Small Steps to Minimalist Living

When I first learned about minimalist living, I was intrigued. The idea of shedding my possessions down to the bare minimum sounded like freedom from all the clutter. I went searching the Internet reading every major minimalist web site out there, and there are a lot out there.

My first instinct was to be disgusted with the piles of stuff I had bought and collected over the past 30 years. Every flat surface in the house was filled with some kind of clutter. Even if there was a small area cleared out to be used (like writing a check), it was quickly filled and had to be cleared off again. And where did that clutter go? Likely a drawer or closet.

All the problem areas had been on my mind, but I had just felt so overwhelmed by the junk that I didn’t know where to start. But once I started reading about other minimalist journeys, I learned that when your mind is prepared you can start getting rid of things quickly.

I started with our hallway and then moved on to my section of our office room. In the office, I had stuff cluttered so badly I could barely find anything. I had about 150 burned CDs of music and data that I no longer needed, yet I had not thrown them out because I felt guilty about trashing them. But I did. And then I started filling boxes destined for the thrift store*

*When donating, I suggest you take your items to a thrift store such as the Salvation Army, or ones that operate to help battered and abused women. Some major thrift stores are for-profit operations.

Each area cleared felt like a huge burden was lifted. But I’m still working and have a long way to go. Here’s a breakdown of my process:

1. Understand that your possessions don’t define you as a person. This includes your clothes, your TV, your car, etc. None of these things make you who you are, even if we’ve been conditioned to think that way.

2. Find the area of your home that brings you stress and start there. Once you feel the accomplishment of getting it done, you’ll be motivated to keep cleaning and decluttering other areas.

3. Don’t get discouraged; it can’t happen at once. When I learned about minimalist living, I imagined the beauty and simplicity that shedding all the junk I had would bring. I thought of nearly empty rooms with only the essential things I needed and not a single thing I didn’t. But you can’t do it one day.

I’ve pared down much of the junk I’ve accumulated over the years, but I still have a long way to go. There are some things that are easy to get rid of, and some things you just don’t know how to get rid of them. But it’s a total journey, and so far I’m happy with my progress.

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