I have a confession to make: I'm a recovering maximalist.
I used to have stuff to hold the stuff that wouldn't fit in my main stuff storage. And I just wanted more stuff. The next stuff would be better than the last stuff, and then I would finally be happy. But I was never fully satisfied with my stuff. I was stuffed.
Minimalism is about keeping what adds value to your life and getting rid of the rest. That holds true with our diet too. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and all other plant foods add value to my life. They nurture my body, they are environmentally sustainable and importantly, don't cause harm to animals. So when I found veganism, it all made perfect sense and fit beautifully with my minimalist values. It was time for me to say 'see ya later, alligator!' to the rest. What could be more minimalist than choosing to only eat what adds value?
Read on to find out how I turned my 'stuffed' attitude into one of wellness with minimalism.
How Minimalism Changed My Life
Apart from bringing me to veganism (the best decision of my life), minimalism made a difference to my life in five other really important ways.
1) It reduced my stress
In my second year of University I went flatting for the first time, and we somehow ended up with 16 plates, six sets of cutlery and more than 50 cups. For four people! The mess that this caused was awful. Instead of washing a cup or plate, we would just grab a new one. So we had a house full of dishes. It was really, really bad. One Sunday morning at 9am (with a week's worth of dishes piled up on the counter, in the lounge, and in our bedrooms) we heard a knock at the door. It was the real estate agent who was selling our house for our landlord. Apparently, we had scheduled an open home that was starting in 10 minutes.
I don't think I've ever felt that panicked in my whole life.
We ran around in a mad frenzy, hiding dishes anywhere we could find. The pantry, the fridge, dresser drawers, the microwave, even in the washing machine. Follow that up with the fact that we had hidden everything so well that when we went to properly clean up later that day, we forgot about a whole bunch of things and found them several weeks later, in a state I can't even describe. I sure learned my lesson.
After that, we gave away more than 80% of our (newly cleaned) dishes, and left ourselves with one bowl, one plate, and one cup each.
Having less isn't about restricting yourself, it's about freeing yourself.
2) Helped me save money for travelling.
And man, this is a big one. When I think about all the stuff I've bought in my whole life, how much of that was even worth it? That $35 hairspray I used once, the hundreds of items of clothing I wore only once or twice, the disappointing take away dinners I really didn't need to buy but just felt too lazy to cook - it almost makes me want to cry! I could have saved some serious $$$.
If I hadn't found minimalism, my trip to Bora Bora this year could not have happened. Buying less means saving more. And saving more means travelling more. Win-win!
3) Lowered my carbon footprint
Excessive consumption is not only bad for us, it's also causing the degradation of our planet. My personal consumption may have seemed pretty average and harmless, but times that by the number of people on this planet consuming at or above the rate that I was, and we have got a serious problem. And we do. We really do have a serious problem.
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on the planet. By becoming a minimalist, I have more than halved the number of clothes, appliances and amount of packaging that I consume, thereby reducing my contribution of greenhouse gas emissions and rainforest degradation.
4) Changed my mindset
Do I need to own fewer than 100 items to be able to call myself a minimalist? Do I have to live in a tiny house? Do I have to deprive myself of my favourite things? No. Minimalism is about owning things that add value to your life, and saying goodbye to the rest. Knowing that I can live an extraordinary life with less stuff makes me feel happy and free.
5) Enabled me to actually live my life
One time, I ordered a matching set of Calvin Klein underwear online before breakfast. When they arrived, I decided I didn't even like them, but I spent the next 100 days (that's how long the money-back guarantee was) agonising about whether or not to send them back. What a waste of time.
Now, I refuse to let myself worry about stuff. If it's not right, I sell, donate or give it away. I want to spend my days actually enjoying life - not thinking about stuff.
If you want to know more about minimalism, check out the Minimalist Documentary trailer below, and watch the full documentary on Netflix or Vimeo.
Do you have any stories about stuff or how you're changing your life with minimalism? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!