This is the 15th post in my 30 for 30/30 series where I am publishing a new post each day for the next 30 days within a 30-minute window without much of a plan. You can read about why I’m doing this by clicking this link.
Minimalism Doesn’t Protect You from Discontent
If you follow blogs written by minimalists or subscribe to YouTube channels created by those espousing the benefits of chasing a meaningful life, it’s easy to come away with the false impression that they are happy all the time.
It’s a common misconception. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who’s happy 24/7.
Just as it’s true that all minimalists aren’t white, male, devilishly-handsome, debt-free creatives, neither are all of them leading challenge-free lives.
Hey, life is messy
Years ago, when I was working in education, an instructor who worked for me who had significant training in a life skills training group. I remember him saying, in a response to some students who were complaining about their challenges that …
“Life keeps on life-ing, so get used to it.”
He meant that regardless of our circumstances or station in life, whether rich or poor, hungry or satiated, employed or unemployed, there will always be challenges.
No one is immune from the occasional reality check of discontent.
It’s to be expected
In fact, when first transitioning to living as a minimalist, it seems like discontentment can come in waves, not unlike the morning after enjoying seven margaritas the night before.
It’s to be expected.
Anytime we embark on a course of change, a period of discontent soon follows. We miss our former routine and, in the case of a new minimalist existence, we miss our stuff. We wonder if we’re doing the right thing. We compare ourselves to the more famous minimalists and we aren’t impressed with the result.
Yes, life can certainly get very messy very quickly.
A brief guide for new minimalists struggling to find their way through
In my experience, getting rid of your extraneous possessions can be a very liberating experience. It’s often followed by periods of doubt but ultimately gives way to an overarching sense of freedom and peace of mind.
Navigating through each phase is the tough part. Toward that end, what follows is a brief set of guidelines aimed at helping you find your way through to the other side when doubts arise after you’ve downsized your belongings.
- Breathe. It will be OK. Anxiety is a knee-jerk reaction to your newfound minimalist existence. It’s natural to miss your usual surroundings; if it wasn’t, you’d have done this long ago.
- Practice some gratitude. Look at what belongings you still have and realize that these items mean more to you than those you no longer have.
- Appreciate the new space. View the additional space in your home or room as a sign that you’re now more open to what comes next. Appreciate the strength that it took to create that space.
- Journal your feelings. There is something healing and cathartic about writing about the raw feelings you experience. For me, it’s often the first step toward healing. If you don’t have a journal, pick one up (I recommend the LEUCHTTURM1917 hardbound with dotted pages).
- Buddy up. Find a fellow minimalist to talk with either in person or online. Develop a mutual support system by trading stories and experiences. Like most endeavors in life, minimalist living is more enjoyable when you associate with like-minded individuals.
- Help someone else. As you exercise your minimalist muscles, others may seek you out as an expert. When that happens, give them the benefit of your experience by writing about it, YouTube-ing (yeah, I just made up this rare verb) about it, or in whatever format you feel most comfortable.
Extending ourselves toward others, even if they seem not to be paying attention, is an act of kindness.