Less Is Not Nothing
Sometimes people think that living more simply and becoming a minimalist means giving everything away and living with nothing. What it really means is living with what is most important to you.
Clearing the clutter makes it easier to focus. Living with less allows you the time and space to thoughtfully spend your time and enjoy what means the most to you. Sometimes that is stuff.
When I wrote about letting go of sentimental items for Joshua Becker’s becomingminimalist.com, he asked me to explore the idea that less doesn’t mean none.
While some minimalists focus on living with less than a certain number of things or being able to carry all of their belongings in a backpack, most of us are just happy to live with less than we had before. That looks different for everyone. Depending on your current family size, and other factors, you may have more or less than the minimalist next door, and that is ok.
Shed stuff for the right reasons. Define why you want to shed your stuff, or you will end up filling those empty shelves with meaningless stuff again. Having less than another does not make you a better minimalist and living with less is not a competition. The purpose of simplifying is to have more time and space for what matters most to you. That being said, you may challenge yourself with fun ideas like:
100 Things Challenge
minimalist fashion Project 333
One is Enough mini mission
These challenges should inspire you, but not stress you out. Have fun and attempt them with a light heart. You will find that the lesson never reveals itself right away. You may think that by wearing only 33 items for 3 months, the lesson is how to dress with less, but the real truth is discovered by the time and space you open up in doing the exercise.
What stuff you do decide to keep will reflect who you are and what you enjoy. Your stuff does not define you, but does contribute to your story. If you are passionate about baking, you will likely have more in your kitchen than someone who collects art, or runs marathons. When you start to focus on what is most important to you, even if it is stuff, you learn more about yourself.
The less is not nothing concept especially applies if you are a minimalist with a family. Be careful not to push someone else to live just like you, especially when they live with you. Believe me when I say, it’s tempting, but not effective in making real change. While there are many couples and families becoming minimalist together, chances are one person in the family started it and is more passionate about it. Focus on your own stuff, make decisions about family stuff together and let your partner or children find their own way with their personal stuff. Lead by example and don’t have expectations that every closet in the house will look the same.
When you learn to live with enough, you can direct your focus away from acquisition, away from filling space in your house and on your calendar and move towards making a difference.
Remember that there is a big leap between nothing and everything and lots of stops in between. Choose the one that fits you best.
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