I know this is unlike my usual posts, but since I love to help you guys to become the best version of yourselves on your minimalism journeys, I simply must point you in the direction of my favourite author on Medium, Anthony Moore.
With thirty-five thousand followers, Anthony Moore writes about how you can live an extraordinary life on your own terms. In fact, he is the author responsible for giving me the confidence to start this blog. Now, in his mission to help you soar to the life of your dreams, he’s released a book called ‘What Extraordinary People Know’.
And it’s as inspiring as ever.
Having overcome serious life challenges, meeting failure time and again, and coming out the other side a successful man, Anthony knows what it takes to escape mediocrity and live a fulfilling life.
Anthony’s book is easy to read and addresses many of the beliefs that keep us living below our potential. If you want to take your life to the next level, or are looking for a hearty dose of motivation, you owe yourself to read Anthony’s book.
Make the choice to escape mediocrity, today!
Those of you who live in the UK can pre-order Anthony’s book here
And those of you that live in the US can order it right here
New minimalists often make the mistake of thinking that minimalism is all about sparsity and getting rid of stuff. But once all of the excess is out of the way, it’s less about stuff and more about intentional living.
By that, I mean that you have more time on your hands and you decide what to do with that time.
One of the life-changing things I practised was incorporating a healthy dose of relaxation into my schedule.
In today’s fast-paced society, many of us have lost the ability to relax. And I don’t mean sitting in front of the TV binging on Netflix or surfing the internet; I mean true, hardcore relaxation. No technology, no stress, just gentle, relaxing activities.
At first, it was hard because I was so used to always being on the go cleaning, tidying, cooking, washing up, going to work and parenting. I was always in a state of ‘what next?’.
Even when I thought I was relaxing by playing my Playstation or watching TV, I wondered why I still felt wired.
You see, by relying on technology, all I was doing was keeping my mind in a heightened state of arousal and chasing an endless stream of dopamine hits – the complete opposite of relaxing!
But once you understand how, true relaxation is easier than you think.
Below, are some of my most used relaxation techniques, which will lift the weight from your soul and leave you feeling like a gently flowing stream instead of a crashing tidal wave.
Lighting a scented candle To create a calming atmosphere, there’s nothing quite like lighting a scented candle. It doesn’t have to be scented, though, and you can even buy natural beeswax candles if you’re sensitive to the usual ones you can buy.
I like to dim all the lights, close the blinds, and indulge in the soft light cast by the flame. Never leave a candle unattended, though, or near a flammable source!
Play soft music I find chillhop and low-fi music can be especially calming and puts me into a zen-like state very fast. That’s because listening to music, especially of a relaxing variety, can lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
Combined with the scented candle, it’s a sure fire way to let your stress go.
Soft lighting I briefly mentioned lighting when talking about the candle, but to put your mind into a state of relaxation, it’s best to use soft, low lighting.
This is because leaving your lights on full will have a blue-light effect similar to the screens on our devices. It can suppress your melatonin levels (the hormone responsible for helping us to sleep) and leave you restless.
Soft, comfortable clothes This one speaks for itself because feeling light and comfortable will help you to get comfier much faster.
A hot bath with oils or bubble bath If you have a bath, I recommend some nice stress-relieving muscle soak or oils. And instead of treating it like a mission to get clean, just lay back and indulge in the warmth and tranquility.
Just be careful not to get so relaxed you fall asleep!
A beverage of your choice My own beverage of choice is usually a herbal tea such as chamomile, which is known for its calming properties. Occasionally I’ll have a glass of wine.
However, while it can be tempting to top up with some sort of alcoholic beverage at the end of a long day, beware that it doesn’t become a habit. Relying on alcohol can turn into dependance so that you can’t feel relaxed without it, and will introduce all sorts of health risks.
If you do have an alcoholic drink, stick to one and don’t make it a regular occurence.
Writing Writing is well known for having a therapeutic effect and is something I do regularly.
You can write about anything you like: a story, a diary entry, something that’s on your mind, a topic that you’re passionate about, or a letter to someone even if you don’t intend to send it.
You don’t even have to keep what you wrote if you don’t want to.
A few words of advice,though. Don’t write a to do list or anything else which is likely to stress you out and remind you of life’s chores.
It’s also better to write on paper than on a device, not only to minimise your exposure to blue light, but because studies have shown that you retain knowledge better when you write or read physically, and you’re likely to be more creative. See https://uniball.co.uk/handwriting-better-typing/
Reading If you’re a bookworm like me, finding the time to put your feet up with a good book is precious.
