2020 had been the biggest blow to modern society in a long time. The pandemic was brutal and I don’t know about the rest of you, but by the time July hit that year, I was panicked and worn out. Two years later the panic has subsided, but life doesn’t feel the same and neither do I.
I used to love getting new things. It was a wonder I didn’t have multiple storage units spanning the country. I’d work hard and shop hard too, then at the end of the day, I would lay around and not be productive. Day in and day out was the same thing in life. It felt tedious, but I had already been doing it for so long that I just assumed that’s who I was.
Thus began my long-winded journey from a maximalist to a minimalist, or in general, just living simply and less like a hoarder.
Balance Through Simplicity helped to get me in a mindset to get started. For me, the change was scary, but they made it seem so simple. That doesn’t mean it was easy – I had a difficult time letting go of who I was in order to see who I wanted to be.
The author goes over a few things that I think would stick out to almost everyone. One is taking action with purpose, not just for the sake of doing something. For example, you’re bored at home so you play on your phone, you check social media a million times over, and then the next thing you know a couple of hours have passed. You could instead use that time to learn a new skill or hang out with friends or family. Taking action with intention is extremely important.
Another great one that’s a bit more common is prioritizing self-care. In recent years you may have heard about self-care a lot, especially from millennials like myself. But it applies to everyone because when you take care of yourself, you can give your best to others.
My favorite one though is general decluttering. I say general decluttering because when you mention clutter, people typically think of their physical items, but it’s more than that. The author makes a point to talk about decluttering your mind and schedule as well to make more time for what matters most in life. Sure, getting rid of the things you don’t need is important, but the real change comes from within.
After going through all this myself, I learned some very valuable lessons on living simply. A very important step is to not live outside your means. This one was challenging – I won’t lie. I loved going out with friends for drinks and fancy dinners, however, the next day I’d look at my bank account and regret every sip of the gin and tonic I took. I’d become stressed till the next payday and push back bills or drive my car on a gallon of gas.
I’d just keep telling myself I just have to last till the next paycheck, but it wasn’t ever worth the stress, so I stopped. When I had the money, I would go out to dinner and take trips, and I would enjoy my life – but now, I come home and remember I don’t have to worry about the lights going off because I spent my last $20 on the movies or a spontaneous trip to Florida.
The other big lesson I learned was to appreciate what I did have and not compare it to others. Seeing people wear the latest clothes or buying new cars or fancy houses makes someone who is not there yet feel inadequate. I was that someone and I know there are others who feel the same. When I started to appreciate all that I had, like an apartment, a loving partner, food, and a functional car, I started to realize that though those things on social media or TV are nice, and one day I would like to have them, but I don’t need them. I don’t need the latest car, a fancy house, or an overly priced miniature handbag – I just need my health and the love of those around me.
Living simply isn’t about living in the middle of nowhere. It’s all about slowing down and living for yourself, not for others or for material possessions.
It isn’t an easy transition, but I think it’s necessary. Reevaluate your priorities and live simply – you might discover something about yourself you hadn’t noticed before.