Minimalism - creating space for what truly matters
Digitization has transformed our world. We can access an endless amount of information anytime and anywhere. Everything is achievable at our fingertips. That’s why it can be hard to draw the line between what adds value to your life, and what doesn’t. If you feel overwhelmed now and then, you’re definitely not alone.
As a response to this constant stream of information and the pressure of wanting more, the minimalist movement arose. It’s about reclaiming your role as a conscious decision maker, choosing what’s best for you and the world you want to live in. It’s an ode to simplicity and sustainability.
Where to start
The easy and obvious way to start minimizing is by questioning your consuming habits.
Throughout a lifetime we collect so much stuff and it’s often hard to let go of things that don’t serve their purpose anymore. Throwing all your excess stuff out without changing your purchasing habits is obviously not sustainable. At the same time, I believe tidying up is key to sustaining this mentality shift, and I’m sure Marie Kondo agrees.
Clutter creates clutter
A sock on the floor invites other socks to join. A bulging wardrobe and still “nothing to wear”. A kitchen drawer full of spoons when all you need is a knife. Chances are you’d find that knife if you didn’t have so many spoons.
Having less makes you appreciate what you have. You’ll spend less time looking for things or worrying about “stuff”.
You’ll use each item to its full potential, since all your stuff is essential. In the words of minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn: “I don’t own a lot of clothes but the clothes I do own are my favorite clothes”
Own objects, don’t let them own you
Advertising teaches us to put more value in objects than their initial product value. You don’t buy a shirt, you buy professionalism or confidence. The upside: we learn to appreciate objects for their emotional or functional value. But at the same time we tend to get overly attached to material possessions, or addicted to the feeling we get at the moment of purchase.
Why you next purchase is probably irrelevant to your happiness
We are biologically wired to enjoy the hunt. Dopamine levels go through the roof when we get what we (think we) want. But once we get it, levels drop and the process starts all over again.
Realizing the difference between excitement and contentment was a life-changing relief for me personally. The exciting short-term dopamine feeling is great, it’s just not something you want to chase in search of happiness. Doing so, we’re always tired, always busy, always chasing, never settling.
Contentment is underlying, subtle and peaceful. It’s the foundation for a happy and healthy life. If you’re aware of the distinction you’re able to let go of chasing the excess. You’ll find time and energy for the essentials: things that truly matter and therefore add up to long-term contentment.
So what’s essential?
It all depends on what’s essential to you and the life you want to live. Instead of restricting yourself to a certain amount or type of possessions, try to be mindful about the things you invite into your life. Look for quality over quantity, timelessness over trends.
Shifting away from overconsumption isn’t just necessary for sustainability reasons, it will also drastically improve your quality of life.
Things are meant to be used
Minimalism isn’t necessarily about having less. It’s about using everything you own.
Besides surrounding yourself with essentials, keep in mind that your surplus items could be of great help to someone else. Luckily, we have a few organizations in Belgium that make sure your excess stuff becomes someone else’s gem.
De Collectie redistributes all fabric items. They work alongside other Belgian nonprofit organizations like Mensenzorg, Oxfam and Kringwinkel. Clothing that is in good shape will be donated to those in need. Stained or ripped fabric will be recycled. They even pick up your stuff at your doorstep if you want.
All other reusable items can be brought to or picked up by Kringwinkel. Even broken (electronic) items will be repaired or taken apart so parts can be upcycled.
Feel inspired to minimize? These links will get you started.
Verlangen naar Minder - Jelle Derckx
Minimalism, documentary on Netflix
Tidying up with Marie Kondo, series about decluttering on Netflix
The True Cost, documentary on fast fashion on Netflix
Video on Charlie magazine about fast fashion