Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash
 
 

Minimalism may be a term you’ve heard thrown around a lot lately; especially with Marie Kondo’s Netflix series coming out. The idea of living more freely by living with less. Minimalism is the idea of getting rid of what isn’t necessary for our lives. You free up space to feel less overwhelmed and focus on making memories instead of buying more things.

The concept of Minimalism may seem like a pretty foreign concept. Capitalism thrives off us wanting to buy the latest and greatest. Minimalism promotes the exact opposite– essentially, going against the grain of how society currently works.

But you’re not here because you go with the rest of the herd. You’re here for a new outlook on how to live.

But let me start this post with the video that changed my mind about the way I was living. Several years ago, I watched Graham Hill’s Ted Talk, “Less stuff, more happiness.” I had my Korean students watch it the other day– seriously, being able to control the content your students see is the best. Secretly trying to change the world via my students? Absolutely!

Anyways, here’s the video:

 

Nowadays there are plenty of other talks to listen to that inspire people to delve into the minimalist lifestyle. I’m just being real with you; Graham’s is what got me going.

I had never heard of the idea “minimalism.” I mean, I was only a college student, and I didn’t own that much anyways. But I also wasn’t the most organized person in the world. Messy places drive me INSANE. Go figure living with a mother who is borderline insane when it comes to cleaning, led me to be unable to handle my lack of organizational skills.

That’s when minimalism stepped in and saved my life.

Whoa, dramatic. But on a serious note, minimalism was a blessing to stumble upon. That drawer you have that’s full of “things” you don’t have a place for them to go but who knows when you might need them again one day? Say goodbye to that, but better yet, be excited about saying goodbye to that drawer.

After watching Graham’s video about minimalism, I went on a rampage through my apartment and got rid of about 1/2 of everything I owned. I felt oddly free. Who knew that getting rid of a large chunk of my stuff would make me feel this kind of happiness?

From then on, I was addicted.

But Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of all the things in your house that you don’t use and forcing yourself from buying any impulsive purchases.. it’s (as cliche as this sounds) a way of life. I’ve managed to find ways to adapt minimalism into my life in more ways than just my purchasing habits, though I’ll, of course, talk about those too.

Minimalism: in the closet

Ever heard of a capsule wardrobe? How about buying “timeless” pieces? Maybe you’ve heard of the KonMari method that’s been a hot topic for homemakers everywhere?

Adopting a minimalist style has given me the freedom of being able to pack up all of my stuff into a suitcase, backpack, and carry-on and move where ever I want in the world. I can’t explain enough how great this feeling is. Living a nomadic lifestyle, with no “home” to leave my extra clothes at, required that I downsize, like a lot. Luckily I had already begun the process before my first initial move to China.

Now, two years later, I love love love being able to wake up, decide what I want to wear between a select few items in my closet and get on with my day. I no longer spend 20–30 minutes trying to make the right outfit decision. Life has become so much more straightforward.

Minimalism: in what you eat

HOLD UP. I’m not about to tell you that you need to eat the most minimal amount of food possible. I’m not crazy. But have you ever gone into your kitchen and realized that you have all these ingredients and frozen food, yet you have nothing to eat? It’s ok; I’m guilty of this too! I genuinely believe this is another example of consumerism rearing its ugly head into our lives. Do we need over 30 different kinds of spices? Or 10 different flour choices? When your kitchen is organized, with essential ingredients that you can use in plenty of different recipes, cooking becomes much easier!

And trust me, anything I say about making cooking easier has been tried and tested because I am unskilled in the kitchen. I avoid difficult recipes, with too many ingredients, like the plague.

Plus, the more simple a recipe is, the more likely it is to be healthier for our bodies! Our bodies crave simple, wholesome, and nutritious food; minimalism is a great way to ensure that.

Minimalism: in the home

Aside from wardrobe, the second most popular realm for minimalism is interior design.