Once again, it’s better to read a paperback rather than a digital device to minimise blue light exposure (although Kindles or e-readers that use e-ink to mimic paper are a good alternative).
Books are also great at whisking you off to another place and reality – perfect for when the real world gets too chaotic.
Meditation I can’t praise enough, the wonders of meditation to help you de-stress. Meditation can be done any way you like, in any position you prefer.
It’s a deep state of calm that is achieved by letting all of your thoughts go and being as present as possible. Meditation isn’t a natural state so does take practise! When you master it, though, you’ll wonder how you survived without it.
Personally, I use a form of visualisation. I picture a beautiful place from my memories, and then I modify it by adding a gate which my worries and stress can’t get through.
I picture the worries and stress as little cartoonish characters beating (and failing) to get through, with me as the gatekeeper. After a while, all that I’m left with is my chosen internal setting.
Your way may be totally different. You have to find what works for you.
Deep breathing Deep breathing combined with meditation can be incredibly powerful. Even on its own, it can be a powerful tool to relax you.
Once again, if I’m completely stressed, I use visualisation. I imagine I breathe out all the bad feelings (red), and breathe in all the positivity ( green), until all the negative is gone and replaced by the positive.
Colouring It doesn’t matter if you’re five or fifty. Colouring is a relaxing activity and has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety in adults. There are all kinds of beautiful adult colouring books out there, so there’s no excuse not to give it a try.
I love the ones by Millie Marotta and Johanna Basford, which are delightful to look at and a joy to colour on.
Doing NOTHING That’s right. Nothing. Just sitting back and being in the moment. How many times do you do that? I bet the answer is never.
Let’s face it, these days people are always doing something, even when ‘relaxing’ whether that’s watching Netflix or idly browsing the net.
Because of today’s constant connection to technology and the non-stop bustle of our online lives, it seems that doing nothing has become a completely foreign concept.
In fact, it seems to have become an enviable skill. Yet it’s a must in order to have optimal mental health and truly be able to relax.
Constantly being on the go, and busying yourself with online entertainment rewires your brain to rely on endless dopamine hits. That’s great for the companies that are making a profit off your attention, but not for you and your mental health.
You need to retrain your brain to see quiet, peaceful moments as they are, rather than as moments of boredom and non-productivity.
The next time you’re sitting idle, or waiting at a bus stop, stop and take in the sights, smells and sounds around you.
Notice your child showing you the pictures they drew, smile at the human sitting across from you, listen to the birds in your garden. It’s amazing what you will notice once you master the skill of doing nothing.
Close doors to outside distractions When you’re relaxing at home,it’s best to close doors to outside noises and distractions if you can (provided you don’t have to worry about a baby or anything else important).
It helps you to create a sort of ‘bubble’ of tranquility.
No phones, tablets or other technology I can’t stress this enough. If you want to relax you need to switch off, or at least silence your devices. As I said in my above point about doing nothing, our addiction to technology and the internet simply wires you up for chasing mindless highs.
Social media also has a way of stressing you out and making you feel inferior to others. How can you feel relaxed when you’re constantly comparing your life to others and checking your worth via one-second-clicks and likes?
Please note: It’s perfectly acceptable to use a device simply to stream music – unless that music is coming off your phone which is within arms reach of your twitchy browsing hand.
As you can see, relaxation is easy if you’re willing to switch off and let go.
You may notice that a good few of the techniques do require some practise, but that’s because today’s tech-addicted society has conditioned most of us to forgo relaxation in favour of chasing the buzz of constant entertainment.
Reclaim your attention. Reclaim your right to relax. Reclaim your life.
When we think about decluttering stuff, the last thing that comes to our minds are photos. Yet photos build up to the thousands, especially since the introduction of smartphones.
We click, snap and tap every moment and expression, now we not only have to keep up with physical prints but a forever growing digital hoard.
Let’s be honest, phone cameras are now so good and we take so many photos that we have too many to enjoy.
We see a beautiful sunset and the first thing that comes to our minds is not to enjoy it in the moment, but to snap the perfect image that we can enjoy years down the line, or can get the most likes on social media.
We receive a glorious plateful of food, and our first instinct is not to eat it, but to snap a photo for Instagram.
When we act like this, the moment we remember is not one of basking in the sunset, or of enjoying a meal, but of capturing the perfect photo, and obsessively checking our social media accounts for approval and validation.
And when every moment is experienced behind a screen or a lens, it becomes almost impossible to discern which photos are the most important.
It’s like losing a precious stone on a beach: it was special to you but you’ll never be able to pick it out again among the rest and won’t even be motivated to try.
