20 Nov 2012

The Power of Less

I love the video above. It has been made by Leo Babauta from zenhabits as an advertisement for his book The power of less (haven't read it yet but it's on my to read list ;-)). The video is expressing exactly how I feel right now too. Actually, I felt attracted to minimalism for a couple of years now. But I didn't want to get rid of stuff, interestingly, I rather wanted to digitize it and store it on tiny hard disks. This is why I struggled with minimalism a lot and I realized recently that I wasn't a minimalist at all as I focused on space solely and this is just a tiny fragment of what minimalism really is. There are many things that cannot be digitized and that we have to keep in their physical form. E.g. clothes, beauty items, our furniture and many more. I also have to admit - although I love digital books, the software for reading them sometimes spoils the party for me, too. It does not allow to add a dog-ear to book pages, underline words and sentences in different colours, write thoughts at the border of the page and such kinds of things that I love to do with my books. So, of course although I own a lot of digital books, I still do purchase, keep and read many books the old style as well.

My wardrobe and my beauty collection (and other collections) were and still are quite huge because I love to experiment and also love to have a choice. These collections were even bigger last year. Last year I started to force myself to use up my beauty items and while doing so, I discovered that I didn't like many of these items or that the shades didn't match and this is why I started to experiment more and this lead to many additional purchases. Although these purchase were expensive, they also very valuable because I got to know more about colours, makeup and what suits me and what I like and how I like myself to look like in different occasions. While evaluating and experimenting with beauty, I ended up purchasing a lot of new stuff and there were times when my collection also grew more than it shrunk. (I just made an inventory of my body lotions here and I was pretty shocked when I realized how huge the amount is. ;-)) But by means of my monthly empties, I established a routine of experimenting and decluttering and using up and this is something that I am very proud of today. My beauty stuff is used and although it seems like I'm hoarding, it is not real hoarding because I try, experiment and use stuff up and also declutter on a regular basis. In the future, however, I want to shrink the amount of beauty items that I possess much more. 

Besides using up and decluttering my beauty stuff, I also dedicated much effort to decluttering my home and trying to buy less stuff in general this year. Especially my wardrobe has benefited a lot from this effort. This year it shrunk to around half the size it had last year. And I purchased only very few new items. The next thing I want to tackle is my data. I have tons of it on a lot of hard disks. Hence, it will take some time but I want to thoroughly delete everything I don't use and don't need at the moment (and probably also won't need in the future). However, it is much easier to automize organisation and get an overview of tons of data than e.g. of tons of clothes. I'll see how much I'll delete but I think I'll be quite rigorous. Two weeks ago, I accidently destroid my email account where a lot of mails that I received over the last 3 years were stored. At first it was terrible and I felt pretty bad for a couple of days but then I realized how great it is to have a fresh start with email. Suddenly, I felt free and started to appreciate an empty email folder. ;-)

During the last weeks, I have contemplated a lot about minimalism and the advantages of having less stuff in my life. Here are my causes why I love minimalism:
  1. With less belongings it is much easier to maintain overview. Before I started to declutter, I just didn't know how many items of e.g. a specific clothes category I owned as there were so many items that I wasn't able to store them together. But storing items of the same category in different places is preventing any kind of overview, unfortunately. The more overview I have, however, the lower the chances that I end up buying similar items by accident. 
  2. With less belongings, the items can be organized and retrieved much easier. Before I started to declutter, I was prone to buy backups of items I liked very much. For example, I had a couple of items that I used often but were often misplaced such that I had to search for them for hours. The solution I had in mind was to deposit backups at different places. What I didn't understand at that time, however, is that I wasn't organized enough and that having many backups would not solve the problem but instead would make it larger. Increasing the amount of items makes them much more difficult to organize and retrieve. Although I had several backups, I still spent much time on searching for them because I still didn't find them easier - on the contrary. ;-) 
  3. With less belongings, they are much more appreciated and taken care of. As mentioned before, I was prone to purchase many backups of items I appreciated the most. However, the more I owned of them, the less I appreciated them. I discovered that if I own 10 pink blushes, I won't appreciate any of them as much as if I would own only the one I like most of these 10 pink blushes. It's much more fun using a beautiful and great blush when there aren't 9 others waiting for me to be used as well.
    I also started to discover the fun and fulfillment caused by repairing damaged items. E.g. dyeing a shirt that has stains or going to the shoemaker to repair damaged soles, etc. This is very rewarding for me because it's great to be mindful and to not waste stuff.
  4. There is no need to be afraid of the future. When items are used up or get damaged, it might be the case that we won't be able to repurchase these items. But there will always be a suitable substitute. When we stay open and are open for experiments and allow ourselves to make mistakes and allow mispurchases to happen, we will eventually find a good substitute. In the worst case, we can try to make an item ourselves, e.g. we can knit a sweater, sew a suit, mix a cream, ... or go to a professional who can do this for us. But in general, this won't be necessary anyway, because my experience showed me that there is always an appropriate substitute on the market when something is used up or is damaged. Usually, there rather are too many substitutes on the market which leaves us plenty opportunity for choice. :-)
    And I have discovered that emptying an item like a beauty product feels wonderful and it is such a great feeling when there is nothing to be used up next because I just run out of this product category completely. The great thing then is that I can go and purchase something new and maybe also try something new when I am in the mood. And when I am not in the mood to try something new, I just can buy my favourite known product. Hence, surprisingly it feels like I even have more choices then. :-)
  5. Limits and boundaries are good for us. Limits are natural and we should embrace them because trying to fit more and more todos/work/stuff/whatever into the same amount of time/space/whatever will eventually make us unhappy. It always will. So I try to limit myself concerning work, concerning space, concerning everything. And surprisingly, while doing so I discovered that I enjoy it a million times more. E.g. I love my work even more when I don't allow myself to work the full day on it. :-) Sometimes I have to force myself to stop. But then I am even more eager to start working in the next morning. Interestingly, the same holds for all other areas of my life, too.
What are your thoughts on minimalism? Do you find joy and see beauty in less as well? Do you try to limit yourself and appreciate self-imposed borders as well?

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