I have been fascinated and encouraged by the recent trend toward minimalism. From capsule wardrobes to tiny houses, it seems that more people are seeing that less really is more. Less stuff means more time to spare because you’re not constantly picking up after yourself. It means more money because you’re not impulse buying knick knacks that you will inevitably put in a garage sale in a couple of years after you realize you never really used it. It means more freedom to explore things that really matter, like learning something new, being a better person, or challenging yourself because you aren’t so worried about keeping up with the Joneses.
Though I’m a bit of a hoarder by nature (particularly with clothes), the prospect of an international move has really opened my eyes and has me embracing the minimalist movement. With each item that I place in the “do not keep” pile, I feel a little lighter and more liberated (and, if I’m being honest, a little disgusted with myself for having so much in the first place). By the end, I am hoping to have just enough to fill a suitcase or two and nothing more.
This whole process has made me realize how indoctrinated we are into consumerist culture. Society/Advertising/Media/Big Brother/Whatever you want to call it tells us that having stuff will make you happy, so you always find yourself wanting more. I now firmly believe that the desire to acquire things – whether it’s that fancy new car you’ve been eying or a massive shopping spree – comes from a deeper feeling of emptiness inside oneself. Buying things, especially on impulse, is a form of instant gratification that feels very good for a little while, but again, only leaves you wanting more. As the late, great George Carlin said, “Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.” The moment I began taking real steps toward following my dreams was the moment that stuff started not to matter so much anymore. Stuff doesn’t nurture the soul; happiness does, and real happiness only comes from doing what you love and being who you want to be.
I am far from a perfect minimalist and I still have a while to go before I reach my final goal, but I have been amazed at how easy it is for me to let go these days. I am looking forward to having less and doing more; wanting less and being more. I will continue to embrace my minimalist journey and hope to encourage others to reevaluate their lives and fill their hearts with things that matter. If we all learn to move away from “stuff”, we might just move a little closer to ourselves.