Because Minimalists Aren't Just Trying To Prove A Point

Because Minimalists Aren't Just Trying To Prove A Point

 

I just finished reading this post about Celebrating The Art Of Clutter and it got me to thinking.

Minimalism tends to get viewed as shaming. The collectors are feeling shamed when someone they know is getting rid of all their collections.

But here’s the deal:

We’re not judging.

 

Minimalism isn’t embraced because of snobbery.

And we know it’s not perfect for everyone.

For many people, having clutter around- even organized clutter, feels chaotic. Some of us were not born with an innate ability to be putting away, dusting, and arranging. If there gets to be too much stuff surrounding us, it feels out-of-control and we get anxious and depressed.

The majority of people in abundant societies feel this way to a certain degree. We’ve got more belongings than we need, and it tends to spill out of the cupboards, crowding the garage and since we don’t know how to let it go, we haul it down to the storage unit and pay someone else to hold onto it for us.

That is what minimalist are avoiding.

Minimalism is about finding a balance. And that balance is different for every person and every family.

Simplicity involves unburdening your life 1

It’s not about proving how much better we are than others- it’s doing what we needed to do for our family.

I had to get extreme in my de-owning. Because for me to be present with my children, to focus on family rather than wallowing in self loathing, I had to get rid of more than many others find necessary. Which translates to minimalism. Because I have so much less stuff, it seems extreme.

It’s nothing against people who enjoy collecting things.

When people make positive changes in their life, the joy it brings begins to overflow- they want to share the freedom that they’ve found.

 

What changes have you made in your life that have been rewarding? Are your friends and family supportive?

 

 

About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m the Joyful Space Specialist. it’s my desire help others create a joyful space of their own and enjoy their time spent at home.

28 Comments

  1. Sara on 06/09/2015 at 8:16 AM

    To each their own, I suppose, but The Art of Clutter’s author’s comments about renting storage to keep her things AFTER her death because she is so convinced that her children will want them one day is disturbing. What a burden to put on your children. To tell them outright that your wishes are for them to hold on to your clutter, even paying for storage, until… forever? At some point, no matter how much she values her earthly treasures, she’ll have to accept that they are just that. Earthly. They will cease to matter to you once you are gone. Except maybe to realize how foolish you were to treasure them so highly to begin with. Ah well, I hope she enjoys her clutter. I, for one, am happy to be trying to get rid of mine.

    • Christine on 06/11/2015 at 10:11 AM

      Sara,
      I couldn’t have said it better! As I read her article, she had some good points, one being that she kept what she treasures, and she treasures what she keeps. To me, no matter how much or little, those things aren’t clutter. But when she explained how she is guilting (and yes, it is guilt) her children to keep her stuff after she is gone–that’s the disturbing part. Her stuff means *nothing* to them–and they’ll be saddled with keeping it, or guilt as they try to rid themselves of it. I’m trying to be very careful with my sons, to not saddle them with stuff I don’t want, and neither do they. I want to give them the freedom to say No thanks!

    • jake hoff on 07/16/2017 at 5:51 PM

      My parents thought that I would take all of their stuff and cherish it just like they did…every chipped cup, cheap knick knack and cracked plate. When the inevitable happened & I had to clear out their house, as both had to be moved quickly, I was overwhelmed. The way I started was to take a garbage bag, and to remove every single artificial flower my mother had all around her house…my father grew 2 acres of the most beautiful flowers & she had plastic flowers in the house…then I started with the chipped cups etc…by the end of two days I had 9 huge garbage bags of “literal junk”. It has taken me almost 2 years to dispose of almost all their stuff, keeping some keepsakes. They did not understand that I had my own house, I had my own stuff. A lot of their stuff did end up coming to my house, but I could not use most of it. I do not cherish it. Stuff is stuff. It clutters the house, is gathers dust, and it weighs one down. So not only did I dispose of most of my parents’ stuff, as my father passed, & my mother in nursing home….I never want my children to feel this guilt of having to cherish their parents stuff. I have gone through my house and only kept what I need……I like airy spaces, and do not miss what I have sold or donated, or thrown out. There was great satisfaction in taking a hammer to chipped vases and bowls that will be of no use to anyone, not even those people who shop in thrift stores. I think decluttering and minimizing is a constant…I always have a garbage bag in the closet for clothes that are in good shape, but I no longer want…I don’t by knick knacks, souvenirs, dispose of shoes I can’t wear….and always remember that some things should be thrown out, not donated to a charity who can’t sell it.

