Minimalism in one sentence: Get rid of anything and everything that no longer contributes to the life you want to live.
I recently had a helpful online conversation with a person I’ve never met.
I had posted about minimalism on social media (as I tend to do) and she replied with a relatively common response, “I’m just afraid I’ll get rid of something I need later.”
There are, of course, no quick and easy replies to that fear—especially when we’ve never met. I don’t know where she lives, how much stuff she has, what she imagines her ideal life to look like, or even her propensity to throw away things that she’ll need later.
So, I offered my typical one-sentence reply to that question, “Aren’t you afraid of keeping more stuff than you need?”
Her reply went something like this: “No, that’s a dumb thing to be afraid of. Why would I ever be afraid of keeping more than I need?”
And in her reply, I was quickly reminded of the one belief that motivates all minimalist pursuits:
There is a danger in owning more physical possessions than I need.
The specifics of that motivation may look different from person to person.
For example, we may think to ourselves:
- Owning too much keeps me from quality time with my family.
- Owning too much prevents me from achieving financial freedom.
- Owning too much means I am unable to share with others.
- Owning too much is a danger to the environment.
- Owning too much means my priorities are in the wrong place.
- Owning too much slows down my journey of faith.
- Owning too much robs my opportunity to pursue greater passions.
The specific motivation may change, but the overarching understanding is still the same:
It’s not just that possessions won’t make me happy, it’s that they distract me from the things that do! And it’s not just happiness that excess possessions distract us from, but joy, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and significance.
That is the lightbulb moment that motivates minimalism.
There is a danger in owning more than I need:
The danger of losing my life in pursuit of things that don’t matter.
I love this. Fair to say that commenter was a maximalist at heart.
Laurie Purtell says
I am in the midst of trying to get rid of stuff. My problem is that I am a sentimental person. I have a large set of beautiful china with all of the extra pieces. It belonged to my great grandmother whom I never knew. I don’t use China and my boys aren’t interested. Do I just keep it? Do I donate it? Do I use it? Of all of the things I’ve gotten rid of this weighs on my mind!
Mel C. says
Keep rereading Joshua’s post. Delve into his other posts and some of his guest posts, including the comments. Your dilemma is exactly what many of them address/face again and again, from different perspectives and seasons of life. Revisiting and pondering may help you clarify what you want to do, without someone telling you what you should do.
Laurie Purtell says
This helps, thank you for sharing.
Anne Milianku says
It will feel better than any china u can buy today.
use and enjoy it!!
Elaina Carlstrom says
Use it everyday and then you will know what is best for you.
Gary Roberts says
Photograph the china from many different angles. Write about it in your journal. The sell it – and convert it to cash.
I guess you should ask yourself why you don’t use them? Do you like them? They deserve to be used and loved. If that’s not you then they should go to someone who will.
Ruth Boncorddo says
I always think things would rather be used than stored. Start using the China everyday and honor your great grandmother. Or give it away to be enjoyed after taking a picture for remembrance.
With my grandma’s and great grandma’s china I have 2 plates on display. My niece took the rest of my grandma’s china. Are there any other relatives that would be interested in the china? I’m almost 70 so I get where you’re coming from.
Keep it and display it in pretty place. I think it’s fine to keep some sentimental things, if they can been seen and appreciated. But if you have too much or too many things it will all just be over run and you won’t see any thing but mess.
I am from australia, my mum sent my great grandmothers wedding dress. It was lovely, i took a photo in it (it fit!) and then i donated it to my aunt back in australia. I cant have children and i didnt want to just discard it, but my aunt had a daughter she could give it to and then it would stay in the family and continue the history. Maybe there is a cousin, aunt/uncle that could make use of the family historical value?
Noreen Knox says
I have been practicing minimalism for 9 months, lost 35 lbs in the process. Am slowly cleaning out my house and attic. Starting in mid November, I had a major setback, felt like a switch in my brain/body turned off the minimalist sensor. Had a hefty case of flu, bought clothes i didn’t need (one of my worst areas), ate sugar and salt + gained 3 lbs and was headed upward. Could not get back on track, just lost it, frustrating, cried a few times. Then this week, the switch turned back on and I’m sorting again (full bags of paper to garbage, boxes to SPCA Thrift Shop, wedding out clothes, etc), thrilled to see empty space in the attic and living areas. I do not understand it and is unsettling. At the same time it was enlightening to see the other side of my life, like looking thru a window of a close friend’s house.
It recently occurred to me that I want to ultimately live in a 2 bed flat by the beach……my light bulb moment was realising how easily I could decide and let go of so many thing I felt I had to keep once I had that goal. On discussing this with hubby he is not adverse to this future change…..then came the simple thought, we can divest of all that is not needed while living here and so frees the mind …….Becoming Minimalist…..continues to change my quality of life….thank you from Sydney Australia.
Makena murage says
Minimalism to me is freedom. The joy and efficiency that comes with declutter is immense. But the best part is the act of letting go of all those things in my life that serves no purpose,
I have minimalised unnecessary friendships, unproductively talks, foods, items, media and the feeling so good. Thanks to the minimalism
I have been doing the same one task per day, put on my list to do, so one day, I clear out my guardrobe, another closet, another day, or week, when I feel like it and put aside the time for this urgently needed, and half done, I will leave it undone to get over it when I will have more ideas about where and what to do with my stuffs. So it seems a draining in energy decluttering steps and necessarily useful to me living along and with the cats.
For me, I don’t feel like I had this problem of having
too much. Materially. The problem with having gifts and souvenirs, and also in what one can spend is to limit oneself in ones desire’s desire. All the more so as do repair waste, relearn or waste, hire for the installation of the lights, and also, the repairs in the kitchen and the patio. I love and get inspiration from TV shows that give me a lot of good ideas. Sometimes its about keeping just in case or do what other people do. I do this less and less because then when I move I find myself with a list of things that I often duplicate. But I don’t like my house all blank empty, I think it is sad.
JODI M COLLINS says
I’m new to the Minimalism journey…my hurdle is that my family is NOT on board. I’ve been trying to gently prod them and encourage them to see how much less we would have to clean and how much money we could save if we didn’t have so many possessions. But, alas, they CAN NOT see. Until then, there is enough stuff under my power that can and will be decluttered.
I live with two people who keep every single thing and don’t like to put things away.
Because they are both chronically ill, my
coping method is to put 5 things in front
of each of them every day and ask whether we should keep the items or not.
Wow so what did they keep and toss away?
J Po says
What if I need it later? If I have so much stuff, I probably wont be able to find it later!
Paul, UK says
Excellent, made me laugh, so true.