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13 Years Minimalism, 13 Lessons I've Learned - Minimalist Living

I've been a minimalist for 13 years, and during those 13 years, so much has changed.

I've raised three kids, I sold my house, and we bought an RV and traveled the USA. I traveled with my husband and daughter nomadically throughout the world with only a backpack. I've changed careers a few times, and my hair is becoming more and more silver with each passing year.

The one thing that has remained the same is that I'm still a minimalist. I'm sharing 13 lessons I've learned about myself, the world, and minimalism.

  1. Minimalism made me consider my values and what was valuable to me.

It changed the way I view my world. My idea of what success meant had changed. My beliefs had shifted. Minimalism gave me lightness. I found freedom in letting go of the opinion that I need material things to justify my worth. I'm worth more than the stuff I own.

2. There is NO ONE way to be a minimalist. Every person is different with different needs and lifestyles. Minimalism has been fantastic for my family and me. However, minimalism has changed throughout the 13 years depending on how many kids were living at home, traveling, or staying put for a while. Life is constantly evolving, and our minimalism changed with it. Minimalism will always ebb and flow with your life.

3. Minimalism helped strengthen my marriage. My husband began an open dialog about where we were spending our money, and those things were bringing us joy. We each listened to the other's opinions and found a middle ground when we disagreed as we became more clear on why and what we were purchasing, we started making decisions in tandem. For the first time, we were a united team with common goals, values, lifestyles, and dreams.

4. Minimalism is NOT for everyone. There have been times in my life when I was focused on money, big houses, brand new cars, and wearing the latest trends. Many people are not mindful consumers, they enjoy shopping, or love their new cars, and big houses.

That's OK!

We are all individuals and are allowed to take our paths. We should feel like our approach is better than anyone else. Or force our minimalist views on others.

5. I'm not envious of what other people have. I spent a lot of my energy and thoughts wrapped up in what other people had and felt inferior if I didn't have it. I've realized that what others choose to have is their business, not mine. I can appreciate a beautiful home or a diamond necklace without feeling jealous or wanting to have it myself.

6. My self-worth is not defined by what I own. I began minimalism in 2008 during the great recession, when we had to sell as much as we could to pay our mortgage and utilities. I cried for weeks and months during our family liquidation. Every time someone walked away with one of my "Precious" items, I felt like my self-worth was being diminished. I had no idea how much my identity was wrapped up in material items. Minimalism has taught me that my value, self-esteem, and worth have absolutely nothing to do with the kind of car I drive, the house I live in, or how many shoes I own.

7. Attachment to stuff makes us uptight.

I remember we were cleaning out our garage, and my husband accidentally threw away copper wall scones that I loved. I was so mad! I threw a complete fit and was furious at him for months, OK, maybe years. When my daughter was young, she drew a heart on the leather couch with a black sharpie. I lost it. She went to time-out. What mom hasn't come into the kitchen to find fingernail polish or paint spilled on the dining room table? My attachment to stuff made me an up-tight jurk. I was putting more value in the items than in my relationships with the people I loved.

8. "Someday syndrome," I used to keep everything, "just in case" I needed it someday, like the owner's manual, black tie dress, the skinny pants two sizes smaller than I am. Extra earbud sizes. Or I thought I would use it someday, like the resistance bands, the crockpot, the sushi making kit, the harmonica, the book everyone should read. I was utterly frozen in the someday syndrome from making decisions and letting things go. It was just a way to procrastinate doing anything at all with my stuff. I had to get honest with myself and ask, "why am I hanging on to this? What is the worst thing that will happen if I get rid of it? Do I intend or anticipate using this?

9. Minimalism simplifies my life. Minimalism has trickled into all aspects of my life. Over the last years, mindful consumerism has grown into conscious living. Living mindfully simplifies my life. I don't put as much thought and energy into what to buy. I live with a few simple things. I find more pleasure in simple joys, like being in nature, knitting a blanket, and baking bread. I live in awareness and unison of my values, simplifies every choice I make, making me feel at peace and less stressed.

10. We don't always need the newest updated thing. We are constantly bombarded with marketing that tells us we need the last version of the technology. The most recent high-tech appliance. A newer car with added features. It's easy to feel enticed to upgrade continually. But are those few extra buttons and brighter colors really going to add value to our life? I have learned to use my phone, appliances, and cars until they no longer work. That is when I choose to upgrade.

11. I have more time. I spend less time cleaning, fixing, and maintaining things. The less I own, the less time I spend cleaning maintaining them. Time is precious to me. When I owned a larger home filled with many things, I spent much of my time cleaning, organizing, and maintaining it. We hold so much less now that cleaning is quick. It's lovely to get that time back.

12. I save a lot of money as a minimalist. I'm always surprised at how much money I keep as a minimalist because I don't spend money purchasing things. I also don't have to pay anyone to maintain, clean, repair, store, or move many possessions. It's not only the big-ticket items that save money, but all of the little things that add up, like clothes, household decor, the latest kitchen gadgets, or impulse buy.

13. Minimalism is a fluid practice, it is never stagnating. I've lived in a big house, a townhouse, an RV, and even no house when we traveled abroad. Since becoming a minimalist, I've gone from 3 little kids to being almost an empty nester.

My life has changed, and the things in my life must reflect that change as well. Minimalism will ebb and flow as life does. By Accepting and welcoming these ever-changing events in our lives, we can adapt our minimalist lifestyle happily.

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