  2. Jaclyn on 06/09/2015 at 12:00 PM

    I’m in the process of a few major changes. Once my second son turned 6mo I signed up for a gym membership and have been going almost every day. I’m on my way to my best physical self. I also have been inspired by this blog and am slowly decluttering our home. Right now I have about 5 bags to toss, but my husband demands we catalog it for tax purposes which takes time. But, I’ve noticed a chance in my husband who likes to keep everything. He’s starting to slowly let go of items only a few months ago he would have fought to keep. I’m thrilled we are coming to be on the same page. I have a ways to go but am empowered by my new mindset. Next up, I know I need to dump my wardrobe and totally start over. That will be a major challenge!

    • Rachel on 06/10/2015 at 4:57 PM

      That is so wonderful that he is seeing things differently as well!

  3. Maureen on 06/09/2015 at 9:48 PM

    Great topic for discussion! I was also disturbed by “Celebrating the Art of Clutter.” It does sound like she has some pretty nice things, but still…my parents are still sifting through their parents’ belongings years after they have passed on. They feel the burden of having three generations (theirs, their parents’, their children’s’) of “stuff” under their roof. There are many things that have been passed on and are treasured but also just so much stuff that isn’t really needed. It makes me even more resolved to share what I have and leave very little behind to be someone else’s burden. My mom and I love living with less, but I have a sister who says she just likes her stuff and she doesn’t want to pare down. To each their own! For me, simplifying brings peace. I love that there are people who save things for years (or else we would have nothing in museums!) but I have accepted that I am just not one of those people.

    • Rachel on 06/10/2015 at 4:55 PM

      I completely agree Maureen! I can appreciate people who have kept things, but I’m not one of those people either. 🙂

    • Caelidh on 06/12/2015 at 1:47 PM

      I hear you.
      My mum actually apologized to me about the stuff she was going to leave me to go through. Granted.. a lot was junk but I DID find my biological fathers slides of me as a child (treasure) and letters from my grandfather to my mother (mixed in with junk mail)

      I walked away from good furniture and gave away TONS of stuff and what a mess..

      I have NO children.. and so I have to get rid of stuff now. Otherwise it will get tossed. But yeah.. that article sounded a BIT too dysfunctional for my tastes!

  4. Patti on 06/11/2015 at 11:27 AM

    Wow, I just read the article and found it very disturbing! She comes across as a very controlling individual. Stuff is just stuff, no matter how many thousands of dollars it may be worth. What’s the point of saddling your kids with something they don’t appreciate when you could pass it on to someone who would?

  5. Jennifer on 06/11/2015 at 1:17 PM

    I agree with her criticism of the minimalism/decluttering “industry” that has arisen and the products marketed as solutions (buy stuff so you don’t feel bad about the stuff you already bought? nonsensical). To me, that’s just another face of the consumerism monster.

    But I think she misses a core driver of minimalism – it’s a values shift or, for some, a better expression of pre-existing values. This is not some spasm of guilt or a phase prompted by a talk show.

    In the same way that dance and music is my vehicle for creativity, minimalism is my vehicle for pursuing a simpler life. I want less responsibility and – be honest, you collectors! – stuff costs time and money and emotional energy (positive and negative). It’s more cost than I’m willing to bear. And along the way, minimalism lets me address another concern – my debt load – by spending less, selling the excess, and thinking critically about what deserves a place in my life.

    Collectors and minimalists have a lot in common, I think. We both cherish. We have a deep connectedness to our environment and our emotional state is tied to what’s in our space. We seek beauty and peace. It’s just that some find those feelings in viewing/touching/possessing grandma’s hand-painted tea pot and others find it in the absence thereof. And that’s okay. But we have to be cognizant that what we surround ourselves with (or don’t) impacts other people. You can’t make your children, choked by sobs, give away all their toys. Nor can you demand your children pay for storage units for your junk under the threat of haunting. People come first; stuff should always be second.

