As my husband and I dive deeper into living a minimalist lifestyle, we are slowly sharing this change with the people around us. Today we were asked how becoming minimalists has improved our lives. As expected, we have less to maintain and clean and more time for the things that we value. But I knew I had another answer; one I wasn’t able to answer in the moment. Something bigger. Something life changing. This is what I didn’t get the chance to share…
To Be Expected
When I started my decluttering journey (Could it already be 3 years ago?), I was looking to create breathing space in my home. I swept through our kitchen like a tornado, getting rid of plates, bowls, cups, glasses, silverware, gadgets, pots, and pans. Now, we only have what we use on a daily/weekly basis. I have less to maintain, clean, and store.
I mimicked this tornado-like journey in every area of our home. No nook, closet, or drawer was safe from my decluttering storm.
While, I have less to maintain, clean, and store; I still have to maintain my home, clean clothes and floors, and store the few items we still own. My kids still drag their toys and papers across our home, leaving a trail for me to follow (though I am not lost and do not need a trail to follow).
And while I am glad that I have less to maintain, clean, and store. My decluttering journey has not completely freed me from these tasks, because these tasks are a part of our daily life, no matter how big or small our home is.
There are still days I get frustrated with the toys, the clean clothes in the laundry basket, the dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and the dirty dishes on the counter awaiting to be cleaned.
So while YES, it is true that decluttering has improved my life in these areas, it hasn’t been a magical change where my home stays tidy 24/7. But there has been an unexpected improvement in my life from decluttering. An improvement that I never could have predicted when I started my decluttering journey.
All That Matters
When you give away 90 percent of your possessions. You learn a lot about what is important and how you want to live in this world. You start to grow from the inside out into a person that can stand up to a consumer driven world and begin to follow your passions. All that remains is the stuff that matters! Here is what I didn’t expect to get out of minimalism:
Decluttering has taught me a big lesson - Possessions don’t matter!
In our consumer driven world, it’s hard to believe this. We are told that we need that expensive big screen TV and huge sectional. We need to have the cutest nursery for our newborn. We need the latest trends in fashion to show those around us that we are hip (Do people say hip anymore?) And our kids need to be surrounded by a plethora of toys so they know we love them.
These messages are all lies. Possessions don’t matter. Sure, we need a place to call home, to feel safe. It’s nice to have a comfy place to sit and sleep. And it’s important to have food, a place to store our food, cook, and a place to eat. But whether you are sleeping on a clean floor in a sleeping bag or in an expensive bed full of expensive linens, your needs are being met.
We can have happiness, love, and joy in the minimalist of homes. All that other stuff, it’s just not necessary.
Decluttering has set me free - Dreams Are Meant to Be Followed
I dream of traveling, of seeing the world. Maybe even traveling to another country to serve and help others in need.
Instead of pursuing those dreams, I told myself I was too afraid to travel, that I was incapable of doing something that exciting. My duty was to work, to make money, to spend money, to make a home, to fill our home with stuff. There was no money left over for travel. There was no room left to dream of leaving this country to adventure into the unknown. My life of service was to my stuff, to maintaining, cleaning, and storing the items I mindlessly purchased in the pursuit of a life I never really wanted.
Once I let go of my stuff, my mind opened up. I found myself in an upward cycle. A positive tornado of sorts. With less stuff to maintain, clean, and store; I had more time to read inspiring stories (My Year with Eleanor, Notes From a Blue Bike, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, etc). I find myself dreaming more.
And because I’m not in a continual shopping loop, looking for the next best trendy item to add to my home, I am saving money. Money that we are able to save for travel. We are so close to completing our 50 state goal! And after that, I hope to travel abroad. And someday travel to a place where I can be in service to others.
Decluttering has opened my heart - To Be Married Is to Follow Your Values Together
When you stop putting your focus on the material world and shift your focus to the internal, you can bond with your spouse in a deep and emotional level that heals and excites.
That’s sounds pretty huge, but think about it. When you were dating, you would talk about your dreams and hopes with each other. Those dreams are a window into your values and if you connect or feel inspired by the each other’s vision, you start dreaming together.
Then we get married and start facing all the burdens of life together. Those struggles pull us out of our dreams and into the reality of this world. And this world tells us what is important - the size of our home, career success, and all that is material in this world. Before we know it, we are more focused on maintaining our new lifestyle and our successful image, than on our relationships.
When we decluttered our home, we found ourselves talking about our dreams again. Our conversations turned from furniture shopping, what our next big purchase would be, and frustrations over all the things we could not afford to conversations about our hopes and values.
In a way we were dating again. Because we weren’t burdened by the desires of this world, we could turn inward and remember our true passions. Because we weren’t working in order to spend money and grow our lifestyle, we became free to talk about changing our lifestyle to better follow our passions. And because we weren’t stressed out with trying to live a bigger lifestyle; we felt happy to listen, support, and grow together in a new direction.
Our marriage has flourished in our minimalist lifestyle. We have been able to let go of all that does not matter. And in doing so, found ourselves investing in all that does matter - LOVE.
Minimalism has been a gift in my life. It has improved my life in the external ways - less to maintain, clean, and store. But more importantly, it has improved my life internally - I am happier, stronger, more adventurous, and it has healed and grown my marriage from the inside out.