I had the exact same issue, which is why I’m currently in the midst of sorting out years of digital and physical photos. And with there being decades of memories and sights, it’s no easy task.
What spurred me on to tackle this monstrous task was the sheer joy I experienced of choosing photos to go in my wedding album. The photographer took over nine hundred shots, but every single one was a joy to reminisce over.
I realised I was experiencing none of that joy with my home collection of photos; many of them were random and meaningless. The precious ones were lost in a sea of memories transformed into gigabytes.
Since that realisation, I’ve spent hours deleting meaningless photos taken on the spur of the moment: landscapes I no longer recognise, ten of the same photos from slightly different angles, photos that were downloaded from the internet, photos sent to me through Whatsapp, random images of animals and plants, blurry smiles, self-indulgent selfies, and meals I was in awe of.
Despite all the hours spent deleting countless moments of the past, I’ve barely made a dent in my collection. But believe me when I say it’s a great motivator that a good few months worth of shots are now worthy of photo frame treatment.
More and more bytes are being freed, more memory to dedicate to the best and most meaningful moments. Byte by bte, stories are emerging.
Deleting and disposing of so many photos has also been frighteningly sobering as to how many moments I’ve wasted snapping instead of experiencing.
Since the start of the project, I’ve spent less time pulling out my camera and far more observing with my eyes. If something is truly awe-inspiring, I write descriptions instead, and sometimes use it for inspiration.
If you’re considering minimising your photo collection, go ahead. It’s freeing. It’s cathartic. It’s revealing. Just remember to minimise your snapping, and maximise your moments, instead.
When you minimise your own possessions and you’re the only minimalist in a household, you will inevitably start to notice other people’s stuff. You will have all sorts of ideas in your head about what should go and what should stay.
Why does your husband insist on keeping that set of weights when he hasn’t worked out in years?
Why does your daughter have so many shoes?
Why can’t your room mate just throw away their bulging collection of ragged t-shirts?
Surely they can see the mess they’re living in. Why won’t they understand the benefits of being a minimalist? If only they would stop and listen to you!
Unfortunately, nagging, preaching or removing their stuff without permission will not only cause them to hold onto more stuff in an act of defiance and security, but can end up driving a wedge between you and the people you love.
Everyone has possessions which are important to them for a variety of different reasons. Maybe it’s for security, perhaps they grew up with nothing, maybe they grew up drowning in stuff like I did. Whatever the reason, you should never badger and pester someone to get rid of something they’re not comfy doing so.
My husband, son and I share a house with my parents. The only minimalist in the house is me, so for the longest time I felt frustrated by what I considered to be clutter from other people.
It seemed that no matter how much of my own stuff I got rid of, they accumulated even more. I became hyper aware of everything that was coming into the home, especially since we all share a kitchen and bathroom.
Where was I going wrong?
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I had turned into a preacher of minimalism. I was so encouraged by my new outlook on life that I wanted everyone else to experience the joy, and I wanted to minimise even more. Suddenly, every marketing tactic was clear to me, every needless item on a store shelf, every meaningless trinket left on my shelves.
It’s so easy to fall into this ‘I know best’ mindset when you’re feeling so renewed and energised from such a lifestyle change. But that attitude didn’t do me any favours, and it won’t do you any.
It’ll strain your relationships and do the opposite of simplifying your life.
I had many disagreements with my husband and parents. Nothing I said seemed to work and I was getting fed up. But in the end, it wasn’t worth the heated arguments.
Then I remembered that I was doing this for myself, and that pushing for results from others was stressful and counter-productive. Everyone around me had their own stories, and it wasn’t fair that I was interfering. So I stopped. And I realised how overbearing I had been and that the message of minimalism was being lost.
To my surprise, after a few months, not only did my husband start actively supporting my new lifestyle, he identified some clothes he no longer wanted. Even my mum had a random clearout and filled several charity shop bags.
Think about the last time you were shouted at or lectured. Were you angry? Did you feel inspired to do what the other person wanted?
I thought not.
But don’t worry. As human beings we’ve all been there.We want something from somebody who refuses to play ball and become desperate, convinced that we know best. Of course, all that serves to do is drive people away or cause them to rebel.
The best way to persuade someone is to always be friendly and sympathetic, and to lead by example. Minimalism is one of those concepts that’s better observed over time.
Once people see how much happier, lighter, and more relaxed you are, and how much more time and space you have, you’re much more likely to see a gradual change. The keyword here is gradual.
If you’ve come so far in your minimalist journey, you’ll know that change doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a few months.
