They say change is as good as a holiday.
And it’s common to associate positive change with the idea of gaining something.
It’s human nature to want more out of life. And if we want something badly enough, we’ll make a change to get it. In our pursuit of happiness and fulfilment, wanting something better often results in gaining more. And that can equate to more stuff.
But there’s a different way to go about creating positive change…
Focus on creating MORE with less.
Ever noticed how liberating it can feel to spring clean your living room or do an office tidy up? Giving away the things you no longer need rather than holding onto them for a rainy day. Clearing the dust from the air.
Reducing the clutter in your life, both mentally and physically, leads to simplicity and clarity. It creates a lightness of being as good as any holiday. More room to move – in your head and in your lounge.
And this idea of clearing away the clutter can be applied to both your business life and your personal life. Think about how much better your decisions are when your mind is clear. How much more productive you can be when your focus is straight as an arrow, because there’s no physical or mental obstacles getting in the way.
What enjoying a lightness of being could mean.
There’s a lifestyle movement which promotes simplicity. It’s called Minimalism. Originally coined to describe a modern arts movement in the 1960s, Minimalist Art was based on basic, geometric shapes arranged in simple, abstract formats. Today being a minimalist also involves simplifying your life by living according to minimalist principles.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus have written essays and books, toured countries and made a movie, to share their own journey towards this style of simplicity.
Here they explain what we can achieve when following the principle of “less is more”:
“Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.
Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which actually aren’t things at all.”
Not only can less equate to more. Less can create more.
Now, I’m NOT a hard-core minimalist like these guys, but after many opportunities experiencing life both ways, I now lean towards this way of thinking.
And since making a big life change 2 years ago, I’ve continued following a simple path which creates room for breathing space. Room for more.
Let me be clear, I’m NOT an ascetic and I’m not advocating a life of penny-pinching frugality. I do have stuff and I do enjoy having stuff. From wearing pretty dresses to using cool gadgets. Eating artisanal food to keeping close a few sentimental items that hold memories for me and help to ground me.
My point is that I just don’t have a lot of this stuff.
I’ve become choosy about what I fill my life with – be that material goods or people. Because I find less value in stuff.
I find more value in experiences, relationships, learning, observing, making and growing.
Doing collaborative work with a clear purpose and meaning. Supporting people I care about in a way that helps them reach their potential and prosper. Taking country walks and listening to birds tweeting in my apple tree. It’s simple, fundamental stuff.
We each have our own interests and desires. And they can be simple or complex. Material, intellectual or experiential. Whatever they are, they should help to create a sense of fulfilment that is more than just fleeting. And that means they should appeal to your identity – your values and your beliefs.
In Joshua Becker’s definition of minimalism he touches on an important point, which is also the main point I want to put across in this post…
Decluttering is more about the INTERNAL than the external.
“I have learned minimalism is always a matter of the heart. After the external clutter has been removed, minimalism has the space to address the deepest heart issues that impact our relationships and life.”
When our stuff becomes more meaningful than the people in our life, something is wrong. When our stuff becomes a short-term substitute for other things in our life that could actually provide longer-term fulfilment, something is wrong.
Ryan and Joshua hit the nail on the head about why cluttering up our lives becomes problematic:
“Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves.”
Simplifying our life is about changing our mindset about, and our relationship with, our things.
As simple and as complicated as that.
What do you have to gain from decluttering your life, you mind, your office or your home?
Apart from more room to breathe and focus, you’ll have more space in your life for living it more freely.
So, bring out the feather duster and the goodwill box and get to it! :)
Further resources on simple living …
- Minimalism FAQs created by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame.
- As a counterbalance, this New York Times article takes a cold, hard, critical look at where Minimalism came from and where promoting minimalist-based behaviours might be taking us (spoiler: their view is not as positive).
- The Tiny House Movement is gaining momentum too.
- And this informative little video might make you think twice about the stuff you buy:
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