empty handed

It’s okay to leave empty-handed

Spring time means one of my favorite Saturday morning activities is back in full swing — the farmer’s market! I love the energy there: all the people, all the different stands to look at; I love the idea of shopping local and buying fresh-picked produce and homemade treats. Plus I think donning a pair of yoga pants and a tank top and carrying my reusable produce bag just fits this image of a fit, healthy woman who has her life together, and that’s a facade I like to try and maintain. 😉

I often meet two good friends there at 9am to browse together. We typically each have things in mind we are hoping to find: greens for a salad tonight, rhubarb for a pie, local raw honey, or my personal favorite: sauerkraut! Last time I also got a gluten-free brownie, and other times I am tempted by the croissants. Boy oh boy.

Now that everyone is hungry, let me tell you what happened two weeks ago. I went there looking for sauerkraut, but the guy wasn’t there that week. I looked for local raw honey, but it was too expensive. I had already done my other shopping at the grocery store a few days earlier, so I didn’t need anything else.

So I did something that used to be difficult for me: I left empty-handed.

And that is okay.

I still had fun saying hi to people I know, and it was still fun to browse. It was still fun to get up semi-early on a Saturday and get dressed and leave the house. I still felt productive and put-together.

The only thing that was different about that week was that the farmer’s market didn’t have anything I needed. But I still gained so much from being there!

We often think we have to come away from a store or market having bought something — anything — or else it somehow wasn’t productive or wasn’t worth our time. But the trip itself isn’t a waste if you get to say hi to a friend, or if you’re like me and just enjoy being there to browse and feel the warm-weather vibes. When we frame shopping like this, we see that the only goal isn’t just to buy something.

If you find yourself someplace where you’re tempted to buy something just so you’re not walking away empty-handed, remember these mantras:

  • It will only become unproductive if I buy something I don’t need. (tweet that)
  • It will only become a waste of my time if I buy something just because I’m in a store. (tweet that)
  • I choose to save my money for something I actually want. (tweet that)

Try and see shopping as separate from buying. Shopping is the experience, the outing. Buying is a choice you can make once you’re there, based on a couple factors (Do I need this? Do I have enough money for this right now?)

Once we reframe how we look at shopping, we can begin to break the habit of compulsive buying. It might feel uncomfortable at first to leave some place empty-handed. But I feel so much power and self-control when I do now! And I love the feeling of still having that cash in my pocket that I can now put towards something I actually need.

 

 

 

buying things i need

I love buying things I need

This evening I opened a small package that came to me from Australia. It’s from a small business called Spiralocks, and it contained a hair tie made especially for people with dreadlocks. I purchased it on Etsy.

I removed my stretched-out hair elastic from my dreads and put in the Spiralock. It held my hair incredibly well and I was so glad I made the purchase!

Beyond the fact that it works, I love that my purchase supported a small business. I love that I am wearing something handmade with love. I love that it is different, unique. I have only one, so it is special to me. And it will 100% last longer than those cheap hair elastics!

It feels wonderful to make a successful purchase. To buy something you need, something that works, and something that you like. (tweet that)

I’ll admit, however, that in the past I would buy things I didn’t need, that didn’t work that great, and that I wasn’t even all that crazy about.

Why on earth did I spend my money then?!

Because I was looking for fulfillment through material things. It’s the same reason I will go buy ice cream when I’m still stuffed from dinner. It’s not healthy and it wont make me happy in the long run, but I’m remembering a time when I bought ice cream and it did make me happy, and I’m searching for that feeling again.

It’s the same with clothes or electronics (the two areas I see this happen most often.) We remember that time we bought something we needed and loved, and we chase after that feeling again.

Remember how wonderful it felt when you got your first smart phone and could finally text photos to your family? Well that was a completely different experience than five upgrades later, when there really isn’t that much new benefit you’re getting.

