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14
JUN
2016

A Minimalist Simple Life?

Would you like to have a minimalist, simple life?

Having a minimalist lifestyle has been popular for a few years now. Ok, it’s true that I am highly unlikely to be able to move all my possessions by bicycle or even in my car! However, the phrase ‘Less is More’ is true.  De-cluttering and creating space in your home and office can help your mind become calmer and more spacious.

cartoon. buddhist moving company

Slowly and surely I am letting go of things that I haven’t used or worn for 2 or 3 years, except there is rather a large list of exceptions. This includes furniture, paintings and favorite clothes, bags, books and shoes etc. It’s so strange that as soon as I either give things away or throw them away, within a week I really need them again. How is that possible? Something I didn’t need or forgot about for a few years and when it’s gone, I really need it!

So why is having a more minimalist lifestyle a good idea? Firstly we need to understand why we love living in clutter.  No, its not a psychological problem unless you are a compulsive hoarder. However, it’s useful to work out what your possessions give you? In Process Oriented Psychology and therapy we believe that unless we process both sides, in this case, the part that wants to hang onto things and the part that wants to let go, we will just swing between the two and not much will change.

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So possibly our possessions give us a sense of familiarity and security. We look at a dress or suit and remember the party we went to and met our partner. Or we think, ‘I will need that one day so I’ll just hang onto it.’ It can also feel too hard to decide what we want to keep and we’re too busy to clear out anyway.

“You don’t need more space. You need less stuff.”

It’s helpful to find out what is motivating you to de-clutter. It always takes me time to find what I am looking for, even though I think I’m quite an organised person. I have realised that I am dreaming that I am organised.  I am actually not that organised and I don’t live a minimalist simple life, despite knowing from Buddhism that a spacious environment creates a calm atmosphere and peaceful mind. However I don’t live in a mess but I do have too much. This is what we call in Process Oriented Psychology, ‘jumping backwards and forwards over an edge.’ The edge is the obstacle that stops us from making the change we want to make. The discussion is around why we can or can’t take the next step in the direction we want to go.

Part of the difficulty is changing our habitual patterns. Am I the only one when I’m busy who thinks, ‘oh, I’ll just shove that all in the wardrobe and sort it out later?’ Then later arrives and it’s a mess so I gently close the cupboard door again. So if you feel anxious and overwhelmed even at the thought of having less, start slowly and gently.

I also like alot of my possessions and have collected them over many years from different countries round the world. This is the part that doesn’t want to engage in the clear out and has lots of valid reasons and excuses.  “I’ll just put that table in the garage because it has sides that flip out and down and I may need it one day. Or when I lose weight, I’ll be able to wear my favorite trousers and I’ll keep that 8 year old Dell computer just in case!

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The Key to your new Minimalist Life.

  1. Start with small steps. Pick one thing that you don’t value much and give it away or throw it out.
  2. Alternatively you can sell a few things on E Bay and make some money.
  3. Start with 5 minutes a day beginning to sort things out. Decide, do I want to keep that, or I’m not sure or I’m donating it. Act on your decision.
  4. Think that want you have, could really benefit someone else and do you really need it? Those things you rarely use will be used by friends who will appreciate your generosity or if donated, by someone who really needs it.
  5. Junk rubbish in life and on your phone and computer.
  6.  You could give 1 thing away every day but if that feels challenging, at least tidy it up, recycle and keep your cupboards and space fairly clear.
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Having lots of stuff doesn’t make you happier or reduce your desire to have more. In fact having too much complicates your life and your time.  You don’t have to let go of everything. Keep what you love, what you use regularly and what is precious to you. Wanting more is endemic in our society. It is a so-called sign of success and bigger is better. However, research has shown that having more won’t make you happier once you have reached a certain level of material comfort.

 “You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” V. Howard

So, if you keep life simple, your life will be more simple. Less stuff, less cleaning! less mess, less worries, less problems, less anxiety.

“Less stuff, more life.”

 

 

About the Author
Sherry (BSc. Sociology; MAA. Social Work, AMHSW; Masters Science Soc. Ecology; Diplomate, Process Psychology) is a faculty Director of ANZPOP.

She has offered expert psychological counselling in Australia and overseas since 1989. Sherry is currently based in both the Sydney CBD and on the Northern Beaches near Manly. She also offers national and international phone and Skype appointments.

If you would like more information or wish to reference something you have read on this website please contact Sherry.

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