To the casual observer perhaps my throwing things away challenge probably seems a little pointless. Or maybe like doing something for the sake of it. There are plenty of essays out there written by people who are far more articulate than I am. But these are the reasons choosing a more minimalist lifestyle makes sense to me:
1. Having less stuff is less stressful; especially clothes and especially for people like me who can’t make decisions. I don’t like this about myself but every morning, and often again in the evening, I have an “I don’t know what to wear” panic. Take out the choice and you take out the stress. Sometimes a lot of choice can be a good thig but mostly it paralyses us. (I also get this feeling when confronted with a huge supermarket aisle).
I dream of having a tiny wardrobe. One where everything goes with everything and I don’t have to think before getting dressed.
2. I can’t speak for anyone else but clearly being able to see and find everything that I own makes me buy less. Instead of “I have nothing to wear to X in this huge pile of things”, it’s “Oh I have that dress hung up there.” People worry about wearing the same thing to different parties, but do you really remember what other people were wearing the last few times you saw them? Even if you do, do you care? (A good post to read that addresses this point is Nina Yau’s account of how she wore the same outfit for 7 weeks.) I used to have so many clothes I would forget what I owned, buying something new for each special occasion, and therefore adding to the problem. As counter-intuitive as it might seem, reducing my possessions has made me want for less.
3. It’s easy to move. In the last two years I’ve moved from York to Newent to India to Newent to Leamington Spa to another house in Leamington Spa. The novelty of having a lot of things soon wears off, and being forced to leave things behind forces you to evaluate what you really need.
4. You don’t need it. I spent six months in India with only as many possessions as could fit in a backpack. I didn’t really miss anything, in fact I felt more free than I’ve ever done in my life. It made me realise that the things we cling on to for comfort aren’t really doing us any favours. When I moved back to the UK and was confronted with the everything else I felt suffocated, and have been trying to give it away ever since.
5. Less stuff is easier to keep tidy. Obvious but true.
6. Minimalism leaves space to focus on what matters. At the moment, just as the dieters mind is never far from food, I am clearly very preoccupied with my stuff. But eventually I hope to get to a place where I don’t own very much and don’t think I need to buy any more. Buying less and having less to maintain will leave me more money for travel and experiences and more time for friends and relationships. That can only be a good thing.