Focus on Your Favorites (Minimalist Challenges Part 12)
A lot of people think they could never be interested in minimalism because they associate it with all-white rooms, ultra-modern furniture, and a lack of emotion. That's one type of minimalism – a mid-20th century design aesthetic – but it's not what I mean by the term.
Other people think that minimalism is only about your belongings. They get rid of clutter and tidy up what remains and think they are "minimalist." But minimalism goes far beyond what you own.
It's true that owning more than you need crowds and complicates everything you try to do. But a jam-packed schedule also increases your stress and keeps you from focusing on what you really care about. Debt can do the same. And trying to cope with all of that by shopping, drinking, or binging on food, TV, or the internet only makes the problem worse.
We keep buying and doing more and more thinking that satisfaction is just around the corner, not realizing that contentment is a mindset, not a purchase.
To me, minimalism means living with less clutter, busyness, debt, and stress so I have room for what really matters to me. I know that when I appreciate and enjoy the people, activities, and belongings that bring value to my life, I can happily minimize everything else.
Minimalism isn't radical. It's a way to optimize your time, space, energy, money, and attention. Minimalism has been a life-enhancing choice for me, and I hope you are finding it to be the same!
7. Stop complaining.
Complaining is more than just a bad habit – there's evidence that it actually damages our brains and impairs our immune systems. It also keeps us from looking for ways to solve problems. So make a list of the three things you complain about most often and consider these questions:
- Is there an action I can take right now to resolve this complaint?
- Am I complaining to the right person (someone who has the ability to help resolve this issue)?
- If I decide to let go and stop complaining about this, will I be happier?
Use your answers to decide how to move forward, and resolve to make the next 24 hours complaint-free.
8. Practice single-tasking.
Research shows that multi-tasking makes us feel rushed and stressed, uses more energy, and is less productive than doing one thing at a time. Let yourself focus and you'll stretch your attention span, access your creativity, and ultimately get more done.
Most of us add stuff to our homes over time: new furniture, new dishes, new linens, new photos on the gallery wall, new candles or plants, new tchotchkes received as gifts or bought on a whim at Hobby Lobby. Often we hang on to the old stuff because it's "still good" and we might need or want it "someday."
On the other hand, some of us think we've got a handle on things because we follow the "one in, one out" rule. When we buy something new, we replace something old or less loved, maintaining a sort of equilibrium. (Most of the time, anyway.) We rarely consider how wasteful this is, or that we're still trying (and failing) to find satisfaction with each new purchase.
Let's turn things around. Let's take steps to actually reduce what we have!
Choose your living room, bedroom, entryway, or any room whose cluttered appearance has frustrated you. Remove all of the decorative items on all of the surfaces – photos, candles, vases, ornaments, plants, throw pillows, etc. Remove everything from the walls – art, clocks, mirrors, photos, etc. If the room has a bookshelf or display unit, take the time to empty it as well. Box everything up and find a place to store it temporarily.
Your undecorated room isn't empty, because the furniture is still there. But the tables, sofas, dressers, etc. are bare. The floor is bare except for rugs. The mantel is bare. The walls are bare. It's the perfect time to do a thorough cleaning.
Now let the space breathe, undecorated, for 24 hours or up to a week. This allows your view of the room to reset and helps you to stop feeling that your usual décor "belongs" in certain places. Instead of looking at the room as empty or "weird," try to see it as spacious and peaceful.
After a time, bring back things that you really love, miss, and need. Don't be in a hurry, and don't fill a spot just because it's empty.
The magic is in the waiting. You might become accustomed to more open space. You might find it more useful and comfortable. You might even like it! After undecorating, you might decide to keep end tables bare except for a lamp or the dining table bare and ready for use. You might keep fewer throw pillows or knickknacks, or hang fewer pictures so that you can highlight the best.
Undecorating gives you a fresh start. It makes it easier to uncover your favorite things and declutter everything else.
Resilient: How Minimalism Helps You Cope With the Challenges of Life, and it's available now on Amazon.
All of us deal with different kinds of challenges all the time, not just during a pandemic, and we desperately need resilience – the ability to learn, adapt, and resourcefully deal with problems and setbacks.
The answer to lessening our physical and mental loads isn’t more square footage, a smart gadget, or a better organizing system. It’s found when we look closely at what takes up our space, time, and energy and offload all of the excess.
When we choose to simplify, something amazing happens. While before we could barely keep up, now we have the capacity for patience and flexibility. Minimalism can help us become resilient, and my book will show you how.