It’s a learning process where decision-making skills are sharpened and mindset is improved or altered.
You’re even more likely to persuade the ones you care about by spending that extra time doing something you love, or spending time with them.
Everybody wants more time in their day, and everybody wants to feel important.
Whatever you do don’t pester someone or suggest to them what should be kept and what shouldn’t be. How can one sharpen their own decision-making skills and feel empowered if the decisions are being made for them?
When I was a child, there were times my mum despaired at my toy and magazine accumulation, but when she screamed and shouted at me about it, I held on even tighter because I felt like my stuff was important to me. As a spoilt only child, I was defined by my stuff.
In the end it doesn’t matter if you’re twelve, twenty-eight, or sixty; if you get spoken to badly, nagged and preached at, there will be rebellion instead of results.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand them, but most of all, live happily with your own values. If people like what they see, they’ll soon follow.
Just remember, that not everybody wants to be a minimalist, and your goal shouldn’t be to convert them, but to demonstrate a simpler way of life and bring out the best in yourself and everyone you meet.
Don’t remove other people’s stuff
Don’t forget what minimalism is all about
Do be understanding
Do be friendly
Do be patient
Do be sympathetic
Do lead by example
Do focus on you
Do remember the true meaning of minimalism
The meaning of minimalism? To remove excess stuff in your life so that you can enjoy an abundance of whatever is important to you.
Even the most seasoned minimalists will end up overwhelmed with more clutter if they don’t regularly keep on top of what comes in and what goes out of the home. Left unchecked, it’s easy to become complacent and end up back where you started.
Below, I’ve listed some of the clutter culprits which you should be especially vigilant of.
These get everywhere because they often get bought in packs. Unless you work at a school or in an office, don’t buy pens in packs because you’ll never get around to using the rest before they dry up and they will make your drawers messy.
Pens are also numerous in gift shops and are the next most common keepsake along with keyrings. Don’t be afraid to discard old pens, and if there’s one you love, see if you can buy refills instead of retiring it to a drawer.
People are suckers for brand new, fresh notebooks or journals – myself included. I have so many journals from the past that are half-filled because I got fed up and wanted a new one. The same thing happens with notebooks, but people keep the old ones ‘just in case’, and before long there is a pile of half-full notebooks.
If you use physical notebooks, avoid buying them in packs unless you work at a company or school.
You can also consider using apps and take notes electronically, but this option isn’t for everyone. I’m a pen and paper person myself as the notes stick in my mind easier and I get more creative.
Recently, I recycled piles of these after discovering boxes full in the attic, some with names of people I no longer knew.
Cards multiply very fast because we appreciate the words that people write inside them, or people pass away and we can’t bear to throw away their handwriting.
When it comes to cards, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a select few (I keep some beautiful and thoughtful ones in a photo album), but be sure to recycle the ones that just say ‘to’ and ‘from’, or from people you no longer recognise. You can also take photos of old cards and do away with the physical copy.
I once kept a hoard of old invitations in my bedroom drawer. They were so pretty and I was so honoured to have been invited to events that I kept them as a reminder. Ultimately, however, all I was keeping was junk and they got in the way.
A great event will stick in your memory so there’s no reason to keep an invite. But if there’s one you simply can’t get rid of, you could always place it into a photo album or a memory box.
There’s no reason at all to keep newspapers unless there’s something valuable to you inside it. Even then, you should cut such a thing out rather than keep the whole thing. Nowadays, the same information is available online so it’s highly unlikely you’ll miss out by recycling.
Magazines cost more money than a newspaper, are eye-catching, and over-spilling with information. It’s no wonder that we find it so hard to throw away old magazines in case there is something great inside that we’ll never be able to read again.
But do you really ever go back and read that old information? I doubt it.
That being said, you can cut out the stuff that really interests you and recycle the rest. If it’s a collectable series, however, you can buy magazine binders which will make them beautifully presentable and read like a giant book. I took the latter option for my ‘Writers’ Forum’ collection.
Unless you’re genuinely interested in an advert or service, trash it as soon as it enters your home. Be fast and ruthless.
These end up yellowing in drawers and wallets until they become invisible. Bin old receipts, and better yet, if a shop offers you a digital receipt, opt for that, instead.
Out of a sense of security we keep old paperwork and old bills, but more often than not, we don’t need them and they pile up into a miniature towers. It’s so simple today to scan and digitise anything you’re unsure of, or even to go paperless with companies.So ditch any old paperwork unless it’s very important.
These get bought as gifts and holiday souvenirs more than anything else. But they’re so common as gifts we can end up with a whole haul.
