel the world, there’s people living in the city and people living in the suburbs, there’s single males, females, couples, etc.
Minimalism is not about how many things you own, minimalism is about owning things that make you happy, bring value in your life, you love them, you need them, and they have a special purpose. Anything that doesn’t fit into these categories is considered clutter.
The concept of minimalism can even be extended to people and relationships, as well. I know this might sound harsh and severe but think about it: Do you really need to keep relationships which are dysfunctional; that, instead of contributing to your growth, are in fact impeding it? I don’t think so.
The concept of minimalism is about getting rid of everything that depletes your personal growth, your health, your time, and take your attention away from the things and people you love and value. It’s about asking: What is valuable for you? What is important for you? What brings you contentment and makes your life meaningful? In the long term!
After reading on minimalism and listening to a few podcasts, I was fully in. And I’ll tell you why.
I’ve experienced this issue for a long time – not enough time. All I want to do is: read/listen, write, colour, meditate, exercise, eat healthy, spend quality time with my son and partner (and some time soon meet with people again).
But, dang, why is it so hard to get it right? I’m tired, I’m frustrated, I’m overwhelmed, all the time, not in the mood… Urghh… Does this ring a bell?
OI realised that even though I was routinely decluttering, we still had loads of stuff. The living room is full, there’s lots of things everywhere. Not to mention our son’s toys, which he prefers to throw around anyway… Same in the kitchen – kitchenware that we haven’t touched for more than an year. Bathroom drawers full of unthinkable little things accumulated through the years. Books that we keep for just in case. Wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear… It goes on like this.
But my biggest light-bulb moment was when I realised that most of my troubles were because of my laptop and phone – the way I was using them. And I’m not a tech-geek or social media guru, and still. I was getting at least 10 notifications a day from Twitter, to start with.
Here’s what I did:
1. I changed all my notification settings from LinkedIn and Twitter.
2. I unsubscribed from all lists that I was no longer interested in. Kept only about 5 subscriptions from people who are adding value to my life with their materials.
3. I changed the setting in my mailbox and no longer have a little balloon on my taskbar telling me how many unread emails I have.
4. I deleted Facebook app from my phone. Which freed up half of the memory on my phone and instead I installed Headspace (meditation app) and Audible (audiobooks app).
5. I disabled my Gmail account on my phone – no more emails.
6. I started working through my email accounts on my laptop – deleting the rubbish and archiving the important stuff (that’s taking me a while).
7. I’ve also planned reducing my email accounts from three to one.
The effect was instant. On the next day I already felt I have much more time for the things I want to do. Sometimes I manage to do everything I’ve planned for the day! And let me remind you – my 3 year old son is out to preschool only for three hours a day, the rest of the time we’re like glued together. Which means I don’t get to do much of my stuff during that time, and which unfortunately was turning my relationship with him into something not very enjoyable.
Now I’m calmer, more content and more open for spontaneous and unplanned things to happen. There’s no pressure, no distraction. There isn’t something to pull/push me all the time. There’s no more emails in my inbox that are nudging me to check them out. There’s no feeling at the back of my head, no impulse.
There’s space and intention. And time, ah time.
And let me iterate the intention bit (and I’ll let you go). Every action I take is because I want to, because I’ve decided to spend my time like this. And yes, I still check my emails but only when I choose to, not when some social media channel decides to. I create the time for everything I do, I plan for it, I make an intention to do it.
The result: I am happy and I’m fulfilled. I’ve regained my time and my calm.
And one last thing (I know, I know) – this isn’t solely embracing minimalism. I surely don’t call myself a minimalist. It’s the idea behind this concept – to have only what you love or need, what brings value and meaning to you and your life. Which happens to improve your well-being, your relationships, your life in general.
It so happens that minimalism corresponds to my personal value system.
Have you heard about minimalism? Has it changed your life already? Do you know somebody who can benefit from it? Share this post with them!