Why simplicity?

by Frank Martin

Marie Kondo’s “the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up” is topping sales charts, Decluttering and minimalism are increasingly popular subjects in the social network and blogs. Its clear that, at least for a certain percentage of people, consumerism is losing its luster. When you get right down to it, though, decluttering is all well and good, there’s plenty it can do to increase our quality of life, but if there’s no reason behind it, it is entirely possible, maybe even likely to backslide and start building up a stockpile of stuff again.

So the question becomes, why are you doing it, beyond its current trendiness? Knowing the why will change the entire process because the why will tell you what to focus on, what to emphasize, and maybe even how to know when you’re there. For example:

Books: As a yoga teacher and practitioner, books are incredibly important to me. I’ve got a Kindle, but many of the books I study aren’t Kindle friendly for one reason or another, and I’m not sure I want them to be. This means that, for me, even though I don’t plan to accrue a house consuming physical library, its perfectly fine to own plenty of physical books. For someone who reads mostly novels or wants to travel a lot and is more interested in minimalism as a way to spend time with family, buying a Kindle, Nook, or similar device and selling off their physical library could be entirely appropriate and freeing.

Time/Schedule: Knowing your why also helps simplify and clarify how to spend time and what to keep on your schedule. Want to spend more time with friends/family? Make sure there’s time in your schedule every day/week for it and give that time priority over other commitments. If something comes up that would conflict, say thanks but no thanks. In a culture so focused on work and physical/monetary accumulation, this can mean some pretty major countercultural activity as it could potentially mean choosing family over work.

Clothes: While I highly recommend everyone interested in minimalism take on the Project 333 Challenge, or put together a capsule wardrobe, that collection of clothing will look very different for someone who works in construction, a CEO, and a yoga teacher, and it should. Someone working a physically demanding outdoor job has very different expectations and requirements of their clothing than someone working a retail or office gig. The latter might need dress clothes in abundance while the former could probably get along just fine with a pair of dark wash jeans, khakis, sportcoat, a couple dress shirts and a gray suit.

Just something to ponder. So, what’s your why, and how does it shape how you go about decluttering/simplifying/minimalizing?