Sometimes we associate positive feelings with buying something, when the positive feelings really came from the benefit of the thing. But a marginal benefit hardly justifies a purchase, and can often just perpetuate our need to buy more and more, ever searching for fulfillment. (tweet that)

This is a really difficult thing to overcome. And it’s something that many (dare I say most) people struggle with. To stop buying things for fulfillment means to find actual fulfillment, which requires taking a good, hard look at oneself and one’s values. I’m not trying to give anyone a mid-life crisis, so I’ll just let you know that this is something that I am still working on, and that I support you in working on it, too.

It’s okay if it’s a life-long project. Our culture has raised us to be massive consumers, so it’s no fault of our own that this is how we are. But the future is in your hands, as are your decisions. You can chose to take back control of your priorities and your values. You can choose to end a pattern of debt and guilt. You can bring joy into your life through select, meaningful purchases. And you can open yourself up to finding fulfillment from so many other areas. I’m excited to see what we all discover!

 

Congratulations, by the way

I recently read a short book (it’s actually the transcript of a convocation address from Syracuse University, made into a short book) and it’s called Congratulations, by the way and it’s by George Saunders.

It was funny and uplifting, and free from my local library. Here’s a bit of it:

Accomplishment is unreliable. “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

I know this has been true for most of my late childhood and adult life. It’s ingrained into the system: finish this school year, on to the next. Finish high school, on to college. Graduate, get a job. Get a better job. And a better job. Upgrade your apartment. Now upgrade your furniture to match (something called the Diderot effect).

And while we are on this never-ending road to success, we usually have forgotten that we have already achieved success. Many times over.

At what point will you personally feel “done”? When have you finally done enough? And who’s “enough” is it? Yours? Your partner’s? Your parents’?

When I reached age 27 or so, my priorities changed. And I realized that the things I had spent my whole life wanting, I didn’t actually want. See this great article by Mark Manson on this exact topic.

The idea of success has blown up into an absolute must in order to have a good life. But once I redefined my idea of success, I was able to stop chasing other people’s dreams, and start working toward my own. Not only working towards them, but in some ways, living them now.

Let me tell you, as someone who spent most of her 20s feeling depressed and defeated: it feels so much better to live your real dreams than to fail at other people’s dreams. (tweet that)

color seasons

Once you learn about color seasons, nothing will ever be the same

Awhile back, I wrote an article on Fast fashion, and how detrimental it is to the environment, let alone to our lives as stress-free minimalists.

The appeal with fast fashion though, is that everybody wants to look good. And how do they try and do that? By buying the latest trendy thing. But unfortunately, not every trendy thing looks good on every person. And by buying only what’s current, and not what’s best suited for you, you’ll end up looking trendy yet not looking your best.

The way I see it, why would I ever buy something that doesn’t make me look my best? And even if it somehow does end up in my closet, why would I ever choose to wear it over something else I have?

Navigating fashion can be daunting with all the choices in styles, shapes, patterns, and colors. But I am going to share with you the single most defining factor that I now take into account when shopping. Learning this has had the biggest impact on my wardrobe and the way I see clothing in general. It has helped me to always look my best, with the least amount of effort.

This secret wisdom is: color seasons.

I learned everything I know from Mimi Ikonn, youtuber and ex-image consultant. I’ll share the same video that I watched, but first I’ll give a brief rundown of what she talks about.

What are color seasons?

Just as there are four seasons of the year, so there are color seasons. You might have heard someone say that they are “a spring”. It sounds odd if you don’t understand it, but once you get it, it will change everything.

The formula

It couldn’t be simpler. There are four choices (spring, summer, autumn, winter), and which one you are is based on your unique combination of skin tone and hair shade. Skin tones are either pink undertone or yellow undertone and hair shades are either dark hair or light hair.

For example: I have yellow undertone skin and dark brown hair. So I am an autumn. Back in high school when I dyed my hair blond, I had light hair with my yellow undertone skin, so I was a spring.