Just a few weeks ago, I was travelling with a mass of about six keyrings on my house key, yet didn’t even notice until my husband stopped me before leaving for work and asked “Emma, why on Earth are you carrying such a heavy mass of keyrings for one bloody key?”. I didn’t know, either. Somehow, they had become invisible to me.
Once I realised the absurdity of it, I chose two favourites and used one to identify my house key, and another to give my bag some character. I donated the rest.
Eventually, cables end up making a mini jungle. In today’s tech heavy world we own so many devices and all the cables and spares that come with them. Sometimes, we think we lose cables so end up buying even more, only to find the old one but keeping them ‘just in case’.
Years of this will not only make specific cables or parts hard to find, but you will end up with ancient, mysterious ones which are no longer relevant to anything you own.
As a gamer and a previous gadget addict, I have been to cable hell and back, once discarding of about three large carrier bags of unknown cables and ten USB leads. I’d say it’s fine to keep one spare, but any more than that and you’ll be lost in the cable jungle before you know it.
Batteries end up all over the house or breeding in the ‘junk drawer’, especially if you have kids. Old batteries can explode or leak battery acid if they aren’t stored correctly, and can eventually drain of their power. Not to mention, they are extremely hazardous for small children.
Only keep the batteries you need and don’t bother holding on to any mystery batteries that don’t seem to fit into any device you own.
Old half-full bottles of shampoo, freebies, Lynx gift sets and other toiletries will take over your bathroom if you don’t throw the old stuff away. If you have unused gifts, consider either using them before you buy more of a similar product, regifting or donating them.
Seasons come and go, and with them, coughs, colds and other ailments. One thing I’ve noticed with medicine cabinets is that nobody tends to throw old medicine away, keeping them ‘just in case’. Yet more medicine gets stockpiled every month or so until we are prepared for an apocalypse.
So, whenever you acquire new medication, discard of any old ones – it’s not healthy to have old medicine anyway, and they can also lose effectiveness over time.
Like with medicine, new makeup gets added but the old tends to stay in the back of the drawer. Always throw away old makeup because it’s the perfect hangout for bacteria.
People buy new mugs yet still hold on to scratched or chipped mugs ‘just in case’. People also like to prepare for huge tea parties that never happen, so every cup is a keeper.
Cups and mugs enter the home as gifts at various times of the year, as holiday souvenirs and as classy new kitchenware, and over time they fill every cupboard and end up stacked haphazardly.
Only keep the mugs you use and never keep scratched or chipped mugs because bacteria will thrive in them.
These are another thing which enter the home as gifts, souvenirs and new kitchenware. I’ve seen families of three and four with enough glasses to host a party of a hundred, yet only a handful of them are ever used. Consider donating or recycling unused glassware.
I’m sure I will have missed a category or two out, but as long as you keep an eye on most of the stuff mentioned above, you will have a fighting chance to keep your home calm and clutter-free.
Next week, watch out for ‘living with another person’s clutter’.
Once you make significant headway as a minimalist, you start to value having meaningful experiences over more stuff. As your mindset changes, creating memories will take far higher value than fixating on the latest styles or gadgets.
Think about it: do you remember everything you unwrapped several celebrations ago? Or do you remember who you spent it with? Do you remember what you purchased on that big shopping spree? Or do you remember the shared laughter of the people you were with at the time?
Yesterday, I went on a school trip with my four-year-old son to a theme park for young children and families. He was so excited to be on a bus and see all the landmarks on the way. He was delighted to see his friends who had also come along on the trip, and he couldn’t wait to try out all the rides. But something stood out to me on this trip that will always stick in my mind.
My son loves his toys and is frequently spoilt by the people close to him. Thinking he might want to check out the gift shop before we left, I told him about it. His reply was “But I don’t want to go to the gift shop, mummy, I want to go back on the rides!”.
He was having such a good time, just me and him, spending time together and going on the rides, that buying a new, shiny souvenir didn’t matter at all to him. He just wanted to make the most of the time we had. And for that I was proud of him and wasted not another moment.
My son smiled for far longer on that trip than any new plastic sword would have made him. What was even more memorable was when he gave me a big hug and said “I love you, mummy”. I didn’t need to buy him another toy to make him happy, and he was still talking about his day right up until he went to bed.
On a similar note, I don’t remember all the stuff my parents bought me over the years, and I was a spoilt child who always wanted more. What I do remember are family walks down by the canal, picking blackberries with my dad, having my crazy nan and uncle over on Christmas, playing board games with my parents, and playing video games with my mum.
