Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Let’s face it, we’re all consumers. It doesn’t matter whether we’re buying a wristwatch, a body cream, or a Pepsi soda, shopping has become a huge part of our everyday lives. This is why every day we’re inundated with dozens, if not hundreds, of messages from marketers, and advertisers. There are adverts for products on TV, street billboards, shopping malls, and at the store just across your residence. In this age of social media, you can’t scroll across your social feeds for up to a few minutes without ads cropping up.
Brands are utilizing every piece of information and research at their disposal to win our attention. And they’ve succeeded to a large extent. This is because we’ve become attuned to buying what we don’t necessarily need, piling up clutter here and there.
We’ve become so accustomed to the concept of buying that we don’t stop to think anymore. We now buy things to cure our emotional needs. Not happy? Buy this. Buy that. We now buy things to create a sense of fulfilment in our lives. The result? We end up feeling a lot more miserable.
Conformity can also be at the root of why we buy things that we clearly don’t need. Social media has made things a lot worse. Peers are trying to outdo each other. We’re all trying to keep up with the Joneses. Consequently, we have a generation that has more pressure than any other time in history.
But truth be told, the pressure we’re all experiencing is brought about by external factors, by our unusual need to own things, even when we don’t need them. But it doesn’t have to be so. We clearly do not have to make “things” the centre of our world. A meaningful life doesn't have to include more things that the media makes us believe will make us happy. Clutter in the home creates disorder, and disorder results in chaos in vital areas of our lives.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at how to eliminate clutter not just from our homes, but also how to eliminate clutter from our relationships, emotion, and much more. The effect is a happy and fulfilled life that many have thought impossible.
A minimalistic life is possible, which brings us to the question, “what is minimalism?”
What Is Minimalism?
If you’ve ever decided to live with less, you may have wondered about minimalism. Seeing movements about minimalism springing up every day, and people opting to live simpler lives, may have you confused on what this concept really means.
We have people choosing to live in smaller apartments, people traveling around the world with nothing but a backpack, people making intentional decisions about what products they let into their personal space.
Well, minimalism means different things to different people. While there are similarities among minimalists, each person modifies what this concept means to them as time goes on.
Leo Babauta is the famous creator of the Zen Habits website and a widely-regarded minimalist. He defines minimalism as “a rejection of the idea of ‘more is better,’ of consumption as a lifestyle, of excess. It’s paring your life to the essentials, whether that be possessions, tasks, projects, or anything you allow in your life. That’s different for every person.”
Karol Gajda, the founder of Ridiculously Extraordinary, defines minimalism as “a mindset. It’s not about owning a certain number of items. It’s about owning what is necessary and not buying things without reason. But it progresses past just ‘things.’ It goes as far as health, wealth, and relationships. We’ve made all of these aspects of our lives too complicated. Complications cause stress. Minimalism is the anti-stress.”
In essence, the minimalist lifestyle is only a conscientious way of approaching the world, having realized that materialism is affecting not only our personal lives, but also destroying the planet. Our rivers and oceans are choked with floating garbage, the result of an accumulation of things we don’t need.
Minimalism has become a sort of therapy for many. It is becoming more alluring for people to get rid of everything – like an exorcism of clutters and possessions, clearing the way for a life of simplicity.
Now, a lot more people are saying, we will no longer have to depend on the accumulation of material possessions to bring us happiness. Instead, we will live up to the minimalistic ideals by owning fewer things, ridding ourselves of rampant consumerism.
A Link Between Minimalism and Staying Organized
It was Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant, who proposed an organizational model called the KonMari Method that instantly became a mainstream hit. Her books and lectures on organizing offer the simplest, most effective tools on how to transform cluttered homes into spaces that give off feelings of serenity and inspiration.
Steps to A Minimalistic Lifestyle: Decluttering
This is a process that involves getting rid of things in your household that you don’t need. Yet, there are many people who have not the least idea about this concept. Their idea of decluttering involves moving things around and probably making them look neat.
However, that is not decluttering. Neither is buying a new set of wardrobes, shelves, and expensive furniture. Decluttering does not involve organizing or filing things in an orderly manner. The thing is, moving or organizing things you don’t need, does not begin to count as decluttering, as those things are still there, taking unnecessary space in your home.
When we talk about decluttering, we mean getting rid of things you don’t need – getting them out of the house. When you do this, it is as if a heavyweight has been lifted off your shoulders. You will find your life much easier, and things would function much better.
So, let’s say, anything in your home or personal space, that you don’t have control over, is considered clutter.
Please note that the decluttering process is not going to be easy. Sometimes it can prove daunting and overwhelming. Over time, you must have formed an emotional attachment with things in your home, even when you don’t use them or need them. That is why people choose to rearrange things instead of getting rid of them.
However, you can overcome this initial inertia by just getting on with it. You can start with the small things. For example, you can choose to start with your bedside drawer, getting rid of everything in there that you don’t need. Once you’ve achieved some success, and the attendant feeling of inner joy and clarity that comes with it, you can be inspired to proceed further.
Decluttering: Does the Size of The Home Matter?
Most times, it's not the size of the home, it’s you. Oftentimes, people grow weary of their homes and personal space due to the unnecessary things they must have accumulated over the years, making their homes look like a thrift store.
They’re tempted to think, maybe I need a bigger apartment, only to obtain a much larger apartment, and the dreaded cycle continues. Within a short while, the new apartment, with bigger and extensive space, has been overtaken by clutter. Stop. Clear the clutter, and find out how happy you can be.
Time to Stop Putting Your Stuff Before Your Space
What’s your favourite food? Please stay with me, I’m going somewhere with this. Mine is butter tarts. They’re so simple, but oh so good. They’re made by taking flaky pastry shells and filling them with butter, sugar, and egg filling. It’s the traditional Canadian food at its best. The mere thought of it makes my mouth water.
So, when I’m exhausted from work, depressed, or in a rut, I turn to my butter tart for some comfort. With my waistline taking the toll for it, this seemingly harmless habit may be holding me back from shedding that unwanted belly fat for good.
My point? Clutter has become a comfort zone for many. Remember the last time you ate some comfort food? You felt really great while doing so, didn’t you? But I’m not sure you were excited afterward. Aside from you finishing your comfort food, you also knew you were on your way to gaining extra pounds in no time.
Now, your nice clothes no longer fit. You don’t feel happy about your rapid weight gain. You’re frustrated and guess what, your frustrations make you head back to unhealthy foods to find some sort of comfort. It is a vicious cycle that will be difficult to break.
The same scenario takes place when you keep buying things that you don’t need or think you might need in the future. You keep piling up things in your home that only end up collecting dust. You coax yourself into believing that you, or someone close to you, needs them.
When you bought this item, you felt great. However, not so great when you try cleaning your home and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Complaints give rise to frustration, which leads to more purchases, just to feel good at the moment.
So, what can you do? Well, there’s an old saying: If you find yourself standing in a deep hole with a shovel in your hands, stop digging. Once you start getting rid of things that you don’t need, you will find new love, and that love is space.
Minimalism & Decluttering: Where do I start?
Start by making your bed. Sounds funny, even ridiculous. But even for those in the military, this is where the lessons start from – instilling the act of discipline and excellence. It starts with small details. It is about attention to detail.
Again, excuses are easy, but it’s also easy to make your bed every morning. It takes only minutes to get the sheets and pillows in a neat pile, and it’s the easiest way to make your entire bedroom look great immediately.
So, start with the small accomplishments. It will encourage you to do another task, and then another. And before you know it, you’re on your way to decluttering, getting rid of worthless things that no longer spark joy.