Dear Barb – Minimalism: It’s in the Details

Dear Barb:

I’ve been seeing a lot of information about minimalism. My girlfriend tells me I should look into it, she says I have too much clutter/stuff in my life and I need to live a simpler lifestyle. I don’t agree. I feel I worked hard to accumulate my stuff, so why should I get rid of it. I just don’t see the advantage. She says I’m closed minded and unwilling to change. I think there are lot of people like me who are totally happy hanging on to their stuff. What’s your opinion? Thanks, Brad.

Hey Brad:

Have you looked into minimalism? It is not simply getting rid of stuff, it is a lifestyle change and worth considering. Decluttering your home and your life has many benefits to your mental and physical health, and your overall sense of freedom. Possessions can weigh us down. Often people feel the need to collect possessions to compete with friends or family. If your brother gets a new truck, you want a better truck. Society attempts to convince us that we need these items to feel good about ourselves. We don’t! In reality, they are distractions. Ask yourself how many items you have bought that you really wanted. Dave Ramsey is a New York Times bestselling author of “The Total Money Makeover” says “We buy things we don’t like with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”

Decluttering our homes helps to reduce overall stress. Imagine walking into your home and seeing only what you need. Your countertops only hold items you need and use daily, rather than items that sit and collect dust, like that old cookie jar you got for a wedding gift and have never used. These things can be donated. Give others a chance to use items you don’t. Another way of minimizing your life is by clearing your schedule of appointments after 5pm. When you come home after work, spend time with your family doing things you want to do. Without having to spend buying things to impress others, you will require less money, therefore you will have to work less. Without these distractions, your will have a clearer direction towards the things you want to do. As well, by doing the things you want to do, you will get to know yourself better and discover what you really want in life. Your relationships will be deeper and more meaningful as you quit competing and comparing. Begin your journey into minimalism with small steps. Start with one room in your house by going through drawers and closets and take out everything that you don’t absolutely need and put it away for 30 days. If during those 30 days you have not had to use any of these items, donate them. Then move on to the next room. As you progress through your house, you will see and feel the benefits of a minimalistic lifestyle. When you are ready to totally commit to this lifestyle, there are many books available to help with the transition. Also Netflix is now showing “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.” This film is available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and on DVD. So before you just bush off your girlfriend’s suggestion, dive a little deeper, maybe this is something you could benefit from. Thanks for your timely question Brad.

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Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length and to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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