I describe myself as a minimalist because, when posed with the question ‘How could your life be better with less?’, I found myself answering: ‘As it turns out, much better!’
For me, minimalism means curating my life such that I bring into it the things, experiences, and relationships that will add value to my life, and remove that which does not. It requires me to recognise that what is most essential is my experience of life, rather than the things I buy, the money I earn, the house I live in, the number of friends I have on Facebook, or the amount of ‘likes’ I get on my Instagram feed. In fact, I no longer have any presence on social media at all, and I’m happier for it. I have fewer friendships, but better friends.
Minimalism means trying my best to live gently on the Earth, consuming what is appropriate to live a good life, while consciously extricating myself from the never-ending demands of consumerism. It means re-evaluating my priorities and living intentionally, without regard for how these may differ from those around me. As a minimalist, I try my best to focus on cultivating habits, actions and methods of contribution that align with the values I aspire to, rather than to compare myself with others.
Minimalism helped me when I needed to transport all of my belongings with me in a suitcase and rucksack from England to Ireland, and on to Japan. In fact, it was essential. A one-bedroom flat full of possessions had to be decluttered down to a maximum of thirty kilograms, compact enough to fit into my luggage, and it needed to be done quickly. I used the KonMari method to eliminate the excess, so that only what I truly cherished remained. I was able to donate the things I once loved but no longer needed to charities that aligned with my values, providing others with the opportunity to find value in them. It enabled me to create – out of necessity – a capsule wardrobe for all aspects of my life: work, rest, and play.
I’m still new to this, and I am by no means perfect. But minimalism isn’t about creating the ‘perfect’ life, or about being 100% happy, 100% of the time. Instead, it’s a tool to shape your life into a more meaningful journey, to become more aware of your values and more intentional in your actions and choices. To me, though, it makes a lot of sense, and is already helping me to take steps to achieve the life that I want to create for myself.
As 2017 draws to a close, I am reflecting on my intention to develop a fearless spirit, cultivating the values of compassion, connection and conviction. Minimalism was the first step on my journey towards building the life that I want for myself, and I am so excited to see where 2018 takes me.