My Journey Into Real Minimalism

For more than 10 years now, I have felt a strong desire to become a minimalist, a desire I have revisited again and again to little or no avail. However, I hailed from the false presumption that Minimalism was simply about getting rid of a bunch of stuff in an effort to be less cluttered. Recently, I decided to indoctrinate myself to minimalism by consuming vast amounts of material from the guys over at theminimalists.com. In doing so, I have discovered what minimalism is actually about, and it is so much more desirable than just a tidy living space.

As it turns out, The Minimalists’ teachings have a few things in common with a health program I’ve been on called “The Habits of Health.” On this program I have lost 70 pounds in less than 5 months. In both cases, I’ve learned that in order to be successful in any endeavor, I need to define my “why.” Why am I doing this? Why am I here? What brought me to this point? Where my health is concerned, my weight was getting dangerously close to ending a 17 year military career in the Air National Guard – a career that I have worked very hard for, and which provides my family with benefits we absolutely need. That was my “why” for improving my health.

Through listening to The Minimalists podcast, I got to hear what led these two guys, Josh and Ryan, to their current simple, intentional life. I got to hear their “why.” Doing so led me to ponder why I might want to live life with less and what path might lead me there.

As a catalyst to spark my transition to this new way of life, and to help me define why I want to live more simply, I decided to play the 30 Day Minimalism Game.

The game is simple, you get rid of one thing on day one, two things on day two, three things on day three, and so on. By the end of the game you will have gotten rid of 465 items. You’re supposed to play with someone, but I don’t know anyone who would be willing. I’m on day 24, which means I’ve gotten rid of 300 items (actually more because there have been a few times I got rid of a ton of literal junk while looking for items to donate). As an exercise in highlighting the superfluous nature of the items I was clinging to, I have been keeping a list, which I’ll post here when I’m finished with the game.

One thing I’ve noticed while playing the #minsgame is how much stupid, pointless shit I’ve bought. I remember being excited to get all of it, but that excitement was fleeting. Soon the stuff became a burden, taking up space in my home and in my mind. I’d find myself lamenting not getting around to using all of it. What I lament even more is now looking at the massive amount of debt I’ve accumulated buying some of this stuff.

Another thing that has been illuminating during this process is how I’ve started to develop a keen sense for what really adds value to my life. As I approach axing 300 items from my life, the things that remain are all my favorite things. They’re the things I use all the time. They’re the things which allow me to pursue my passions.

As I remove the excess items from my life, I’ve also developed a strong facility for letting go. Just a moment ago, a co-worker mentioned needing to return a Macbook I let her borrow (one of my personal ones) when she was out with COVID. I said, “do you want it? What do I need with a fourth computer? If you like it, it’s yours.” She seemed pretty stoked. This muscle for letting go which I have been developing has caused me to effortlessly let go of tons of unneeded stuff I’ve been hanging onto for years.

By far, the biggest lesson I am learning is that minimalism is about living more intentionally, which as it turns out, is so much better than simply tidying up! It is my hope to use my blog to lay bare my thoughts during this journey in hopes that they may aid someone else on theirs.

 

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