By Samantha Papesch
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value, and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It requires a conscious decision because it is a countercultural lifestyle” ~ Joshua Becker
The other day, I realised something remarkable. For the better part of 12 months, I’ve had a considerable amount of freedom to do the things I love, despite the fact that it’s been my busiest year ever.
With young children and a household to manage, we’re no different from other families juggling everyday life, but last year we acquired a business which took my husband interstate Monday to Friday, and on top of that, my own job took a very demanding turn.
At the time it seemed like an insurmountable challenge. My husband would always pick up the domestic load whenever I put in long hours at work, so I was unsure whether I’d sink or swim with the double whammy of his absence.
The good news is, I didn’t sink. And what’s most surprising is that I’ve managed to keep (fairly) sane. My wonderfully supportive parents have played a major role, but the key to keeping all the balls in the air without losing my marbles? Having an uncluttered home.
My road to owning fewer possessions began two years ago with the introduction to minimalism via Joshua Becker. The philosophy resonated immediately. It was essentially what I valued at heart, I just didn’t know it had a name.
But, despite popular sentiment, minimalism isn’t just the latest movement with a trendy name. It’s a voluntary lifestyle that has been embraced, and advocated by human beings throughout the ages. (Diogenes of Sinope, Mahatma Ghandi, or my 70s favourites, Tom and Barbara Good)
At its core, minimalism is about finding happiness through a greater purpose. It’s an attitude; a state of mind; a belief system. One that allows us to connect to the basic good, and raw desires of our human hearts.
On a day-to-day level, it’s about summoning more time, space, energy and freedom by letting go of anything that weighs us down – so we can focus on what, and who, we love the most.
So how do we begin the journey? By peeling back the layers of anything that’s in the way.
Decluttering is the first step for many, including myself. In the domestic sense, it’s an exercise in removing any items you don’t love, need, or use any longer. If the item doesn’t bring value to you, or your environment, it’s a road-block, and it’s time to start clearing the way.
Getting started is different for everyone. For me, the allure of the benefits were so great I wanted to tackle the entire house immediately. Fortunately, patience prevailed and I decided to simplify the process and break it down into small, achievable bursts.
First on the hit-list was my plastics cupboard. What began as an innocent crush on these convenient little containers had grown into a fully-fledged polymer affair. The relationship was in dire need of reassessment.
So, I got to work and laid everything out on the table. Tupperware was tossed, favourite cups were flung, extra lunch boxes ejected, and lonesome lids let go. Tough, first world decisions were made that day, but at the end of it, things were much lighter.
From then on, when I opened the cupboard door, instead of being met with a sliding shambles, I was greeted with a welcome sense of calm. Finding, retrieving and reloading only the essential items was effortless – and all of a sudden I’d found sweet harmony in the corner of my kitchen.
Excited at the prospect of multiplying this effect, I wrote a list of everything else I could start knocking off: pots and pans, crockery, glassware, utensils, kitchen appliances, pantry items, cookbooks, books, magazines, stationary, cards, artwork, trinkets, toys, dress-ups, board games, electronics, sporting gear, bedding, pillows, linen, cushions, clothing, shoes, jewellery, makeup, nail polish, beauty items and cleaning products.
You name it, nothing was off limits.
But, the process of decluttering my home didn’t happen immediately. It was a labour of love spanning 12 months, if not more. Whenever an opportunity presented itself, I would fill bags for charity, give items away, sell stuff, or dispose of it. I would evaluate every item, quickly and simply using this filter: do I love it, do I need it, do I use it? If the answer was no to all of those questions, out it went.
A year ago, decluttering made domesticity vastly more manageable, and was the difference between making or breaking my sanity. Now, with less stuff, not only do I have more space and more time, I have less stress, less guilt, more freedom, and more energy to enjoy what really matters to me.
Decluttering is an evergreen task that takes discipline and consistency. But, once you’ve completed it on a large scale, the focus shifts to “being a ruthless editor of what you allow into your home”. The benefits of wanting and buying less are just as significant, so the same filter still applies.
Don’t get me wrong, my house isn’t a vision of perfection. We’re still an everyday family, and we definitely make mess – these days there’s just not as much to contend with.
Knowing where to begin is the hardest part of the decluttering journey, but it doesn’t have be overwhelming. There are plenty of simple and easy ways to do it.
Wherever you start, I hope you find the same sweet harmony somewhere in a corner of your home.