A minimalist mindset.
Updated: May 14
Minimalism is a way of life and a mindset that I have adopted over the past 3 years. I found myself facing a challenge that caused me a tremendous amount of worry and anxiety. I was about to make a major life decision, and I needed to focus on that and not on the "things" that I managed to accumulate over my lifetime. I needed to feel light and free, not heavy and trapped by my things. I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, listened to a few minimalist podcasts, and watched a documentary called Minimalism. I got inspired and started the purge.
My ideal minimalist lifestyle is just that, something to work toward; a goal. Will my "ideal" ever be achieved? Probably not. But I like to have that vision of myself, though. As someone who doesn't need to buy things to feel good and values experiences, relationships, and connection to nature, as supreme. And someone who respects and honors our Mother Earth through a life of anti-consumerism. It's a work in progress.
It's not easy to break through years of bad habits. But, buying was a way of life. I bought to avoid looking at my internal struggles, to distract myself from the burdens I was convinced I had. I bought to feel shiny and new.
The purge of 2018 was the beginning of holding, acknowledging, and thinking about every single thing I owned. I shed the layers of life's trinkets, toys, and textiles. I was relentless and ruthless. I used this opportunity to practice giving and non-attachment. I gave clothes to those who genuinely love "dressing-up." When I gave them a dress or blouse that I bought in a sad state, the joy they experienced changed that "thing" for me. I now see it as a precious gift instead of a fancy band-aid.
My strategies for a non-consumerist life are pretty simple.
During the purge, the things that I decided to keep fall into these categories: 1. sentimental, 2. practical, 3. a gift, or 4. some combination of those things.
I keep assessing the situation.
I look in my closet and think about what I have that I don't need and what I could use that isn't there. Pre-pandemic, I was helping a friend go through her closet. We were both a little stunned when we realized how much "resort wear" we owned. We both seemingly had a collection of clothes that we mentally categorized as "resort wear." And, we were both convinced that one day, we would find ourselves at a resort, wearing these clothes. Those were the easy things to let go of.
Do I have to keep purchasing things to use this product?
I think about the things that I own that require upkeep or maintenance. Can I get away with not having this item because I can borrow, rent, or find another way to exist without it? I do. I do need to buy replacement brush heads for my Phillips electric toothbrush. I haven't figured that one out. I love my toothbrush and think my teeth are better for it.
Food and buying in bulk.
I am a vegetarian. This is a personal choice. I hope more people will make this choice for the planet and the animals. I have a minimalist mindset when it comes to my diet. I eat a primarily whole foods diet. I try to avoid plastic packaging, but it's not always possible, or should I say it's rarely possible. So, when I think about the food I consume and how to reduce my waste and stay healthy, I try to buy in bulk, buy from companies that I know are eco-conscious, and buy locally made and grown products. We try to buy things in paper or glass containers instead of plastic. I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver years ago and was inspired by the challenge she and her family took on. Each family member had one item they could cheat with; one had coffee, and one chocolate, for example. I'm challenging myself this year to actually grow my own food. I aspire to my father's example of a master gardener and my mother's example of an expert canning homesteader. Their skills were admirable.
I like to experience the joy of cooking too. I will spend time and money to create a delicious meal that I can then share. Delicious food made with love is my favorite gift to give.
I've had a thing for thrift stores since I was a 20 something living in the QC. The Salvation Army and Value Village were my favorite spots to wander among the books, media, small appliances, jewelry, clothing, and other formerly loved things. Reuse, reduce, recycle.
Buy Nothing Project
I've given and received through the Capitol Hill Buy Nothing Project. We acquired a hand drill, a bike rack, and I got a SCOBY for brewing kombucha too! The group is very active, and the items are all over the spectrum of used, gently used, tags still on, cheap and expensive. I have only walked a block or two to pick up my (like)new items.
I've hosted clothes swapping soirees. We dedicated a lunch at work to a clothes swap. Each time I've donated overflow to organizations that benefit women also families in need.
It's a mindset.
Minimalism and non-consumerism are the ideals. I'm working on distilling and refining my life down to the essence of what causes sparks and sustains joy. I'm working on every aspect and area of life, relationships, adventures, how I make money, how I eat, and how all of this is integrated into my spiritual practice.