HOW TO BE A MINIMALIST WHEN YOU LOVE STUFF
There’s a common assumption that to fully embrace the Minimalist lifestyle, you have to get rid of all your stuff. Minimalism is much more than throwing away everything you own and living a life of scarcity. Here are some helpful tips and a personal story of how to be a minimalist when you love stuff.
WHEN IT FEELS LIKE MINIMALISM IS STEALING YOUR JOY
As you’ll read more of in this article, I love collecting elephants and now have quite a few. However, I also love a Minimalist lifestyle and these two aspects of my life don’t immediately feel like they sit well together.
Do you have a collection of something or have a lot of one type of item? For example, perhaps you enjoy sewing so you have lots of fabrics and threads? Maybe you or your partner have a vintage record collection or a shed full of tools for various DIY projects.
Perhaps you enjoy a cosy home with lots of throws and cushions, or even a wall of hanging plants. Maybe you have a thing for shoes and you’d rather eat worms than part with that pink sparkly pair of heels sitting in your closet.
Going Minimalist and clearing that fifth set of measuring spoons might be one thing, but parting with our most treasured collections can test us all!
If you’d like to embrace a clutter-free life but it feels like minimalism is trying to steal your joy, take heart.
In this post I’m sharing some helpful tips and reminders and a personal example of how to be a minimalist when you love stuff (and in my case – my elephant collection).
MY (NOT SO MINIMALIST) ELEPHANT COLLECTION
My love of elephants goes way back. I have always been fascinated by their heightened sensitivities, their wide range of emotions, their tight-knit family communities where they nurture their young and care for their old.
Elephants are wise beyond their years, never forget anything and place great value on the wisdom passed down to them over generations. Their ears form the shapes of the continents from which they come and despite their size, they can walk so softly over a stick that it won’t break.
They sense when one of their own is dying, they know to guide a sick relative to its feet so that its bodyweight won’t crush the air from its lungs and their babies are little comedians as they master the use of their trunks and flap their ears wide to scare the birds.
In short, I love elephants. And, as I can’t have a real one, I have collected little sculptures of elephants and other elephant paraphernalia since I was young and I now have quite a collection.
TOO MANY ELEPHANTS vs BEING A ‘TRUE MINIMALIST’
In discovering minimalism and decluttering a huge amount of our family’s stuff that we no longer needed, want or even knew we had, I hit a stumbling block when it came to my elephants.
I’d spent many years and quite a bit of money collecting them. Each was unique, chosen and purchased either by me or as thoughtful gifts from loved ones because they were beautiful, quirky, intricate, carved, fired in clay, made of glass, metal, precious stone, wood – you name it, I had it…
How on earth would I be able to part with my collection only because it (supposedly) didn’t fit in with my minimalist journey?
I couldn’t just throw it all away or donate it to someone else because this was my collection, my choice of elephants and represented a piece of my personality and something that I cared passionately about.
I wondered if it was really possible for me to be a ‘true minimalist’ and I also worried that in becoming a minimalist I would have to make some sacrifices that I just didn’t want to make. Minimalism is meant to have a positive impact, not spoil my fun and enjoyment of things!
I felt confused, frustrated and stuck. I wanted to pursue my minimalist experiment but didn’t want it to suck the joy from my life. I headed back to the drawing board (the internet) to see where I was going wrong…
THE MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE IS ABOUT MORE THAN YOUR STUFF
As I trawled the internet for sources of inspiration and comfort (that Minimalism was meant to be rewarding and fulfilling not an exercise in deprivation), I began to learn that the minimalist lifestyle is about more than your stuff.
I’d began exploring Minimalism by decluttering my home and it’s still a great first place to begin your own Minimalist journey. Yet, I hadn’t fully appreciated that my physical stuff was just one part of the equation. It sure felt like a huge part as we had a lot of stuff and clutter, but I wasn’t yet able to see beyond that clutter mountain!
Once I began to really think about why I was clearing my clutter, exactly what I chose to keep and why (rather than just chucking it all out and hoping I wouldn’t need it again), then things began to shift.
I focused on the ‘why’ of what I was doing, rather than the act of getting rid of stuff. When I understood the ‘why’ I began to feel more comfortable in getting rid of some things and keeping others (like my elephants).
In short, I began to learn that the Minimalist lifestyle is about more than stuff. It’s about asking yourself questions, identifying what’s important and making choices that align with what’s important to you. That’s the key to making Minimalism work for you and your family and allowing the benefits to filter through into every aspect of your life.
The Minimalist lifestyle isn’t just about the stuff in your home. It’s about personal choice and intention.
MINIMALISM AND INTENTIONAL LIVING
On this site I share lots of tips about decluttering, simplicity and minimalist living. The thread that weaves them together is the art of intention.
It’s about defining what’s important to you in life (from people to stuff and anything in between) and making space for more of what lifts you up and less of what brings you down.
It’s not about curating the perfect life, which isn’t possible, but it is about curating the best life you can for yourself in whatever way that means to you.
For some of us, this is made easier when we have less clutter in our lives. We have breathing space and room to focus on what’s important.
Going back to my elephants, at the moment they’re important to me. They add value and bring joy so my intentional choice is to keep them in my life and on my shelf!
If you’re questioning how to be a Minimalist when you love stuff, think differently…
Move away from the common assumption that being Minimalist means throwing everything out and move towards considering it as a life of intentional, deliberate decision-making.
Choose what brings you joy, happiness, peace, fulfilment, direction and lean away from the things that drain you and take up space in your home, schedule, mind and heart.
This is, for me, the true spirit of a Minimalist lifestyle and there’s plenty of room for my elephants!
A Minimalist lifestyle looks different for all of us because the decisions we take over what adds value to our life are unique.
There isn’t a rule book or a one-size-fits-all form of Minimalism that you have to follow to call yourself a ‘true Minimalist’.
In fact, if there is a rule about Minimalist living, it’s about remaining true to your priorities and values and making intentional decisions that align with those.
If there’s stuff in your home or your life that adds value in some way, it’s ok to keep it in. Being mindful of when that value becomes just clutter is the key for how to be a minimalist when you love stuff!
RESOURCES ON MINIMALIST LIVING
If you’re interested to learn more about Minimalism, here are some resources to help you get started:
- Why a Clutter-Free Life is an Intentional Life – explore the relationship between minimalism and intentional living
- How to Declutter Your Home and Life – helpful guidance on clearing your clutter, in all its shapes and forms
- Minimalism and shopping – Tips for mindful shopping so you can enjoy shopping without adding to your clutter
YOUR NEXT STEP…
Decluttering our homes is the first step many of us take in exploring a more minimalist, clutter-free life.
Knowing what to keep and why you’re keeping it is key to making the process smoother, less stressful and sustainable over the longer term. You don’t want to declutter your home one month, only to find it filling up the next.
For some helpful advice, tips and projects to help you clear clutter, the mindful and intentional way, why not get your free copy of my Declutter Starter Kit?
Pop your details in the box below to get your copy now…