    • Rachel on 06/11/2015 at 1:39 PM

      Well said Jennifer.

    • JoAnn on 06/12/2015 at 11:58 AM

      This is so well put!

    • Marjolaine on 06/16/2015 at 4:52 PM

      I love your take on this! People should ALWAYS come first.

  6. Simple Is The New Green on 06/11/2015 at 4:22 PM

    I agree that minimalism is not for everyone, but, like you mentioned, for me, it just fits. I can’t stand having things around that don’t get used. I look at it as conservation of resources. If I’m not using something, why not give it away to someone who can use it instead of making it new with raw materials? However, even though I became this way as an ‘environmentalist’, I realized that that the psychological and financial benefits are far greater than I ever thought.

  7. Jennie on 06/12/2015 at 1:32 AM

    I have started reading some of your articles the past two months. In which time we sold our 4 bedroom house and are staying with my parents for six months. I’m constantly struggleing to get rid of things and have a tidy pace that I enjoy being in. With 4 children and the typical amount of things, it is impossible. Now that we are with my mom, who is very attached to paper clutter and all other sorts of things, I’m afraid I may get depressed again because of the environment. What should I do while we are their guests?

    • Rachel on 06/12/2015 at 2:54 PM

      That’s definitely challenging Jennie, but try to focus on one area that can be clean and clear, like your bedroom and the kitchen sink/counter. And get out into the sunshine and open air as much as possible. 🙂

  8. Kim on 06/12/2015 at 3:44 AM

    After following your website for months (and loving it) and participating in the (get rid of) 2015 (items) in 2015, I’ve convinced my entire neighborhood to have a yard sale this weekend! I’ve decided to give up lots of my “collections” it’s all outside sitting on tables as I write this… and I have to say it feels great! However…. In regards to others being supportive, one of my great friends suddenly thinks something is physically wrong with me since I’m cleaning out my clutter…. er, I mean “collections”, she doesn’t agree with me selling my stuff and thinks I need to keep it all. I told her “my kids are almost grown and ready to move out and frankly, I’m done spending endless hours moving, dusting, cleaning, washing, putting back, worrying if something will break, worrying if someone cares if I discard it, wondering if people care if I have it, having to walk around it…etc…. I’m going to clear ALL the clutter from my life, being physical objects, mental clutter and even people, I’m going to be clutter free and be able to focus on myself, live my life, have less things and be able to travel with not having to worry about my “collections” ” She didn’t really like that answer! It feels great to currently walk into any room in our house and it be 90% clutter free, it’s more space and even cleaner, my mind is clear and it simply feels liberating! So, most of my friends are not supportive, although I do have a couple of them who will be joining me by selling they’re stuff too this weekend. Honestly I don’t really care what people think, it’s my stuff, if they love it so much maybe they can come buy it!

    • Jennifer on 06/16/2015 at 3:41 PM

      My family thought I was having some sort of mental break when I started getting rid of the stuff about ten years ago. They could not conceive of any condition under which a person might want to own less. The housekeeping advantages ^^^ alone are worth it.

  9. Cody Doll on 06/13/2015 at 8:51 AM

    Living with less looks different to everyone. I can’t tell you how much your site has helped me. I have learned more and more about what minimalism looks like for me. I’ve come to learn that I like holding onto to stuff because it has memories but I’ve learn that holding onto to everything isn’t healthy (for me). So I was thinking of a way that I keep the memory but not the stuff when I realize that I could take a picture and scrapbook or photo album those objects. That way I can still have the “object” but not have it take up as much space. That’s what’s working for me, anyways.