All of those memories involve interactions and experiences with others because spending time with the people you care about is far more valuable than what’s on a store shelf or in your bank. Sometimes, we don’t even realise how significant a moment or day was until months or even years later.
Experiences will benefit anything and anybody in your life. Yourself, your family, your friends, your pets. The best thing is, you don’t even have to spend money if you don’t want.
A beautiful walk seeing new sights can be just a memorable as a day out to a place you have to pay to visit. A game in the garden with your child will stick in their minds far more than a new gadget. A visit to a family member you don’t see very often would cause a bigger smile than an object sent through the post.
The next time you’re considering a gift for somebody or treating yourself, consider the gift of your time, for there is nothing more precious.
Time over money. Experience over expenditure. Memories over stuff.
‘Gratitude’ is one of those words we see everywhere nowadays in self-help books and even in planners which have sections for listing the things you’re grateful for. Yet people don’t realise how incredibly important the concept is. It’s become like white noise in the background, yet it has the potential to turn someone’s day around, and to completely change the way you see your own life.
Recently, I personally delivered a load of thankyou cards to the people and services who had contributed to my wedding in some way: the man who made our beautiful cake, the lovely ladies who styled my hair, the hotel staff who hosted us,the lady who did all the makeup, even the lady in the perfume department who helped me to choose the perfect scent.
And let me tell you, the radiant smiles on those people’s faces was worth a thousand times more than the glow from treating myself or buying something new.
People often say to me “But you paid for that, so it’s to be expected. You don’t have to go out of your way to thank them”, which I think is really sad.
After all, we all have a finite amount of time on Earth. Whenever somebody does something for you, they are giving up a fraction of their time on this planet.
Taking the time to personally thank someone who has done something for you, even if it’s mundane, like serving you on a checkout, is one of the kindest and most thoughtful practices you can adopt in your everyday life.
Expressing gratitude doesn’t even have to cost a lot of time and energy. A small, cheerful conversation, or a big smile and a thankyou, can go a long way to help someone who has had a rough day.
When we see someone in customer service frowning and sighing, it’s so easy to think, “Huh, what a miserable attitude, they shouldn’t even be serving!”. But we’re all human and sometimes all a person needs is some compassion and gratitude.
I’ve noticed that smiling at someone who looks fed up, complimenting them, or making a point of thanking them, can light up their eyes and turn the frown upside down! Positivity and kindness is light and uplifting, negativity is heavy and depressing.
But what about when the light has dimmed in our own lives and we’re the ones wearing the frown?
That’s when it can be a huge help to write a list of all the things you’re grateful for in your life.
For me, a list didn’t quite cut it, so I chose to write about each thing I had listed, and in no time at all I was feeling as light as air and supremely grateful for everything in my life. I listed having great friends, my family, my house, my job, and everything else I felt I was fortunate to have.
One thing I noticed by writing such a list, was that almost none of it was about the stuff I owned. Everything I needed for happiness was already there. You can do this exercise for loved ones who have upset you as well (depending on the situation, of course). List the things that you like about the person rather than the things that annoy you, and you’ll soon feel much lighter.
I understand that many of us struggle to think of things to be grateful for, especially if life is on a bit of a downer, so here are some things you might be grateful for that you might not even consider, and that others might not have. Please note, I realise that not everything on this list will apply to everybody, but I’m hoping that there will be something on there for everyone.
Clean, plentiful food
A paying job
A flushing toilet
There’s one more thing I would like to share with you that’s too obscure to list with the above, but I feel is well worth mentioning.
Years ago, I was in a bad place with my education, my career and my health. My college placement as an ICT technician was going so terribly that my tutor paid a visit to the place and I almost got finished. Thankfully, my mother in law who worked there took me under her wing as a teaching assistant. And as a teaching assistant I thrived.
I loved the kids, I loved the teachers, and I loved that I was (and still am) helping to make kids lives in the classroom more bearable.
I’d never considered being a teaching assistant before, and had spent the past few years working in retail and studying the wrong thing, which for me was ICT. To discover something I loved, I had to follow what seemed like the wrong path. For that , I am now grateful. I was even able to use the skills I had learned by supporting in ICT classes.
So, even when everything seems to be going wrong, look for the hidden meaning. And when it’s all over, you might even find something to be grateful for.
Gratitude will lighten your heart. Gratitude will brighten the world.
Living a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t stop at having a minimalist home. Bags and wallets also weigh us down as we go about our daily commutes or travel to destinations.
Until recently, I would wander around town like a donkey, my bag hanging off my back like a sack of cement. And whenever I went on holiday, or even to my in law’s house, I’d pack for every conceivable scenario and emotion. Even at work, my bag was fit to burst with entertainment for break times.