Pink undertone skin with dark hair is a winter; pink undertone skin with light hair is a spring.

It can be a little tricky to determine if you have pink or yellow undertone skin, but Mimi gives a couple ways to decipher. Some people have neutral skin (equally pink and yellow), and luckily for them they can pull off multiple color seasons!

Okay, I know my color season. Now what?

The point of determining your color season is that now you have essentially a custom color palette from which to choose your clothes. These are colors that will always look stunning on you.

As Mimi points out, there is no rule against wearing colors not in your color season. But again it goes back to wanting to look your best. You can surely wear any color you like — but why wouldn’t you always choose the colors that make you look awesome?

As someone who desires to keep a small wardrobe, finding out this epic not-so-secret secret made it so much easier to go through my existing wardrobe and narrow it down. I literally got rid of every piece I owned that wasn’t within my custom color palette. A lot of those clothes were iffy to me already, and now I know why. I could have loved the dress, but for some reason it just didn’t look quite right on me. Once I learned about color seasons, it all made sense.

Here’s Mimi’s first video. Her second video can be found here. I highly recommend watching both, as she goes through everything you need to know, plus actually shows you the different colors in each season, so you have a starting off point.

I can’t tell you how many friends (and unsuspecting customers at the coffee shop) I have shared this with. It really changed my whole perspective, and made keeping a minimalist wardrobe so easy!

Why I don’t want an engagement ring

Like most little girls, I dreamed of meeting my prince charming, getting a perfectly romantic proposal, and throwing an extravagant wedding where I would look fabulous and have all the attention.

I dreamed of the venue and the cake and the princess cut. How huge the dress would be, how many bridesmaids I would have and what I’d make them all wear and do.

I guess I assumed the rest would just sort itself out (ie the actual marriage and life with somebody) because I never gave those things much thought.

Now that I’m an adult and look at the world on much more realistic terms, I’m a bit flabbergasted by how many women still look at things the way I did as a six year old.

With so much emphasis put on the material and so little put on the permanent — the marriage itself — only about half do end up being permanent (which should be a staggering statistic but we’re all quite used to it by now).

I wonder, if 90% of the attention was placed on making sure both partners were actually compatible, and then a measly 10% was spent on the party: would a lot of marriages-to-be get cancelled before the big day?

Research shows the more couples spend on an engagement ring and wedding, the higher and quicker chance of divorce. (tweet that)

Yet there is still so much value placed on the fancy jewelry and the expensive bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings. At one time I might have wanted a 200 person guest list but that was before I realized money doesn’t just appear in my father’s wallet without him actually working for it.

When I was a child living in a cluttered home with the freedom to buy things as I pleased, I never imagined that one day I would find minimalism and renounce my attachment to materialism. Everything about my lifestyle and world view is different now, and no longer can I enjoy even the fantasy of a ring and a big wedding. It’s just not my style anymore and in fact it couldn’t be farther from what I want for myself.

I was talking with a friend about this the other day, as we noted how some friends have had their childhood dreams of marriage come true, whereas we have not. But I explained to her that this is because our dreams have changed. I no longer wish for my childhood dreams to come true!

I have new dreams. Dreams of a partner with whom I’m compatible in a real way, in terms of our lifestyle and our goals and desires for the future. I dream of a simple life where I am happy and have everything I need and nothing more.

I dream of a long-lasting relationship based on solid shared values, that we both actively work on to maintain. I dream of something that maybe only he and I can truly see, with nothing to show off to the outside world.

This is what I want so much more than a ring.

But couldn’t I have both? Isn’t it possible to have the ring and big wedding, and a long-lasting relationship?

Sure it is. But I still don’t want the ring.

I have a list of reasons specific to me personally, ranging from a lack of wearing jewelry in general; to disliking when jewelry snags on clothing or my hair; to preferring to put that money towards a honeymoon, home, or savings; to the morally questionable expectation that a man should spend 3 months’ salary (25% of his annual earnings!) on a ring; to the fact it could easily get lost or stolen; and of course the ethical reasons for avoiding diamonds.