    • Rachel on 06/14/2015 at 2:40 PM

      That’s great Cody, many people have found that is very helpful. 🙂

  10. Anne on 06/16/2015 at 3:49 PM

    I had a coworker who told me a story about carting around about 5 boxes to each home she moved to. One day she just put all 5 boxes on the curb and never even opened them up to see what was inside. She said she had them for 15 years and if she never opened them in 15 years so obvious there was nothing in them she wanted to keep. Would you ever?
    I have a box of antique tins that belonged to my mother. They have pictures of the Queen on them and such and they were displayed in our home for years. She bought most of them at a yard sale for $10-$20. She moved and pared down and I took them thinking they were ‘worth money some day’. Now I have a lovely box of antique tins sitting in my basement. My mom didn’t even want them any more. She’s still alive and won’t take them back! Why did I ever keep that box? The clutter article reminds me of this. If my mother didn’t even value them enough to keep (or resell) why should I? Maybe because I’ve become emotionally attached to them because they remind me of her and my childhood. Anyone want any tins? (just kidding)

  11. Meryl @ Simple Family Home on 06/19/2015 at 5:18 AM

    I agree that minimalists aren’t judging, and I know it’s not for everyone, BUT…. I do think more people would benefit from minimalism than are currently involved in minimising their homes and lives. For a start I think our society has become so used to chronic stress that we barely register mild anxiety or depression as outside the norm. For me, living in a tidy house without clutter and without a constant focus on the material has made such a difference to my mental health. For many, I think, it’s worth a try.

  12. Marie-Helene on 06/21/2015 at 9:02 AM

    I read the article too and found it to be very sad….though I still feel that the “haunting” things was a bit satirical. But since only humans are collectors or minimalists, there will always be people who will judge others for being different. The same way you would feel depressed in your mother-in-laws house full of tickets and dusty porcelain dolls, so would she feel in your echo-rich house with bare walls. It’s about finding a healthier way of life. Things are not the point, as far as I’m concerned, but knowing why I use/want/need/keep a specific item is important. Purposeful owning, I could also say. Let’s keep our own needs in mind and not project our values on others. If there were. I collectors, our museums would be empty! The collectors gene is important and fulfills a purpose. But if it harms more than it heals, then we need to reorganize our lifestyle. But only ours. Not our mother-in-law’s.

  13. Jane on 07/05/2015 at 10:37 AM

    Wowsers. I don’t aim to be minimalist, just to have less stuff & redefine my value of it. But I could not agree less with that article on embracing clutter. As the sole bearer of two generations of family heirlooms it makes me pretty mad to read what she wants to ‘pass on’ to her sons against their will. Make no mistake, things other people value are only valuable to you for your own reasons. You can’t transfer your reasons to someone else!

  14. b3tsy on 07/07/2015 at 5:44 PM

    While I have yet to de-clutter my closets, I have successfully de-clutter my family’s time. That is to say, we don’t bother running around to this activity and that sports event. We lead a minimalist lifestyle with all our stuff (neatly put away, mind you, because I enjoy a neatly organized, full closet/cabinet/space ).

  15. Lizzie on 02/09/2016 at 12:20 PM

    My husband and I ran into this “conflict” from the very beginning of our marriage…when we refused to own a Television (40 years ago). We were minimalist before it was catchy. Then, I, a “feminist” to some degree, opted to stay home and not have a career outside my wonderful career as a homemaker, mother and wife. Hey, didn’t feminism mean I could choose? Obviously not, from the criticism I received. Then, we home educated five children…more “slap in the face” to our friends and family. We home birthed two of our five…GASP. No, I’m not bragging…those were our CHOICES. We chose not to fit the mold, walk in the parade, chase the consumer dream…and it made people mad. Hey, yes it did but it fit us and allowed us to cultivate our own happiness in our own way. It was just amazing to see how insulted other were by our choices…or maybe a better word is “threatened”.

    • Rachel on 02/09/2016 at 4:32 PM

      Yes, I’m very similar Lizzie. I learned early on to not talk about my choices, but some of them, people can’t help but see. For a couple years, I had dreadlocks- more people expected me to make decisions like that then and they brushed it off easier. LOL

  16. Erica Yin on 07/09/2016 at 11:00 PM

    To live with less or more just depends on what makes us happy. For me, finding balance and living in moderation works for me. I’ve been decluttering but i don’t think i could live with just 10 clothing items and perhaps 20 other essential items. I tried project333 and love how my wardrobe looks.

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