How Much Minimalism is Too Much?

Do you think of Minimalism as too extreme? Perhaps you envision rooms with very little in them, just as you imagine haute cuisine as a single vegetable artfully arranged on a large dinner plate.

Perhaps it feels severe, modernist, like a white sofa in a white room, a single item on the coffee table if, in fact, there is a coffee table. Maybe we match our rooms, with our severe, blunt haircut, the white turtleneck with crisply pleated white trousers and shiny black loafers. If we have a pet, it certainly won’t be one that sheds. If there are kids, they’d own one toy.

We hear of people packing up everything they own, then pulling out what they need when they need it. Then, after a set period of time, whatever remains in the boxes is offloaded. I personally find this to be a ludicrous exercise. I’m not going to offload my Christmas ornaments or bread machine because I didn’t use them from March through May. I like my stuff too much. And I don’t use artwork. I enjoy artwork.

I’m also not going to live out of boxes for three months. My home is my sanctuary. It’s my vacation home from the world. Being surrounded by boxes for three months would stress me out more than it would make me feel free.

Freedom is touted as the reward for a minimalist lifestyle. Therefore, I believe an important first step is to dance with the concept of freedom:

What does freedom mean to you?
Freedom from what?
Freedom to do what?

If it’s about less stuff, more life, then what does “more life” look like? Is it for a hobby? Travel? Money? Which end of the spectrum are we shooting for: living out of a backpack, or simply calming our spaces so that our spirit can be free from an overloading amount of visual stimuli?

As I personally danced with freedom, I learned something about my stuff: if someone asked me where something was located in my house, I knew exactly where it was. I realized, Not only am I managing it physically, I’m managing it mentally. I’m managing everything I own TWICE.

I think of Minimalism as a quest to discover our personal “sweet spot” between stuff and freedom. The amount of stuff we own affects the amount of freedom we have. If we want more freedom, we must have less stuff to manage, or get paid help to manage the stuff for us.

My freedom,” turns out, was freedom from managing. I needed to simplify.

  • I wanted to spend less time dusting, so I edited my surface displays.
  • I grew weary of filing and managing all the saved articles and papers, so I purged 90% of it.
  • I didn’t need or use every random dish, glass or mug I owned, so I chose my favorites and offloaded the rest.
  • I decided life was too short to use thin and frayed bath towels, so I added to the rag bin, then chose my favorite rags and reduced that pile as well!
  • I ran out of shelf space for my books, so I donated the already-read-and-won’t-read-again books, leaving me with a bookcase that inspires joyful anticipation.
  • I owned business clothes I’d stopped wearing, and items that didn’t make me feel good when I put them on, so I filled bags for donating.

I kept the best and my favorites of every category, then purged the rest.  

It felt good. No, it felt amazing! Somewhere in there I lost five pounds. My inner life reflecting my outer life. It’s similar to eating a healthy meal after working out. It’s a natural, gradual progression that we don’t know exists until we take that first step.

I looked around at my home and realized, “I’m done. I don’t need anything more.” I began to see my footprint more realistically. I’d think, Do I really need to buy this thing that will eventually go to a stranger or a landfill? After all, I’m not going to be buried in a pyramid!

As I work with sellers in their late 20s and early 30s, I notice many have already made the decision to live with less. I note these are children of the first generation of bulk-item shoppers. Their parents had more than enough in their overflowing pantries, with multiples of everything, and their “kids” are over it. They are consciously choosing to live with less.

I also work with the parents, now empty nesters, managing three levels of stuff, who are also over it.

Where will this trend lead? Maybe it will lead us to own less crap and more quality; more tenderness towards our environment; more cash to finance the life we truly want; more time to devote to realizing long-held dreams. Maybe it’s as simple as creating the freedom to enjoy the life we’ve worked so hard to build. 

If any of this struck a chord in your spirit, give me a call for help mapping out your freer life with less stuff. I’m not an organizer, I’m a freedom fighter!

You might also like my FREE Download: What Your 80-Year-Old-Self Wants You to Know

Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Gentry Black, Home Staging by Cynthia, LLC in Kansas City.
All rights reserved. No portion may be shared, reused or republished in any format without express written consent of the author.

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