Thursday, February 7, 2019

One in, one out: a rule on minimalism

With Netflix's "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" playing on everyone’s tv’s, this topic is top of mind for most of America right now. While I think it’s funny that it took the cutest woman and a lifestyle that is commonly practiced in other cultures to wake us up from a consumeristic cycle — I’m glad it’s bringing to light the fact that we really just like to hold on to stuff. 

Most of the time, more is just more. 

What you own should serve you, it should have purpose, it should be used  and make you happy. Having less actually makes more room in your life (weird, right?). Owning less helps you fully appreciate the things you do have. If you’re constantly getting new and more, you’ll forget and overlook the things you already own, it’s a vicious cycle. Owning less also reminds you that you don’t need much to be happy. 

DISCLAIMER:  I’m totally not an extreme minimalist by any means, we (read: I) have things we like to collect in our home like rocks and ceramics etc. What I’m talking about is a shift in the way we think, a new mindset. Changing the way we think on a daily basis: less wanting, less comparing, less wanting what someone else has and instead, seeking contentment and finding joy from the things you do have. 

Okay, continue. 

Have you ever gone on an extended vacation or trip? Where you’re gone for at least a week or more and you're wherever you are, living with a limited selection of your things. You’ve probably packed your favorite clothes and most of the things you need to carry out your day-to-day life (within reason). How often did you think about all the rest of your stuff at home? 
This extreme question (and it is extreme, I realize you’re not packing sentimental things, or the things to do your job, or a lot of things you actually would need to practically live) is a great way to get your mind thinking about what you actually need and use. 

Our culture is big on collecting things around us. More “feels better” and you always need more to satisfy that insatiable need for something else. But more really is just more sometimes. It’s extra. Excess. Surplus. Buy one get one free. Overabundance. Too much. Don’t actually need it. I mean, who decided that having a million things was ‘better’ anyway? 

This is a great reminder for all of us. As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of this looming temptation of more in my own life.  This post isn't a guilt trip. I hope it’s a reminder, or possibly a new way of approaching things, a call to contentment and a push back on the consumeristic mindset we’re all surrounded by.

So here it is,  a helpful tool to use when bringing things into your life, and one that Carman and I try to use as often as we can!
Asking a few simple questions before purchasing can help weed out a lot of excess before it even makes its way into your home :

01. Is this a replacement or something new entirely?  

02. Does it meet a need or a want? (not all wants are bad! but discerning the difference is important and will often lead to smarter purchases overall)

03. Will I use this item often?

03. Is it a style that will last?

05. Is it high quality? Is it made to last?

After you’ve gone down the mental checklist of questions (yours might look different than mine!), you’ve given yourself some time to consider the purchase rather than swiping or clicking buy like you’re in a race to the finish-line and someone else might buy *it* before you. If you’ve decided against it, great! If you’ve decided to purchase, still great! The goal is to get yourself thinking before you swipe. Ethical lifestyle / fashion is beyond just shopping ethically, but thinking that way as well. It's a mindset, remember? One that is meant to help you, the maker, and the world around us. 

If you’ve purchased whatever *it* is, a great tool that we try to implement in our household is the “One In, One Out” rule. To prevent clutter from building up, commit to donating/selling/giving away one item for every one that you bring in. We primarily just use this rule in our closets (and not always) — but if one item of clothing comes in, try to let one go. It’s a pretty easy rule to heed, if you’re honest with yourself there is always something in the back of your closet that is not getting a lot of wear / love and could better serve someone else (and give you a little extra room in the closet, in turn).

As a final note, sometimes when you’re getting rid of things, a sense of guilt creeps over you (I’m looking at you, Kon Marie do-ers of the world). You think, “how did this happen?!” - “where did all this stuff come from?!”. Instead of feeling guilty for having spent so much or holding on longer than you should have — realize that you’ve paid enough, it’s served its purpose and it’s okay to let go. 


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