When we first heard minimalism was the path to a better life, we were skeptical. It sort of made sense, at least in a very direct way. If we removed an item from our home, then we’d no longer have to clean and organize that item, thus creating a little more availability.
Donating half of my clothing meant only one load of laundry instead of two whenever it came time to do the wash. That meant half as much time spent on laundry, and a little more time doing something else.
These small efforts to reclaim our time and energy were definitely valuable. Each minute recaptured creates more space in our lives so we can choose to spend it better. But it seemed like a far stretch from being able to travel more, having more personal freedom, and the other benefits often touted.
At this point, it has become clear that each bit of space we created during the journey continues to be filled with the kinds of things we want in our life.
Last year, my wife and I traveled more than we ever had before, and even escaped the cold Minnesota winter for awhile. We spent time with people we cared about. We donated more money than ever before. We worked on meaningful projects and volunteered our time to causes that we believed in—all which ended up being incredibly rewarding experiences.
This year, we became full-time freelancers and bloggers. We’re continually working to build a life of constant creating, giving, and gratitude. While we’re still figuring out the next steps of the journey every day, I can definitively say that none of these options would have been possible previously.
I understand there might be a disconnection between donating a few shirts and traveling the world. It may not make sense that leaving space in your daily schedule may lead to better employment opportunities, more rewarding experiences, or a better life.
The things we want only come once we create the space for them.
If you don’t understand how decluttering can be freeing, it’s okay. It’s difficult, especially when just starting out. It may feel like your own identity is wrapped up in those things sitting around the house, to the point your sense of self-worth might feel at risk.
It’s scary because when we let something go, we know exactly what we’re losing. It’s a tangible, identifiable thing that seems frightening to let go of in exchange of a long-term, largely intangible benefit.
If it were possible to know exactly what we have to gain and when, it would be a much easier decision, right? Get rid of this thing, and you’ll make $1,500 more dollars in the next two months.
The space created from minimalism can be used to write a blog, connect with someone with a shared interest, volunteer for a cause that you believe in, or simply spend more time with family and friends.
It is these decisions, these moments—how we fill the space that we create from minimalism—that multiply and build. The connections we make, the people we work with, and the things we create that begin to create real change in our lives.
Through minimalism, we can give selflessly because we know that by living simply, our needs will be met. When we give, we’re putting positivity and goodwill out into the world. In one way or another, that positivity always seems to come back to us in folds.
To think, it all started with donating a few items from our home.
I can say with certainty, our lifestyle changes have come from the opportunities created by minimalism. The people we’ve met, the time we’ve given, and the projects we’ve created. If the benefits from minimalism don’t seem to make sense, do not be discouraged. It does take time and effort, but you will find your way.
If you’re unsure about minimalism or experiencing difficulty on the journey, consider this:
Possessions are limiting, the possibilities created by their removal are unlimited. When we have an item we don’t need, it is finite. The space created by the decluttering of that item is infinite. The possibilities of what that space, time, and energy can be used for are limited only by what we desire to do with it.
If you’re feeling lost, keep taking steps forward. While major impacts from minimizing may not come quickly, stick with it. Each small opportunity is a step in the right direction, and will open doors later down the road. If you’re feeling uncertain, just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. When looking back, it will be clear to see how each small step led to the collective result.
Curate the information you consume. Every day, we’re exposed to hundreds if not thousands of advertisements. These advertisements tell us that the life we want is just one purchase away and luckily for you, it happens to be what they are selling. Limit your intake to books, websites and other sources that benefit your journey and leave the rest.
When we create space with minimalism, we create the freedom to build the opportunities that matter to us. We slowly build the resources necessary to take leaps, say yes to new challenges, and give our time to meaningful causes. While it might not seem to add up initially, prioritizing the things that matter really will make all the difference.