(My) minimalism

Hello everybody! Welcome to my blog. This week’s post is a little bit different. 

When I started this blog, my goal was making people’s lives healthier and therefore, better. Nonetheless, it’s not all about exercising and eating the right food. 

When we think of a healthy person, we picture someone, let’s call this person Josh, who runs, goes to the gym, eats healthy and sleeps the right number of hours every night. However, let’s not forget that there are other important elements to consider when we discuss someone’s overall health. 

Health is defined as a state of physical, mental and social well-being in which disease and infirmity are absent. It means that not only does Josh go for a run and eats very well, but he has to have a mental and social well-being. 

Today, I want to talk about minimalism as a way to improve this mental well-being. 

First, I need to make a disclaimer. I am not a psychologist, and I don’t pretend to step on their area of expertise. If someone really has a mental problem, a psychologist or counsellor might be the solution. In fact, I believe that we all should visit a psychologist on a regular basis. We visit our dentist once a year and we don’t feel ashamed of going to see the GP multiple times, but there seems to be an unwarrented social stigma towards psychologists. Our Josh might not be completely healthy because he doesn’t have any friends or family, or he’s mourning a lost family member. He will need to see a specialist. 

The good news is we can do something. Sometimes we just need to simplify our lives a little bit to focus more on what it’s really important. When I was about 18, I discovered Marie Kondo and her magic method and a couple of years later, I discovered the Minimalists. If you don’t know these guys, I truly recommend you check them out. They are inspiring, and they helped me build my own version of minimalism. 

Today I will give you the definition of minimalism, my own perception of minimalism and how you can start being a minimalist. 

On Google, the definition of Minimalism is: 

Minimalism is all about living with less. This includes fewer financial burdens such as debt and unnecessary expenses. … For many minimalists, the philosophy is about getting rid of excess stuff and living life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions. 

Marie Kondo’s philosophy is “simplify and organise”. She is famous for her idea of keeping the things that “spark joy”.

These people have their own great ideas of what minimalism is. Yet, Marie Kondo does not even consider herself a minimalist. I like the concept of minimalism, but every individual should find their own version. Let me explain. Our friend Josh is a great painter, but he is not a great baker. For him, it would not make any sense to have measuring cups, a baking pan or a pastry blender, but he will find it pleasurable to have a thousand different shades for his painting, a couple of whole sets of paintbrushes and some easels. It would make sense for Josh to have a whole room just for his painting. And here is when we define our own version of minimalism.

My version of minimalism is composed by some ideas:

  1. To be conscious of what we possess. If you find something one day and you’re surprise because it’s been years since you saw it the last time, most likely you don’t need it. Do yourself a favour and get rid of it. 
  2. To actually use what we have. If you have things just in case one day you use them, trust me, the only thing that’s going to happen is that those things will accumulate and will go into the oblivion. Perhaps some items we don’t use them that often as others, but to have not touched it in years is another thing. 
  3. To enjoy using and possessing those items. Some people use things just to show that they are using them, but they don’t really enjoy using them or they don’t really care. With time, this type of items will go into the oblivion as well. 
  4. To be able to keep everything in our house and still have free space. If you think your house is too little or you need to rent a storage space, it’s time to start a “no mercy” process. This means, you need to start throwing or giving things away.
  5. To tidy up and organise. This might be the trickiest step. Tidying up without throwing things away first is like putting the undies after the pants. Unless you are Superman. Sometimes, this is the problem, we try to organise a lot of things and we get frustrated because there is no space, we have to organise too many things and the simple process of tidying up, which must be no longer than 15-20’ a day, becomes a whole month process.

Josh has decided to start his adventure. However, he doesn’t know where to start. Becoming a minimalist or a good organiser takes time. My family and friends always say that it looks very easy for me, but I have 26 years’ experience and I am still a work in process. I would like to share with you some ideas you can do right now to start your own journey: 

  • Do a “no mercy” to your wardrobe. Starting with the clothes is Marie Kondo’s advice, and I agree with her. Clothes are the easiest items to get rid of. Take a bin bag and go item by item asking yourself: does it fit? Do I like it? Have I worn in the past year? If you answer no, put it in the bin. Depending on how big your wardrobe is it could be a 1-hour process or a 1-week process. However, when you have just the things you really want to keep, you’ll enjoy wearing those clothes much more, it will be much easier to get ready in the morning and, why not, it will give you a bit of space for that new jumper that you want to buy. While you do this process, you may find out what your style is, or what you want it to be.
    When you finish this process, please don’t leave the bin bags in the normal bin. Find the nearest clothing bin and put it there. There are so many people that will be delighted to give those clothes a second life. 
  • Get rid of anything you have duplicate. Do you really need two scissors? Or two staplers? Or five gym bottles? Josh has found out that he has 15 plates, but he lives by himself and he just has a couple of friends over every now and again, so he doesn’t need more than 5 or 10.
  • Get rid of the food that has expired. Not only to become a minimalist, but for your own health. Take everything outside the fridge and the pantries and check all the items. This includes the spices. I bet you find at least 5 things that have expired.
  • Get rid of the cosmetics that have expired. And don’t forget to get rid of those that have not expired but have been opened for a long time. A cosmetic has a life once you open it (normally this information is in the pot), and it can become useless or even dangerous once its life is over. 
  • Go through your papers. We tend to accumulate useless papers: receipts, instructions books, guarantees, old contracts, old school notes, ex-boyfriends’ letters. These items have no use. Nowadays, everything is digitalised. You don’t need to keep receipts or guarantees because it will be linked to your email. About those school notes, go through them and ask yourself, am I going to read this again? Be honest with yourself. I am sure you’ll get rid of more than 75% of those papers. About the ex-boyfriends’ letters, please move on. Josh doesn’t let love in because he is still hooked up with his past. The past is in the past, and there is a reason why it is like that. Be like Josh, put all those things in the paper bin and recycle!
  • Stop buying books. Recently, I have bought a Kindle and I got a membership in Audible. Not only are they cheap, but I have all the books I want to read in English and Spanish without having to let them accumulate dust on the shelve. Giving away the books that we already have might be difficult, but sometimes we don’t even know which books we have. Keep just the books that changed your life, that marked a before and after, that you are going to read again (and you are completely and honestly sure about it). The rest can have a second life. Donate these books. I think it’s cruel to keep books that we have forgotten about. 

After these first steps, Josh has gotten rid of a lot of possessions. Now, he has more space, and he is getting to know himself much better.

Of course, there is a lot more to do. The process has just started, but you are in the right path. 

I will share with you more ideas about how to continue this process, more specifications and more tips in future posts! 

See you next week!

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