A strange thing happened to me, minimalism saved my life. I was recovering from a traumatic medical event, when fear overtook me. Everything that I've worked for was gone virtually overnight. Bank accounts were fully drained, six-figure debts loomed like a shadow, and school loans were left unpaid. In addition many of the activities I enjoyed were a thing of the past. No more mountain biking, snowboarding, even driving a car was out of the question, not to mention my ability to compete in the workplace. I became scared of the future and regretful of the past.
Feeling overwhelmed, I began searching for a vehicle for change. Looking around the house, I began to realize that despite the loss of some vision and hearing, I still had a comfortable life. The possessions I owned surely stood testament to that. Every time I felt sorry for myself one look at my stuff reassured me that I still had it better than much of the world. However, my life continued to circle in a never ending holding pattern. Fear creped back in.
Six years later, life remained unchanged. It seemed like the world was passing me by when by chance I came across a YouTube video. In this video the guy was talking about how minimalism brought about tremendous change in his life. It dawned upon me that every time I felt blue I justified my place in life as better than most people’s due to the things I had accumulated.
I began to examine everything I owned. Did I use the item regularly, was it sentimental, how many hours did I work to obtain it? In a new quest to simplify things three words became my mantra (Repurpose, Donate, and Sell). An old wooden picnic table was turned into a Barbeque cart, clothing that was not being used was donated to the church and an E-bay account was opened. It was very satisfying to get money for unused items which took up space in our home and time out of my life.
The house became easier to clean. Enjoyment of the things I owned increased and the quality of relationships improved. No longer was I using objects around me to elevate myself out of depression. Less time at the mall meant more time for the activities I enjoyed, which in turn elevated my overall mood. The house got larger, more space in every room plus larger closets. If I ever move it will be a breeze.
As I first discovered minimalism on the internet, I again went searching for others stories. It made me happy to see that others had embarked on the same journey. Reading stories of how others neglected family and friends to clean, organize and care for inanimate objects began to sadden me. This strengthened my resolve to rid myself of such possessions.
During the process of reducing my belongings, a slippery slope presented itself. At what point does getting rid of things go too far? My experience was a fortunate one as I took allot of time scrutinizing things before letting go of them. Never the less I was feeling more inspired everyday. Things around the home became easier to find, the quality of my possessions increased and I was feeling happier, almost lighter.
As possesions were removed from my home I found that less stuff equaled less maintenance and that turned into more free time. Less stuff leads to fewer choices and easier decision making. Fewer things cost less, I liked that the most. New toys are always fun but eventually that fades and the toy becomes destined for a box of junk in the attic.
This new interest in minimalism, lead me to a few other future passions. Like a modern day hippie I began researching the benefits of a new trend called tiny houses (under500 Square feet), imagine owning your home with no monthly mortgage payment. My parents are in their seventies and still have one. Another interest is barefoot running. What can be more minimalist than that? Just take off your shoes and go for a run. Although it is recommended that you do some research on how to do it properly as you can easily injure yourself.
A friend of mine presented me a dilemma. If people don’t buy things the economy will suffer, jobs and homes will be lost. At first I was stumped but then I told him that there is no doubt that capitalism helped make this country great. Being simple and owning less doesn't mean you don't buy things, it only means you own higher-quality things. Those things are actually more expensive.
The fear of paying for the rest of my life had paralyzed me. Becoming minimalist was a catalyst for positive change for me, as I am currently embarking on a new chapter in life. I have begun to work from home rather than sit in it and do nothing.
People will always need to buy things. Buying things is not bad. We just need to make better choices. Every individual needs to find a balance between how much they own and how long they spend working to get it. Each individual needs to determine what sacrifices are worth making. Ultimately it’s the people and the relationships with them that matter most, not keeping up with the Jones’s.