I received an email from a reader (yes, I am excited. It’s my first legit email from a reader) who was struggling with making minimalist changes after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. She asked if I had any advice, and here is my response to her.
Keep on with “less”
Don’t give up! It’s a process, I’m not there yet by any stretch and I’m still sometimes tempted to shop or make regrettable purchases. (Frankly, I’ve been tempted quite a bit this summer). Still, the mindset shift is what has been most life changing for us. The results will continue to come, slowly but surely.
Everyone is different, your goals will be different and your reasons for decluttering (or hoarding/over-shopping, etc) are different also. So you need to evaluate your reading materials based on your goals. Marie Kondo is my least favorite of all the minimalism books I have read. It wasn’t worthless by any stretch but I have come to think she is not a true minimalist at all and her main tenant (spark of joy) truly didn’t work for me.
A Spark of Change
I had to come to realize that the joy I needed to seek was completely apart from any material possessions. Obsessing over “stuff” and which item is more perfect for my needs was my MO, even though it went completely against my core belief system and values. Once I realized that my daily lifestyle and how I was spending my time didn’t jive with my deepest heartfelt convictions, was when I got truly serious about making a change. The More of Less by Joshua Becker is my favorite book on this topic. It’s incredibly life-changing, v. Marie Kondo being house-changing, if that makes sense. Totally different perspectives. Here is his website if you’d prefer some quick-read articles with the same gentle encouragement. He’s wonderful.
Faith & Minimalism
Ultimately, my faith in God is one of the reasons I have become so passionate about this topic. I want to spend my time on things that have eternal value v. temporal possessions that will become dust sooner or later. And part of this struggle for me is my personality. I find myself easily overwhelmed and distracted. The clutter, the stuff, the responsibility of unneeded possessions was weighing heavily on me. And my entire family was feeling the strain.
For weeks I would complete purging and decluttering projects every single day. Even when I was busy, I’d go through a drawer while dinner was on the stove or clean out a closet as I dealt with the laundry. When my son was in the bath I’d attack the bathroom drawers and cabinets. While watching TV I’d sort through bins of toys. Every spare moment I would devote to pursuit of the final goal. Which incidentally I have yet to reach: I want to be able to take a photo of each space in my home, every tiny nook, and share it on social media. I want to know that I have recently evaluated every possession and deemed it worthy of keeping. That’s quite a proposal for me, a messy shopaholic with poor organization skills. And I’m not there yet, but I’m way, way closer.
The more possessions I unload and the more deals I pass by, the lighter these burdens feel. The more I find myself able to focus on the things that I am passionate about. For the first time, I feel like I am capable of basic household maintenance on the daily. It’s working. My counters are clear and my mind is less chaotic. I can’t think of a single drawback that I have encountered other than a few awkward conversations when I try to explain why deals don’t thrill me the way they used to.
Maintaining a Minimalist Mindset
The typical consumer mindset has been fed by years and years of commercialism and profit-driven societal-standards. Changing this perspective requires some persistence and intentionality. It helps me to continue to watch vloggers, follow groups and websites and constantly check out more books on the topic of minimalism, simplicity, hygge, slowing down, faith, and similar topics that fall into this group I’m placing myself into. It’s a pursuit that doesn’t really end. There’s more we each have to learn.
I feel I’ve gotten off on a tangent, and I apologize but your message sparked reminders for me of why I’m happy with my direction and where I came from. I don’t want to be the girl who is always stopping by the thrift store or stalking the clearance shelves. I am not that girl anymore! Good luck on your minimalist journey! No matter how you approach it, I’m convinced you will be happier as a result.