And yet I understand that to some women, an engagement ring brings joy. One of my closest friends absolutely adores her ring and its reminder of her loving husband and marriage every time she looks at it. For her an engagement ring was indeed a good choice!

Everyone is different and even those within the minimalist community have different priorities and different ideas of what they want and don’t want, need and don’t need.

If you’re wondering if I want to have a wedding, I’m not sure yet. Do I want an official marriage? I think so, yes. But when the right person and I decide to commit ourselves to each other, that in itself is the big, exciting moment. I don’t need a party to emphasize it. I could definitely see a small gathering — maybe a backyard reception for close friends and family — being a really fun and lovely way to celebrate. Something simple.

An engagement lasts a few months, a wedding lasts a day, and a marriage lasts, hopefully, forever. However you chose to celebrate and document these occasions is a personal choice. I hope this post encourages readers to find what feels right for you, despite what traditions may exist.

Whatever they are, I hope your current dreams come true.

tips for simple spring cleaning

3 Simple ideas to jet-set your spring cleaning

Spring has sprung and there’s lots to do around the house. This is why I prefer having a small apartment :).

For those who want to get a jump start of the cleaning game but are feeling overwhelmed with too much on the to do list, here are a couple simple ideas to get the momentum going while also making your cleaning process more streamlined and efficient.

1. Clean your cleaning supplies

Rummage around under your sinks and in your garage and round up all your different cleaning supplies. What do you need to have on hand? What’s old and can be tossed?

If you need to buy a few new items, take this opportunity to buy natural or sustainable products. I felt so guilty using so many paper towels, so I invested in some natural wood fiber cleaning cloths. I use these just like paper towels to wipe up my kitchen counters. For other cleaning rags, I like to recycle an old tshirt or something which was stained or had a hole. No need to throw out an old tshirt and then go buy rags!

For cleaning solutions, I like the Mrs. Meyer’s line in the Basil scent for the kitchen. It makes your clean counter smell like yummy food (an idea which sounded gross to me until a coworker enlightened me years ago!) Other than that, I love just using vinegar and baking soda!

Throw out (or give away) any supplies you no longer need. Kept those leather wipes long after getting rid of your leather furniture? Don’t hang on to them a day longer! Have some old scrubbing brushes that are just too gross? If they’re past saving, don’t save them. Having only the supplies you need will make grabbing the right ones faster and your cleaning more efficient.

2. Prioritize

I recently helped a friend move into her new apartment. She was feeling overwhelmed with all her boxes of things all over the place. We decided to tackle the kitchen first, and once that was done, all her stress melted away — even though the other rooms were still filled with boxes! I’ve found time and time again that having one clean and finished room not only gives you momentum to then tackle the rest, but it also gives you a restful place where you can look to feel at peace amidst the chaos everywhere else.

When I have a lot of cleaning to do, I break it down and prioritize. If a room like the bathroom sounds too involved, try the bedroom first. If all it takes is picking up a few clothes and then vacuuming, you can get that checked off your list and feel so accomplished! Work on the bathroom another day. Or, break up the work of the bathroom. Just wipe the sink and tidy the toiletries today. Do the toilet tomorrow and the shower in a few days. No need to bundle it all together and make a day of it.

3. Clean as you go

This is a hard habit to stick for some people. But if you do little bits of tidying every day, you will have less to clean at the end of the week or month. For example, put your clothes away every night; put away the dry dishes from the dish rack before adding new wet ones; wipe up any spills when they are still wet, and soak your dishes so washing them is less strenuous.

Especially try to keep the areas clean that you prioritized first. The last thing you want is for those rooms to get messy again before you’ve even gotten to the next project!

