Several of my friends who set out to live the minimalist lifestyle seem to be uniform in their assessment that, although it was initially very hard to pare down their possessions, they’re ultimately much happier than they’ve ever been. Until now, I’ve always resisted making the same lifestyle change, but have decided I just might make the leap in 2016. I’ll explain some of the reasons why below. Perhaps my own conclusions on embracing minimalism will give some food for thought.
I Want More Freedom to Be a Citizen of the World
In the past 15 years, I have moved from Korea to Hong Kong to India, then to back to Korea, and finally to the United States. With the help of some very understanding friends and family members, I was able to accomplish those major moves. However, I kept saying to myself: “I’ve got to downsize, because it’s too much of a hassle to keep hauling stuff around.”
This was especially so, since my time in India was spent exclusively in a boarding school that required us to pack and unpack our entire lives 4 times a year (they made us switch rooms every semester). With each passing semester, my belongings seemed to increase exponentially. By the time I graduated from high school and had to pack up my life in India for good – I realized I had to pare everything down to 2 suitcases.
Fortunately for me, I was able to sell most of my excess belongings to eager underclassmen. Each article of clothing had a price tag of 10 rupees, or 15 cents in US currency. The fact that I made roughly $50 USD should show just how much of a closet hoarder I used to be.
Although I’m happily settled in the States now, I don’t want the number of possessions I have to be a possible obstacle if I want to make another move in the future. The way I see it, if I only keep what I truly need, it’ll be much easier to pack everything away — either in suitcases, shipping crates or storage sheds, and explore the world. The freedom minimalism can bring seems to be one of the various reasons why people decide to give it a try.
I Know There’s More to Life Than the Things I Own
About six months ago, a friend of mine lost most of her possessions in a house fire. She had homeowner’s insurance, so many of the things were replaced, but I noticed a curious thing as I watched her deal with the aftermath of the event. Instead of becoming distraught that her clothes, tech items and furniture were ruined, she continually expressed how grateful she was that her dog was unharmed, and that she was also able to get out of the house without major injuries. Furthermore, my friend was able to rely on a strong network of people she knew who graciously offered their beds, couches and listening ears as she got her life back on track.
In her situation, it would have been natural for anyone to think about all the material things that were lost. Somehow, though, my friend admirably realized there’s more to life than things that are bought in stores. As I watched her behavior, I began adopting that perspective, too. My friend’s life is different now, but also seems to be much richer despite the lack of material things.
I Often Think About People Who Are Less Fortunate
A few months ago, I volunteered at a clothing drive in my town where all the proceeds went to Syrian refugees. Thousands of people came forward with their arms loaded with attire, some of which had never been worn. At that time, I was only in a position to donate a few items of my own, but I’d really like to clean out my closet for a good cause.
I’m lucky enough to have plenty of clothes to see me through all four seasons. However, some people in the world, and even in my own community, aren’t nearly so lucky. Once I get serious about the minimalist lifestyle, I’ll be able to make sure some of my clothes go to people who will truly use them and wear them more often than I ever could.
I’d Really Like to Spend Less on Clothes
While I love the concept and principles behind the capsule wardrobe idea, I don’t think I’ll be able to adopt it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a capsule wardrobe is when you pare down your entire wardrobe to a fixed number of items (including jewelry, accessories and shoes) and only wear those items for a set amount of time – usually a season or two.
However, my style is just too versatile for me to restrict myself to that kind of extreme. Clothes have always been a passion of mine and I happen to be an emotional dresser. So while having a compact wardrobe might be liberating for others, it would be stressful for me.
That being said, I do want to simplify my wardrobe in a way that is more realistic for me. So I’ll be limiting my shopping trips to only a handful of times a year, and making sure they’re timeless staples. I’m also seriously considering a work uniform. Since I spend most of my days at work, it would be a huge time and money saver for me to wear the same outfit five days out of the week.
I’d Really Like to Spend Less on Meals
Recently, I started using a finance tracking app that shows me exactly where my money goes each month. I was astounded to see that I spent $400 on groceries last month, and almost half that amount more on dinners out. Thinking about those things I bought, I realized that many of them were not necessary, because they were pre-packaged meals or luxury foods that I was just buying as special treats.
Even if I just start making honest efforts to cook meals that can easily become leftovers throughout the week, and don’t give into temptation so much when it comes to eating out, I’m sure I’d be amazed at how much money I could save. Sure, my cupboards might look a little bare compared to what I’m used to, but I wouldn’t starve, and might even start getting more creative with the ingredients that are on hand.
These are just some of the most compelling factors that have made me realize now is a good time to become a minimalist. Before I really get started, though, I’m going to get the advice and support of people who have already done away with what they don’t need. With their help, I think I’ll feel well equipped to embark on a new way of life, and feel excited about what the future holds.
How do you flirt with minimalist ideas in your own life?