Boredom was covered by my 3DS, my Gameboy Advance, my laptop, my notebook, and the latest book I was reading. I also packed snacks ‘just incase’, as if I might starve if I went half an hour without eating. Sometimes, I even packed a spare pair of shoes in case the weather changed or I changed my mind (even if we weren’t planning on going out and about) .
My wallet was the same; filled with cards I hadn’t used in years, and rammed with old receipts.
All this excess packing lead to the stress of getting home and having to unpack it all when all I wanted was to flop down with a cup of tea. It also made it difficult to find what I wanted, without rooting through my bag like a dog digging a hole in the mud.
Since those heavy days, I’ve learnt to only pack the things that I know I will need, and no more. Although, when I got married last weekend, I over-packed for my stay at the hotel and by the end of the day, the room looked as if a cyclone had spun through it and threw my clothes into every conceivable corner (less than half of it needed).
The problem was, I was packing out of fear. Fear of being bored, fear of being hungry, and fear of being unprepared. For feather-light travel, you must let go of those fears and realise that most scenarios in your mind are highly unlikely.
It’s not just your mind and your time an overloaded bag can weigh heavy on- it’s not good for our shoulders or backs, and I frequently found myself with a sore back and shoulders after a trip.
Packing lightly not only makes it effortless for you to find the things that you need, but is kinder to your body and posture, and you will experience much calmer travel.
Here’s how you can transform from feeling like a pack mule, to as light as a butterfly:
Only pack what you need on any given day. For example, on days where I go out to write, I pack my laptop, notebook and my wallet. And on days where I’m just walking around town, or going out for a drink, I take a smaller bag with just my wallet and keys. Ultimately, what you need depends on who you are and what you do.
If you’re going somewhere for a week or so, pack all-purpose clothing, and try to wear some clothes more than once. It’s surprising how full a suitcase can become when you pack for sun, rain, snow and blizzards, all for a summer holiday. Or when you pack a cocktail dress and several pairs of boots when you’re mainly going to be on the beach. Instead, pack a few tops which can be paired with a single coat, hoodie or cardigan for cooler days, and shoes which look great in both the daytime and evening.
If you’re staying at a hotel, find out what they already have in the room. Most will contain a hairdryer, and small bottles of shower gel and shampoo. If you must pack your own shampoo and conditioner, buy an all-in-1. There are even all-purpose soap bars which function as both body wash and shampoo, and take up very little space.
Don’t wear a larger bag for casual trips. For example,if you go into the city for a browse with a bigger bag than you need, it can tempt you to splurge on stuff you don’t really need. If you don’t have the space to carry it, you’re more likely to think twice.
For wallets and purses, only carry the cards you need on the day. These days, you can even use a smartphone to pay by linking your bank card with related apps and services. Trash old receipts and scan the ones you think you’ll need. You can also reduce receipt clutter by allowing shops to email them to you, instead.
Instead of carrying boredom beaters, opt for interesting experiences. The lighter you travel, the easier it will be to move around and do what you want. Experiences are always better and more fulfilling than material stuff.
Allow yourself to sit and be ‘bored’. Too often, we carry things around to entertain us, but miss out on opportunities that are right in front of us, or pass us fleetingly. Smartphones and tablets have trained our minds to be permanently switched on, seeking dopamine hits and being constantly entertained. Slow down.
If you’re an avid reader, consider an e-reader. With an e-reader, you can have hundreds of books to hand without the extra bulk and weight of a single paperback.
The next time you pack your bag, remember: Travel light, be free.
I’m getting married at the weekend, dear readers, so this post is a little earlier than normal. I’ll also keep it short and simple.
This week, I am here to tell you some of the many ways that minimalism can benefit you.
Before I discovered minimalism, it wasn’t just my home that was cluttered, but my entire life. My mind, my emotions, my relationships. I only worked part time, yet somehow I was still always ‘busy’. I barely had time with my family and would come in through the door, immediately start the dinner, tidy up, wash clothes, and passively scroll through Facebook.
Then I’d start again the next day. And the next.
The next thing I knew, my son was four. Where had the time gone?
In our always-connected world, we speed through our days faster than we can take a breath. We rush past the beautiful summer flora, heads buried in our screens, brain miles ahead of our bodies as we plan to tick off the next box. We get in from work, dump our keys on the table and barely look at our partners or kids. There’s just so much to do and so little time!