I’ve found that when a room is clean, even a small mess or item out of place sticks out like a sore thumb, so you might not need any reminder beyond that. But if you do, a helpful tip is to put a little sticky note above your light switches. When you go to turn off the lights each night, the note will remind you to take a quick scan of the room for any out-standing item or spill. After a few days of letting the habit form, you can remove the sticky notes.

What are your tips for more effective home cleaning?

The Diderot Effect: Why you buy more and more things

There’s something called the Diderot Effect. And it might be the reason you bought all that stuff.

What it is

In short, The Diderot Effect happens when you buy one thing and now feel like you have to buy another thing to go with the first thing.

Examples:

  • You move into a new apartment, so you buy all new furniture even though your previous furniture is fine and would suit the space
  • You buy a new laptop, so you buy a new case for it even though it’s the same size as your old laptop and fits in the old case
  • You are given new kitchen towels, so you buy new placemats to match the towels even though it wasn’t that long ago you bought your original placemats

The Diderot Effect makes us think we need to buy more things, when, until we bought the first new thing, we were perfectly satisfied with our previous things. It’s the comparison relative to the new thing that changes our perspective on our other things.

How the concept came about is both amusing and sad. Here it is, according to Wikipedia:

The effect was first described in Diderot’s essay “Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown”. Here he tells how the gift of a beautiful scarlet dressing gown leads to unexpected results, eventually plunging him into debt. Initially pleased with the gift, Diderot came to rue his new garment. Compared to his elegant new dressing gown, the rest of his possessions began to seem tawdry and he became dissatisfied that they did not live up to the elegance and style of his new possession.

 

He replaced his old straw chair, for example, with an armchair covered in Moroccan leather; his old desk was replaced with an expensive new writing table; his formerly beloved prints were replaced with more costly prints, and so on. “I was absolute master of my old dressing gown”, Diderot writes, “but I have become a slave to my new one … Beware of the contamination of sudden wealth. The poor man may take his ease without thinking of appearances, but the rich man is always under a strain”.

The Diderot Effect can sneak its way into multiple areas of our lives. From our wardrobe to our home decor, the human desire for unity among our possessions can mean that an upgrade in one might make us long for an upgrade to them all. And before we know it, we’ve redone our entire home or closet.

I’ve even seen this within the minimalist community. When an aspiring minimalist hops on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon, some of the less-aware might head out to the store and buy an all new black-grey-and-white wardrobe. Now they’re all set to become a minimalist. But wait, they just spent all this money on clothes they didn’t need, when they could have paired down their existing wardrobe in true minimalist fashion.

It’s an easy trap to fall into.

But it’s hard when we want our homes and our styles to look nice. Especially with trends changing by the season. This is why I prefer to keep a simple, classic wardrobe. One that doesn’t scream trendy but doesn’t appear outdated either. It isn’t obviously missing any pieces so I am at a low risk of introducing new things and thus starting the Diderot Effect.

How to prevent it

So, what can you do once you’ve bought something new? First, be very mindful what you bring into your home. Whether it was purchased by you or a gift from a friend, if it doesn’t fit with your other possessions, reconsider keeping it. Do you want those new, fancy chairs even though they make your IKEA table look cheap sitting next to them? Maybe it’s best to keep your current chairs rather than mix up your styles and make the room look awkward until you cave and buy a new table.

Second, if you’re sure you want to keep the new item, are there changes you can make that don’t require making other purchases? For example, could you paint the table or DIY a nice faux finish on it to make it look more expensive and match the new chairs? Could you borrow a friend’s dress to wear with the new shoes you bought instead of heading to the store to buy a new one?

Third, narrow down your current possessions. Once you’ve narrowed down your things enough to where you’re satisfied, you will likely have a general style sense or aesthetic you like. All your clothes will probably fit within the same style. The pieces in your living room will likely coordinate well enough. Figuring out your style is a good step in preventing future purchases outside that style. But if your style is all over the place, that opens up all sorts of options to buy, which opens up only more and more new things to go with it.

