The older I get, the more I see how relationships are what matters in this life. Relationship with God, relationships with family, relationships with everyone I come into contact with.
When life comes to a close, it’s not going to matter what our collections looked like, what furniture we had in our home or what style of clothing we wore- that will fade away. What will matter is the people we knew and the bonds that we had with them.
Minimalism brings a beautiful balance in life- it eliminates all the excess that would otherwise occupy our time and energy, opening so many more opportunities to bring value into our own life, and the lives of others around us.
Certainly we need to simplify our calendar and step away from the “obligations” that are a drain and fill our lives with busyness.
Just like when you declutter your home and decide what items you love and use, you need to look through your calendar and let go of the things that do not add value. So many things on the calendar are superfluous, let those items go and when you have freed up time and have some breathing room, add valuable things back in:
- Get to know your neighbors. Smile at them, find out their name, chat with them when you see them. Have neighborhood gatherings. Build relationships with your neighbors so you can support one another- whether it be when the family is facing a crisis, or when they are celebrating something special.
- Spend time with people in the same season of life. For parents of young children, it might mean having playdates or mom nights with other moms. For parents of older kids, get a couple families together and go bowling, or play frisbee at the park. Be away from screens, interacting together.
- Spend time with people in a completely different season of life. There are many older people who love visits, there are many single people who long for company, parents of young children who want adult interaction and parents of teenagers who need to know that their children will be ok and love them in the end.
- Work on a hobby with someone. Children enjoy cooking and crafty projects with adults, and friends and spouses can enjoy doing things together as well. Think of the “Sip & Paint” type places- that invite you to enjoy coffee or wine while you learn to paint with friends.
- Entertain. For many, this is a lost art and can feel awkward- but it doesn’t have to be! No need to have elaborate meals- have a “Girl’s Night In” with snacks and coloring pages. Enjoy a game night and play board games. Potlucks and BBQs are easy to put together, gather at a park if needed. It’s the people that is important, not the activities, or the venue.
- Keep a gratitude journal. You can do this on your phone with various apps to really make it “clutter-free”, but there is great benefit to physically writing out your thoughts with pen and paper. Practicing gratitude is not clutter- it’s one of the best practices you could possibly do. It improves physical and psychological health, helps you sleep better and reduces aggression. <source>
- Work on strained relationships. Unless the relationship is physically or emotionally abusive it’s worth the work to make it stronger. Read books to help you understand their personality and their love language. Work on being assertive (stating your needs clearly while still respecting the needs of others) in what you are talking about- avoid all forms of insinuating. Set healthy boundaries if needed, and talk about them so everyone is on the same page.
- Reach out to those in need. Donate time and energy to people who need it. Money is the last resort- there is so much more to give than money. Spend time with people in need, do things for them and with them. Reach out to those who are going through a struggle you’ve had to face; if you have struggled with addiction, offer your friendship to someone who is trying to stay clean. If you have been a single mom, take dinner to a stressed out single mom and do her dishes or laundry (if that won’t bother her!).
- Be adventurous. If you have longed to travel- make plans, take action- set it into motion. If you don’t like traveling, think of something you’ve been putting off, but you’ve always wanted to try- whether it be adult education classes, art or riding in a hot air balloon. Plan fun things to do.
This is not permission to be busy all the time. Life needs balance- minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything so you can sit alone in your empty home and do nothing. It’s about letting go of anything that “owns” you and having freedom to do things that bring value into your life and the lives of others around you.