Ok, so this isn’t going to be your typical Thanksgiving Day “Here are all of the things I’m grateful for” post. This is a post about minimalism. Wait…. What do gratitude and practicing minimalism have in common? I’m so glad you asked!
First I want to tell you how I became interested in learning more about minimalism.
Three years ago I made a decision to move out of my house and into an apartment. I lived in an average sized three bedroom home with a full sized basement and garage full of stuff. I moved into a 2 bedroom apartment with some storage (a space the size of a small closet).
This is when I was forced to make some hard decisions. How much did I really need each of these things? Floor and closet space became very valuable. Did this thing deserve that space? I left A LOT of “prized possessions” behind. But I also boxed up several things and stored them at a friends house. More things I thought I needed.
When I moved into my apartment I started with almost nothing. I bought some used furniture and, with the help of family and friends, made it a home. Over time I realized I didn’t really need those things I left behind or the majority of the things I was storing. Not having all of that “stuff” was very liberating. So, I decided to get rid of most of the items in storage.
At this point I didn’t know what minimalism was. I didn’t identify the changes I was making as some big change in mindset. But it was. Earlier this year I was listening to an Optimal Living Daily podcast on the subject of Minimalism. I immediately connected with it. I wanted to know more.
Over the last several months I have been making changes to live a more simple life. Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of junk you don’t use. It’s about evaluating what is truly important to you in all aspects of your life. Not just the stuff in your house. Also, in the choices you make and in how you spend your time.
As for my “stuff”, I have been taking time to donate or throw away things we don’t need. Everything from clothes to books to kitchen utensils. I heard an interesting statistic. We wear 2o% of the clothes in our closet 80% of the time. That’s crazy, but when I look in my closet I’m guessing that is pretty accurate.
After hearing that statistic I went to my closet. I stood there trying to imagine what my closet would even look like if 80% was gone. I can see my mom gasping as she read that. It’s a crazy thought I know. Getting rid of 80% of the clothes in your closet. But by getting rid of most of that 80% it would make it a heck of a lot easier to pick out what to wear. (I am one of those people that will try on 7 different outfits before choosing what to wear.) I read an article that said try filling a box with clothes you don’t wear often with the intention of keeping them there for 30 days. At the end you will likely realize you don’t need any of it.
I know what you are thinking, “That’s great and all but what does this have to do with gratitude?” Well, as I go through this process I am getting down to the items that truly have value to me. By choosing to keep that item I’m realizing how grateful I am for it. It’s a great feeling. In the end I hope to have a home with only the items I am truly grateful for.
A good friend of mine once told me that he thought happiness was a myth. That there really was no such thing. He said the people we look at as “happy” are actually just grateful. I think about this often. Whether he is right or not, you can’t deny that you can’t be happy without being grateful. It’s one of several reasons living simply has become so important to me.