Awareness is the first step to changing habits, and finding out about the Diderot Effect has helped me be more mindful when I shop. Knowing that it’s a slippery slope keeps me ahead of the temptation for more, and helps me make better money decisions. Plus I think this sort of stuff is just fascinating to learn about.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the references in the Wikipedia article, or read Diderot’s full essay.

 

We survived 10 days using a mini fridge

We once stayed 10 days in an AirBnB studio apartment that had a dorm-size refrigerator. At first we worried it wouldn’t be sufficient to hold anything, but we quickly realized it actually offered more than enough space.

Two people staying 10 days doesn’t lend itself to a lot of food hoarding. Think of what’s typically consuming space in your fridge: the average person has an extensive condiment collection, one that has taken months to accumulate and maintain; then there’s a few gallons of milk, orange juice, and other beverages; they might have stocked up on bread and cheese, plus other bulk purchases or “two for one” deals that get you to buy more than you need. (Pro tip: when something is, let’s say, 3 for $5, you don’t actually have to buy 3 to get the deal. One will cost $1.67. (tweet that)) 

But, thanks to preservatives and extra space in the typical fridge, you can take your time and leave things in there awhile! And meanwhile, keep buying more!

When you’re only going to be somewhere for 10 days, you don’t stock up. You buy what you need and keep ingredient lists pretty simple.

Dinners usually consisted of rice, chicken, and vegetables. We’d buy the chicken the day of from a local shop, and bought only a few vegetables at a time which we kept in the fridge.

Another meal staple for us was sandwiches, which required sliced meat, mayo, and sprouts in the fridge, as well as any left over tomato and avocado. The lettuce we bought just happened to be hydroponic (it still had the roots on it) so we kept it in a bowl of water on the counter.

We bought a ton of fresh fruit because there were awesome farmer-owned fruit stands all over, and the fruit tasted amazing where we were visiting. This was a major part of our diets during our stay, and most of it didn’t need to be refrigerated. Also, eggs are perfectly fine outside the fridge, which blew my American mind.

Other miscellaneous refrigerated items included orange juice, apple sauce pouches, some butter, and a mini soy sauce.

Sometimes being forced into tight quarters shows you how little space you need. My boyfriend even remarked during our stay that he really doesn’t need his full-size fridge at home, and that he might switch to an efficiency-size (in between the dorm-size and the full-size).

One downside of that small fridge was that it was in a cabinet only a few inches off the floor. Bending down to get everything wasn’t as easy as standing up surveying your options. If I had a small fridge like that at home, I’d put it up higher!

I know for larger families, big refrigerators can be useful. Although how much of what’s in there actually needs to be refrigerated? Can your bread, butter, fruit, or eggs go on the counter/in the pantry? I know some people refrigerate everything, even apples, which is so strange to me! (Cold apples hurt my teeth biting into them.) But to each his own.

As for us, we learned on that trip that we can live with less than we have. Which is always an empowering feeling.

I’ve written before about buying groceries, and how stocking up can be tempting but can lead to way too much. I’ve realized that I prefer buying fresh foods more frequently, over buying frozen stuff that will last longer. Doing it this way lends itself to a smaller fridge, fresher food, and a more organized supply.

That’s what I’m trying these days. What about you?

You can never get enough of what you don’t need

While clearing out my Pinterest boards the other day (I feel really lame typing that but that’s part of my digital decluttering regime and it’s helpful don’t judge me) I came across this pin with a quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks that I wanted to share:

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need wont satisfy you.” — Elder Dallin H. Oaks (tweet that)

Wow! This is so true. I have seen this in my own life with:

  • Clothes
  • Anything to do with social media (likes, followers)
  • Excessive or unhealthy food
  • Mindless entertainment
  • Drama in relationships
  • Home decor

The list could go on.