There’s dinners to cook, a house to clean, clothes to wash and emails to answer, food shopping to do, homework with the kids, that birthday to remember, that favour to return…
As technology has raced ahead, so have our lives, and most of us seem to have forgotten how to do the above three things. By racing to keep up we are forgetting to live.
But there is a simple and elegant solution.
By embracing minimalism you can learn to stop and smell the flowers. You can regain lost time and reconnect with not just your family, but yourself.
As my donate pile grew and my space expanded,I started to see and experience so many benefits that I can’t even imagine going back to how life was before.
Below, is a list of the ways that minimalism has enriched my life and will endlessly benefit yours.
Regained floor space, shelf space and mind space. My space feels light, airy and full of potential.
An always tidy house. No more panicking about guests and wasting time tidying. This also helped me to pace myself and cope with chronic illness.
Less time spent cleaning because it is quicker and easier. Less cleaning means more time doing fun or meaningful activities. I now have far more writing time and time to just sit and chat when I get home from work.
Cheaper shopping days because I no longer feel the urge to buy shiny new things.
Being far more aware of the environment. Before minimalism, I had too much stuff to notice what else was around me and what was happening behind the scenes.
Being much more aware of the people around me. Once you’ve cleared the excess stuff, suddenly, people take the spotlight instead of the trinkets lining your bookcase.
Improved relationships . Having more time for others and being more mindful has lead to closer relationships in my life. There’s more time to talk and the important people in my life take priority.
Feeling more creative and inspired . Once I cut out digital distractions and regained so much space in my home, I could think much clearer. No longer did I take walks with my face glued to my screen, or sit on a bench updating my status. As a result, my notebooks are brimming with observations, ideas and insights. Some of the sights, interactions or snippets of conversation were fleeting. I would have missed them had I had my head down or been speeding along like a wind up toy.
A clear purpose in life . Clearing the clutter and adopting a minimalist mindset lead to me completely reevaluating my life and what was most important. Most importantly, there is now the space to achieve whatever I want.
Space to grow. Minimalism has made me grow as a person and realise that I won’t ever stop growing. I can see clearly what needs improving, what I need to contribute to, and what I need to let go of.
As you can see, the benefits of minimalism are powerful and extensive, and I know that the list will only grow longer, because minimalism helps your values to grow in the same way the sun helps a flower to bloom.
Sometimes when we think about improving our lives, it’s ridiculously easy to fall into a trap of consumerism. This is because no matter what walk of life you come from, or what profession you’re in, there’s always a product out there to ‘perfect’ your life and make you into the person you’ve always dreamed of. There’s always one more thing you’re sure will make you happy this time around.
Today, there’s a never-ending choice of products to make you more sexy, more elegant, more productive. A better parent, a better partner, a better gym goer. Famous, successful, irresistible.
If you’re a new parent, you might convince yourself you need the perfect diaper bag, perfect bottle set or perfect nappy dispenser.
If you struggle to get your life in order, there’s a huge variety of attractive planners which claim they’ll make you into a master of productivity and success.
If you’re a writer, then maybe that perfect pen, notebook, laptop, or software will help you write that book that’s been on the backburner.
If you’re single and looking, there’s a perfume or cologne out there which will draw every male or female within a ten-mile radius.
Once you’re ensnared in this trap, it’s hard to get out of because there’s always just one more thing you can add that will surely make your life complete. But you and I both know, that ‘satisfied’ feeling is as fleeting as the time it took you to take the item to the checkout or click it into your basket.
It’s not long before you’re looking for the perfect desk for that perfect notebook , or the next perfect laptop, because the other one you bought didn’t help you to start that book, afterall.
The cycle continues.
And it will continue until you realise that you already have everything you need – and it isn’t fancy software and material products.
You don’t become a better writer by buying a better laptop. No fancy software, hardware, notebook or pen will get your words down for you, or make your ideas better. Only the act of writing will do that.
You don’t become a better parent by buying every toy in the bestsellers list, the best diaper bag or the trendiest pushchair. You do that by offering unconditional love, security, and a healthy environment for them to learn and grow.
You don’t become a better teacher by buying a bigger desk, you do that by consistently teaching quality content and connecting with individual students.
Admittedly, I’m a sucker for great writing software, beautiful planners, and fun toys for my son. But none of those things get me further ahead in life, and none of it adds to the relationship between me and my son. Only spending time can do that.
It’s my consistent actions that make me into a better person than yesterday, not stuff, and it’ll be your consistent actions that transform you into the person you want to become.
Once you understand and apply this concept to your own situations, your life satisfaction will skyrocket. And if you constantly act towards the life that you envision, you’ll see progress every single day, no matter how small.