When I was growing up, my parents had a lot of decorations around the house (this was their pre-downsizing days). I remember having all of these different little knick-knacks that were placed all around our living room to make it have this specific design “theme.” We even had a life-size chimpanzee (I named him Bob) that held a bucket on top of its head in which a large ivory candle perched. Yep, a purely decorative, life-size chimpanzee. Sure, it looked cool, but I don’t even want to know how much it cost. Even worse is that the beautiful ivory candle perched inside the bucket on Bob’s head, we weren’t allowed to light it. The candle sat pristinely untouched. Never to be enjoyed. Purely decorative within the bucket on top of Bob, the strictly decorative chimpanzee.

Ok, enough about Bob. I’m sure you get my point. Instead of decorating your home or apartment with a plethora of useless decorations, consider going with a more minimal style, a few pieces here and there, and save your money for something that matters! I suggest travel because, you know, #adventures and stuff.

Minimalism: in your digital space

So this one you may not have thought of before. I struggle/am in the process of this myself. Keeping our digital space minimalized.

So here’s an example: you’re scrolling through your phone trying to find that one photo you took three weeks ago while you were walking to work that reminded you of your friend, who you wanted to show when you saw her. So you’re scrolling; through the collection of endless screenshots of quotes, hundreds of differently angled selfies, and the five different versions of a single photo that seems to accumulate each time you try and edit a photo for Insta. Then, you finally find the picture but realize you just awkwardly spent way too long silently scrolling through your phone for one single photo.

Sadly, I’ve been there too.

Or even worse, the dreaded “Storage Full” Alert. The struggle with the storage capacity on our phones is truly real.

So why not minimalize our digital space too? When I switched laptops, I made it a goal to downsize the number of files and photos that I had on my computer. I sure as hell don’t need several blurry pictures from my trip to Zion. I also have the habit of taking the SAME PHOTO twice, you know, just in case there was some unexpected problem with my photo? (I have no idea why I do this).

I’ve managed to somehow re-accumulate a lot of clutter on my desktop and within my different folders, but it’s a lot better than the mess that had occurred after six years of owning my old laptop. I also enjoy the simplicity on my phone as well. It can already be a bit annoying using our tiny phone screens; having what is only necessary and what we use is a huge headache saver.

Minimalism: in your fitness routine

So let’s start with a disclaimer. I am not a personal trainer. I have no certification. The closest I ever came to anything, in that sense, was when I worked the front desk of a women’s Pilates studio.

What I am writing about is just my opinion.

Staying fit and finding a workout always felt like a constant struggle for me. It’s probably safe to say that it does for you too. So why make it complicated? Bodyweight exercises are priceless. When I do exercise routines like these, I don’t need any weights or machines. I can’t explain enough how ideal this is for someone who travels! I don’t have to worry about getting to a gym or some studio to get my fit on. I can do a YouTube video from my laptop and BAM! Done. Or, if I am feeling it, I can add in some weight by holding onto a water bottle, book, or anything heavy. Not to mention a chair can make plenty of workouts that much harder (think step-ups and tricep dips).

Minimalism: in your mind

I recently read a quote from an Insta friend. It talked about how everything that goes on in our minds is a choice. Worry is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Stress is a choice.

In today’s society, for some incredibly odd reason, we’re brought up to think the “real world” is some scary, busy, rollercoaster ride of a place that is inevitably going to cause us a lot of obstacles and hardships.

Damn, that sounds awful.

I genuinely believe this is all part of our mindset. Ever since I had all of my valuables stolen in China (seriously, everything I held dear to my heart. Post on this coming soon), I realized that I had a choice to feel the way I did in situations. Yea, I cried my eyes out for hours. But then I realized, what difference is me crying going to make? It won’t bring my stuff back. Crying will only cause me more pain. So instead of worrying and being upset about all of the problems this event was going to cause me and all the money I had just lost, I chose to set it aside until it was necessary for me to think about it.

Nowadays, I try to apply this to aspects of my life that would usually cause me a lot of stress. Instead of feeling like fitness is this awful chore that I have to do if I don’t want to be out of shape and “fat” (I cringe using that word), I think of exercise as an investment for my health and future. That, combined with doing activities I enjoy, has made fitness such a better experience than it used to be.

So give it a try! When you approach something in life that you would typically stress over or would cause you a lot of worries, breathe. Realize that you will get through it (because you’re a boss) and take it one step at a time.