I get asked that question a lot. Why minimalism. Why did you start? Why do you continue? Why is it so important to you?
For now, I was able to break it down into three reasons...
1. Jesus says so…
It wasn't the original reason I started pursuing minimalism but one of the huge things I noticed over time was how minimalism was directly connected to my faith in the Lord. I always thought of myself as pretty minimal. I didn’t have sentimental attachment to everything and never really had a problem getting rid of stuff. But new stuff constantly made it through the door which is why I had to purge so often. And after a season of unemployment several years ago, my fear of being without, caused me to hold onto things I didn’t need. I also made a bad habit of saying yes to anything FREE just in case I needed it. I thought having more STUFF would make me feel more SECURE, but instead it made me feel overwhelmed, burdened, and more stressed than I already was. Being reminded of where I can put my trust and my hope helped me to let go of all those extras and unnecessary items.
Matthew 6:11, 25-29
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…"
“...I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
2. the earth says so...
"Currently, 80% of the world's resources are used by a minority of the world's population (17%).” Read that again. Seriously. (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/21/overconsumption-environment-relationships-annie-leonard)
"The average American household contains more than 300,000 items." (Los Angeles Times)
"The "ecological footprint" of human activity was 50 per cent higher than the capacity of the Earth's land and oceans in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available, with people living as though we have a planet and a half to sustain us. This means the Earth now needs 1.5 years to produce and replenish the natural resources consumed in just one year. Rising population and consumption means that by 2030, two planets will not be enough to meet human demand, threatening the resources including food, freshwater and a stable climate that people need to survive, the report said.” Read the rest of that article here- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/9266628/Over-consumption-is-killing-off-the-worlds-most-precious-wildlife-from-tigers-to-tuna.html
These are just a few of the staggering statistics I’ve discovered since learning about minimalism. I was ignorant of how my consumption affected every resource. @hippieindisguise has been such a huge inspiration for me on my minimal journey and was one of the first people who mentioned eco-minimal living, including the benefits of buying secondhand. This also pointed me to the “mend it movement”. Let’s fix the clothes we own rather than disposing of them and replacing them when they tear or no longer fit. I am not perfect at this and cannot claim that all my clothes are secondhand or ethically sourced but we cannot continue to use a finite resource as if it is infinite. Controlling our consumption can literally change the world.
3. my frazzled, sleep-deprived, mom-brain says so…
This is where it started for me but it’s obviously not where it ended. I was tired and overwhelmed. My house always looked like I was losing a game of Jumanji. My kids kept telling me they were bored and my full time job was referee. They were constantly fighting over things and when I told them to clean up their reaction was the same as if I had lit them on fire. So, Much. Screaming.
That’s when I read a blog about a mom who had taken all her kids toys away as a punishment. The plan was, that over time, they would earn their toys back. But instead, although their behavior improved, they didn’t want their toys back. Her house was clean, her kids weren’t fighting, they stopped telling her how bored they were, and their imaginative play went through the roof.
Don’t my kids need these toys that encourage imaginative play in order to use their imaginations??? Turns out that ummm. NOPE. Nope they don’t.
The more toys I got rid of, the more they played with EACH OTHER. The less clutter that surrounded them, the less they argued over who got to hold the clutter. hahaha I’ve since read lots of articles on this topic and do you know why they believe kids fight over toys when another kid has them? Studies have shown (and I’m summarizing here) that children's brains are not capable of large amounts of decision making. It’s why they say they’re bored when they’re surrounded by stuff to play with. Their brain literally cannot compute the quantity and they are unable to choose one thing because they can’t really “see” any of it. That being said, when another child is holding a toy, the decision has been made for them. Their brain can process that one item. So they want it. And the fight ensues.
And it’s not just the kids who can’t handle the quantity. Although as adults our brain CAN process the amount of stuff surrounding us, studies have found that the more stuff we (women) own and are surrounded with, the higher cortisol levels we have. (stress hormone) There is a link between clutter and depression. Depression and anxiety. This was me. Clutter everywhere. Depressed and anxious.
"With our 3.1% of the world’s children, U.S. consumers purchase more than 40% of the toys consumed globally. In the United States, they found we have “child-centered homes”, with the children’s belongings spilling out into living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and even parents’ bedrooms. Parents purchase more for their children, because they work more to maintain their quality of life and therefore feel guilty about not spending time with their children. Feelings of guilt (and also knowing deep down that material goods are a poor substitute for time together) add to depression and anxiety.” http://nourishingminimalism.com/2015/05/clutter-depression-and-anxiety-a-vicious-cycle.html
And the thing is, we joke that it’s normal. We tease each other about how exhausting it is and laugh about how having kids has destroyed our homes and it made me feel like there was no alternative. This was motherhood. Motherhood = total chaos.
And it just doesn’t have to be true. Everyone told me that the transition from 2 kids to 3 was going to be the hardest. And that made sense. The hubs and I would be outnumbered. I’d have more kids than I have hands. etc. But this has truly been the easiest transition so far. The least stressful. The most enjoyable. And honestly the cleanest my house has been since we started having kids 5 years ago. haha Postpartum depression is real and hit hard with my last two. This time, there has been a quiet ease in the transition and I truly blame/thank minimalism.
“Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we discover all the things that really do.” (Joshua Becker- Becoming Minimalist)