I used to spend so much money or time on those things, and they either brought temporary satisfaction followed by buyers remorse and sadness, or they brought nothing at all — only more emptiness.

We cannot fill a void with meaningless things. It’s like trying to fill a hole in the ground with air and expecting to walk safely across it without falling in. The hole is still there. We need to fill it with something solid.

What can you incorporate into your life that will actually satisfy you?

I think things that truly satisfy are often things that take hard work and dedication (I know, ew.)

Things like:

  • a healthy diet + exercise
  • nurturing healthy relationships
  • dedicated mindfulness / meditation / prayer time
  • progress toward a hobby or business
  • learning a new skill

Those are things which require energy and some motivation. Things like mindless entertainment require none of that and can be much more tempting after a long day at work. But they only lead to less energy and less motivation to self-improve.

Fill your life with the things you need. Things I’ve been putting energy towards lately, to try and achieve satisfaction in my life, are: this blog, learning Spanish, and exercising regularly. These things have brought happiness to my life because I can see my progress. I know I’m doing meaningful things which bring me joy and fulfillment. I value my life so much more doing these things than I did when I watched countless hours of YouTube videos and sat on the couch snacking all day.

Sometimes finding direction is hard. We don’t always know what we need and what we don’t need. It might take some trial and error. But when you do recognize patterns or habits that you don’t need, try and eliminate them! There is so much more to life, so much more happiness to be had.

aspiring minimalist

Why are you still just an “aspiring” minimalist?

Something I’ve seen a lot lately while browsing Twitter for new friends to follow is people labeling themselves as an “aspiring minimalist”.

Aspiring? Aspiring to me sounds dreamy, like those far off dreams we have of living on an island and being a surf instructor, when we have never even touched a surf board. It lacks the concreteness of reality.aspire definition

Why limit yourself?

If you “want very much” to be a minimalist, why not be one?

Perhaps those self-defined aspiring minimalists are just waiting to find the time to go through all their belongings. Maybe they long for a clutter-free home, yet see the process as so grand and daunting, they can never quite seem to spare an afternoon.

I invite them to find 30 minutes to clear one junk drawer.

Perhaps there are some aspiring minimalists who have taken those first steps, gone through the KonMari method with their wardrobe, and yet still don’t feel they’ve quite achieved “minimalist” status.

To them I say, you don’t have to live in an empty room to call yourself a minimalist. (tweet that)

How do you become a “minimalist”?

Minimalism can be a long, slow process. For some it can take years. You don’t have to wait until your mission is complete before claiming your title.

I don’t remember when I first started calling myself a minimalist. I think it was when I realized how much physical clutter affects me and when my perspective on possessions changed. With my new perspective came my new label.

But in retrospect, I’ve always been a minimalist — I just didn’t realize it for many years. I lived in clutter for most of my life, and felt the emotional repercussions of it. I was a minimalist living in a cluttered house.

Do you have to wait until you’ve achieved Christ-like perfection before calling yourself a Christian? Or wait until you’re floating around in enlightenment before calling yourself a meditator? Or until you can bend in ways previously thought impossible before calling yourself a yogi? No. These things are practices, lifestyles, or ways of life. They are ideologies you can choose to follow because they resonate with you.

Minimalism isn’t as extreme as you think it is

We often picture a minimalist as someone who sits on the bare floor of an all-white apartment with maybe, maybe, a glass of water and a lamp in the corner.

Minimalism is not that extreme.

Everyday people living everyday lives can be minimalists. Your neighbor or child’s teacher or coworker might be one and you don’t even know it!

Minimalism doesn’t even have to be a huge change for you. You might find that you only have a few extra things around the house that aren’t serving you — yet what a difference it makes to remove them!

Making the jump

If you resonate with the ideas of minimalism, you are a minimalist. If you’re a minimalist and haven’t started decluttering your home or changing your purchasing habits yet, I invite you to start now. It’s uncomfortable to live counter to what feels true to you. And living with intention feels so much better.