How Minimalism has made Me More Grateful

As you know, for the past few months I have been going H.A.M. simplifying my life. From downsizing my closet, to stripping down my kitchen, to limiting myself to one everyday purse (yes, that’s a thing) — I have been embodying the minimalist movement in my life.

I had no idea the impact that this journey would have on my psyche and how I interpret the world.

How minimalism has affected my attitude towards my home

Since I have significantly decreased my possessions, I have a new-found appreciation for the environment I have cultivated for myself. As I look around my apartment, I see the things that I have kept for myself that fit my cozy minimalist criteria: (1) I need it or (2) it brings me joy. (Candles on all the things!!!!)

For instance, the amount of art that I used to have on my walls was pretty overwhelming. There wasn’t a blank space on the walls in my apartment and it was a constant goal to fill the space with something large, including two almost ceiling high bookcases. This is opposed to featuring something smaller, but as equally interesting, if not more interesting, in the middle of a larger wall. Granted, I really still don’t have many blank wall spots now, but instead of having something covering what felt like 50% of the wall I now have smaller featured pieces that are a focal point.

When I look around my apartment now, I take more time to appreciate the wall hangings that I have kept. Along the wall where my TV bookcase is, I have two quote signs and a small modern clock. I love the way that these quotes are now featured across a larger expanse of wall and aren’t all cramped up against one another. Now, I actually see them. 🙂

I have a new respect for empty space

As I have said before, I used to believe that if there was an empty space, I needed to fill it. Whether it be storage space, wall space, floor space, and everything in between, empty space wasn’t something that I honored or appreciated.

As I began to decrease the amount of stuff in my apartment, I began to cultivate a new understanding of and respect for empty space. In a consumer-focused and materialistic society, our first go-to for anything is to upgrade and fill. It wasn’t that the empty space was ever a bad thing, I just didn’t know any better.

Now, as I look around my apartment and see empty spaces, I am grateful for them. I am grateful that I have minimized my life to only include what is necessary and not what I had once believed was necessary. Today, I see an apartment that is too big for me and I am ready to downsize to something more appropriate. I see a little apartment that costs less each month in my future, which will give me more money to save and more money to travel. I am so excited to give myself more financial freedom by decreasing my housing costs. Just $20 a month is $240 a year and practically the price for a flight and hotel for three-day trip to Vegas. SIGN. ME. UP.

If only I had more space, I would be more organized

When we look at the stuff in our living spaces, so often we see an area that is just not big enough for all of our stuff. It’s difficult to organize, we think, “If only I had more space, I would be more organized.”  But, that’s just not it. We constantly seek to upgrade our space to something larger to accommodate our addiction to stuff.

I recently stumbled upon a quote that read: “For the longest time, I thought I needed to be more organized. Now I know I just needed less stuff.” O. M. G. Foh’ real though… This is the story of why I am sitting in an apartment about 100 square feet bigger than what I really needed.

The search for my clutter cave

As I went out on my apartment search, I yearned to find something large enough to accommodate the massive amount of stuff that I was going to accumulate through my move and then across the first of few months living in my apartment.

As I went from my shoe box size apartment to my current space, I obtained (drum roll please…) two large tall bookcases, another couch, a dining room table, a few end tables, and more art and throw pillows than I knew what to do with. This does not include the increased number of hand-me-down pots and pans that I came into and the increase in knick-knacks. My apartment very much became an eclectic boutique ready for middle-aged, Moscato-fueled shoppers.

Ain’t no respect

As I continued to accumulate stuff on my constant search for perfection, I lost respect for my belongings. Everything became so replaceable and never good enough. I never sat and looked around my apartment and thought to myself, “Wow, what I have is just what I need and exactly what I want to surround myself with.” It never felt good enough. I was always looking to upgrade and fill with what I thought would portray whatever image I was going for on a given day.

Not only was everything not good enough, I didn’t take care of my things the way that I should have. I constantly found myself drowning in laundry and dirty dishes. There was never a time when I would look in my closet and feel confident with what I had. I would never make the conscious decision to appreciate the cookware in my kitchen. I never truly respected my belongings.

How I spiraled out of control in the best way

The day I began my journey to less was one of the most impactful days of my life. Since I’ve decided to minimize, I haven’t had a day go by where I haven’t been consciously evaluating the necessity and value of something in my life. Since I’ve decided to minimize, I have had constant piles (yes, piles) of belongings that have wound up by the door to go in the trash or to donate.

Everyday is a new day to focus (there’s that word for 2018 again) my environment and hone in on what I believe is important. As I get ready each day, I look into a closet that embodies my everyday style. As I cook in my kitchen, I use cookware that is necessary. As I view the things I have in my environment, I no longer feel guilty for accumulating or holding onto things, because I don’t.

(Disclaimer: My last name is Jones.)

This Jones is no longer trying to keep up with the Jones’s

Today, as I walked down the sunny, winter streets of Milwaukee, I felt so confident. Granted, I was wearing the new spring jacket I just got for 50% off at Columbia, but still, this is now the only spring/fall jacket that I own. I am no longer trying to appease the masses by repping jackets to keep up with whatever stylings are ‘appropriate’ for the day.

In a materialistic society such as this, social media slams us with a plethora of personas to try to mimic and embody. Since I have honed my closet, honed my stylistic interests I have much less of an aptitude for coveting what someone else has. I look at myself in the mirror and appreciate how I have styled myself, because I know that I have done it just for me. I finally see the style that has been yearning to make its way out from behind the veil of everyone else’s opinion.

Home Sweet Home is so much sweeter

Since I have brought more focus to the representation of myself in my home, I have found myself more and more dedicated to caring for my space. Vacuuming with so much less furniture is a breeze and doing my dishes takes half the time I would have taken before. After accumulating most of my wardrobe in the basket, laundry used to take at least an hour or two to sort and fold. Today, I sort and fold in about 15 minutes and I’m on my way.

As I look around my apartment, I see the things I have made the conscious decision to keep in my life and I want to take care of those things. I want to take better care of my home, because I have taken such care in deciding what stays and what goes.

Say thank you and be grateful

“Say thank you and be grateful.” is a saying that comes out of my mouth a little too often. Most times it is in a moment where I am forcing my love on someone who is being too nice to take my affection and I look at them and repeat my mantra: “Say thank you and be grateful.”

Since making the decision to minimize, I have found my gratuity for my life grow. I am now focused on the things I have made the decision to surround myself with. It is so much easier to be grateful for what you have when you’re not having to split your attention a million different ways. I am grateful for the simplicity of my apartment and the simplicity of the care of my apartment. This also goes for everything that now resides within it.

I don’t know how I used to do it

As I reflect on how much more fulfillment I have in my life, just by decreasing the amount of clutter, I don’t know how I used to do it. I remember the feeling of being overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that I owned, but I don’t know how I used to comprehend living with all of it everyday. It’s amazing what a very serious purge can do to your life!

My outlook on my world is forever changed and I am so grateful to have made my way down this path to a lighter life and a lighter mind to go along with it. How have you minimized and brought focus to your life? Are there ways that you implement a greater focus of gratitude and respect for your world? Share with me in the comments!

Today, I am living the life I have always imagined.

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