On Minimalism & the Ideas Behind It

Recently, I watched a phenomenal documentary on Netflix about minimalism. It’s called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, and it focusesd on two guys, Joshua and Ryan, who called themselves The Minimalists.

Realistically – and I have to be realistic here – I don’t think I could ever fully, truly become a minimalist. (But who knows, maybe I could!) But that doesn’t mean I didn’t take a lot of out of the documentary.

Most of us, in today’s age, have a lot of “stuff,” most of which we don’t need and half of which we probably don’t even use. That’s the first point that struck a chord with me. I look around my apartment, and all I see is stuff. I have so many clothes, half of which are t-shirts packed away in sealed bins that I’ve barely opened in the nearly two years I’ve lived here. I have so many books cluttering up the shelves, books I haven’t touched in years but can’t seem to part with. (To be fair, I had a lot MORE books before I moved, and donated probably 1/3 of my collection to charity at that time.) And then, of course, there’s the other stuff, like decorative items, that are probably cute but in the end, sit around and collect dust.

Why! Why do I have so much STUFF? I ask myself this now. Again, I don’t think I’m in the right place in my life, or the right mindset, to say I’ll get rid of it all and live off a five-piece closet or anything like that, but that doesn’t mean I can’t downsize a little. One of the ideas that really stood out to me from the documentary is thinking about each thing you own, and having a reason you own it. Some things I own because they’re necessary, or practical, or useful. Some things, just for entertainment. But some things seem to be past their entertainment, or useful, values, and yet they’re still here. Why?

So slowly but surely, I’m paring down. I won’t lie – it’s not easy. Those shirts I mentioned earlier, packed in a container in my closet? I took an hour the other day to pick out 20 of them for starters, photographed them and put them up on eBay. (They’re all hockey shirts, did I say?) I gave myself a week’s grace period to sell them. Not one sold. Now — they’re heading to the donation pile, along with most of the others in that bin. Why am I keeping these shirts? They aren’t bringing me pleasure or entertainment. They aren’t useful to me. So it’s time to move on.

The other thing I took away from that documentary is just how busy we all are, all the time. Even when we’re in transit or supposed to be having a nice dinner, we’ve got our noses buried in our cell phones! I’ve noticed this in the past, of course, but once someone points it out to you, it becomes even harder to ignore. We are always busy, we always have something else going on. It’s hard to just be present, in the present. But we should all make a better effort at this! (And for goodness sake’s, put your phone away at the table and ENJOY dinner with your eating companion!)

If you’re interested in catching the documentary, it’s available on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and the like. I’ve also got my eye on one of their books, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life.

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