If you’re anything like I was, when you think of minimalism you think of stark white walls, an absence of warmth and colour. And although minimalism as an art form embraces those things, minimalism as a way of reducing everyday stress is actually about making room for more.
At least, that’s what I’ve discovered.
I’ve seen some people go all in with minimalism. Trying to make sure everything they own fits in a backpack, or not having any furniture, or selling everything they own.
My own experience with minimalism is more about removing anything that doesn’t make me happy or serve a purpose.
I’m a big reader. I like books. And I like having a bookshelf filled with books. It makes me happy. I could get rid of them all to make some physical space, but it would feel like a hole in my life. My books don’t feel like clutter. They don’t stress me out. So the books stay.
In my kitchen, on the other hand, are a load of branded mugs I’ve picked up as free gifts at corporate events.
I don’t need them: I have plenty left over even when guests are around.
I don’t like them: I always choose them last, when my favourite mugs are in the dishwasher.
So they go to the nearest charity shop. This has several results.
Firstly, I have less cleaning to do. It makes sense, right? If you use a bunch of stuff in your kitchen you have to clean a bunch of stuff afterwards. If you only use one or two things you only have to clean one or two things. The less time I spend cleaning, the more time I have to spend on things I actually enjoy.
Secondly, I don’t have to look at these things that I don’t like every day. Why should I put up with things I don’t like when I could surround myself with things I love?
It’s this method of paring down non-essentials which leaves me with only the things I truly enjoy at the end of the day. Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything. It’s about getting rid of things that don’t make me happy.
So maybe minimalism is the wrong word. Maybe what I’m looking for is closer to essentialism, or getting-rid-of-shit-I-hate-ism.
All I’ve realised is that my stuff can be divided into three piles: the things I need, the things I like, and the things I don’t like.
I don’t like my mop and bucket. But I need it.
I don’t like my corporate branded mugs. I don’t need them either.
So long, mugs.