What I have learned after 4 years as a minimalist

It was almost 4 years ago that I made the, at the time, rather radical decision to move out of my mum’s apartment and to New York City. I donated and sold almost everything I owned, I packed it all up into a big suitcase and a carry-on and moved to New York City to intern at a fashion e-commerce startup. After my internship I moved to London, a city I always wanted to love in, and after living there for two years I joined my partner in New York City. None of this would happened if it wasn’t for minimalism. Minimizing my possessions, giving away stuff I didn’t need and focusing on what’s truly important has been life changing for me. Today I wan to share with you what I’ve learned after 4 years as a minimalist.

1. Validating needs versus wants is life changing

Needs include things like food, water, and shelter – things that are essential to ones well-being. A want, is simply something that people desire to have and that they may not even need. I think you get the idea. Looking deep at your needs and wants can be an absolute game changer. Whenever I am about to buy something I take a closer look at it: Do I need this item or do I simply want it without really needing it? Taking the time to look a little deeper and to differentiate between needs and wants has been very eye-opening and I can only highly recommend you to take a closer look at the things you buy and desire.

2. Letting go of stuff gets easier and easier

I move a lot. Over the last couple of years I moved roughly 6 times and while I do find moving a little challenging, moving gets me excited! Every time I move I declutter – I let go of anything bulky and heavy, I sell and donate anything I no longer need and I always make sure to really only move with what’s essential. This of course is dependent on where I move to and what resources I have available to me. However, as I always move by plane or via public transport I always make sure that everything fits into my suitcase and carry-on luggage. Every time I move letting go gets a little easier and I find that I am a little less attached to what I do own every time I let go of some more.

3. Spacious places are for humans, not stuff

I love space, just empty space with lots of natural light. I’ve realized that I am not so fond of furniture and that I can do without what you’ll find at most conventional western homes. My room back at my mum’s apartment used to be filled with furniture and lots of stuff for which I needed the furniture I didn’t even use. Later on I even upgraded my wardrobe and got a HUGE piece of furniture just for my clothing. When I decided to move to New York City in 2014 I sold all my furniture and seeing every piece go, bit by bit, was like a breath of fresh air. My room was so much better with so little furniture in it. That’s when I realized that all I really need is something to sleep on and something where I can put my clothes. That’s it. I love space – space for doing yoga, space for hanging out, space for my friends. Lots of space for my stuff? No, thank you.

4. Less stuff, less stress

I am someone who tends to get stressed out rather easily and I’ve come to understand that the fewer items I have, the less stressed out I am feeling in this particular area of life. Knowing that everything has its place and knowing where everything is gives me a tremendous sense of peace and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Prior to my big purge in 2014 my material possessions were cluttering up my life and the things I was holding on to (think books) were a burden. Freeing myself of what I didn’t need gave me back my sanity.

5. New things aren’t as satisfying

I used to browse sites like ASOS for new clothing on an almost daily basis. Yes, DAILY. I was always browsing their “NEW IN” section to see if they had gotten anything pretty, anything interesting I’d like. I would put things on my wishlist and whenever they were running a sale I’d place an order. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t spending a whole bunch of money on clothing, I was saving a lot of money at the time to move out. However, I was spending a considerable amount of money on clothing, money that would have been better spend on travel. Whenever a new online order of clothing would arrived I was beyond excited, I was thrilled. While I still enjoy treating myself to a t-shirt or a new pair of leggings I do so because I actually need it, meaning my previous top or bottom may no longer be wearable and repairable. I find it way more satisfying to buy something knowing that I actually need it, than buying something just because. I also buy used whatever I can, from clothing to electronics and always get a kick out of it whenever I find something I was looking for at a bargain price.

6. Change can be embraced with ease

As a kid I remember struggling with change whether it was a change in my environment or a change in some of my relationships, it took me a while to adjust. Now that I really only own what I value I find it a lot easier to deal with the ups and downs of life. I’ve got so much more mental space and clarity that I can deal with whatever life throw’s at me and I’ve grown to love change. While I still sometimes find myself struggling with change, it’s gotten so much easier.

7. Greater awareness + confidence

Letting go of all that excess in my life gave me a chance to dive deeper into other areas of my life, it gave me an opportunity to truly explore. I got in touch with likes and dislikes, my wants and needs and everything in-between. I started reading a lot more, I took a closer look at everything I was doing at the time and have developed much greater awareness as a result of it. Since becoming a minimalist I’ve gone vegan, started my ashtanga yoga home practice and made my own products including soaps. Getting rid of everything that wasn’t serving me in my life and actively working towards what I wanted to do gave me a huge confidence boost and a whole lot of clarity.

8. Small moments are everything

Small moments of joy is what I live for. Cooking with friends and family, drinking tea after a long and cold day, a smile from a stranger, long hugs, the smell of freshly baked cookies, passionate kisses – it’s those tiny little moments that all our life’s are made up of that I truly cherish. Minimalism has helped me to truly appreciate every single day and I am forever grateful because of that.

9. Relationships are precious

Minimalism allows me to be more present and it gives me the opportunity to focus on what I truly cherish: my friends and family. My loved ones are everything to me. Decluttering and letting go of all that excess helped me with freeing up time, energy and mental space that I can now give to my friends and family. I am so much more appreciative of every single one of them and always aim to spend as much time with everyone as I can.

10. Adventure calls my name louder than stuff

As I mentioned earlier, there was a time when I browsed online shops such as ASOS, daily. I spent way too much time looking for stuff that I could buy only to put it on my wishlist. I always loved traveling and yet I was spending a considerate amount of money and time on looking for and buying clothing, clothing that I didn’t really need. Today, I am solely focused on experiences. I am looking into cities I could visit, countries I would like to see, restaurants I would like to check out, meals I would like to cook and activities I would want to do with my friends. My focus has completely shifted and I feel so much better.

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