Skip to content

How Minimalism Changed My Life


To support my work please buy a
book or make a donation today. Thank you.


My futon by day

I am a minimalist. I don’t know how many things I own exactly, only that almost daily the number seems to become less and less.

The other day my neighbor commented that all I owned was a “giant fish tank.” He looked at me in amazement when I laughed in delight.

The picture above is a shot of my living room. Within you see the aquarium, my rocking chair, the coffee table that has been in my life since I was a baby and my bed.

That’s my futon, pillows, blanket and sheets all folded up neatly beneath the aquarium, for thanks to minimalism we can rent a 1 bedroom house and I am perfectly content to sleep on the living room floor.

Before I became a minimalist I was the typical consumer. I have loved computers from childhood so there were always several scattered throughout the house. I had huge appliances that weren’t used to near their full potential, mountains of clothes hiding the ones that I actually wore, piles of knicknacks, boxes of books and yet still I did not feel I had enough.

I was going to include a “before” picture here but after searching for several minutes I remembered something: I rarely took any photographs back then because I was so embarrassed at all of my crap! So one huge benefit of minimalism is that I am no longer embarrassed of my house or the amount of stuff that I own.

Another benefit is that my house is always neat (even when it is messy) so I am never embarrassed to allow someone entry into my home. Years ago there were many occasions when guests were not allowed to see past my front door out of embarrassment! No longer do I face the horror of an unexpected guest, for my house is never an embarrassment to me.

By reducing the number of possessions I have freed countless hours that I normally spent cleaning and rearranging my crap. It is but the work of a few minutes to wash dishes and clean our 500 square foot cottage now, where in the past I could work for days and never become close to getting our home really clean!

I love the fact that I have nothing to trip over now. All of my possessions are placed where they are easily accessible yet out of the way so I can wander through the house without tripping, stumbling, or stepping on things! My daughter’s room gets a bit messy at times but that is because I am leading her by my example instead of demanding that she reduce her personal stuff. She has gotten MUCH better over the years, for now she purges her stuff on occasion when she gets tired of looking at it instead of Mom having to harp on her to clean her room!

I can walk through a store without that burning desire to buy things. I must confess that the first time I walked into a store and could think of nothing to purchase it was a bit frightening but now it is commonplace. About the only things I consume now on a regular basis (besides food) are pet supplies.

I don’t even buy paper and pens anymore thanks to this tablet PC!

Minimalism has allowed me to put possessions in their proper place. Earlier this year it allowed me to have enough distance from my stuff to realize that it would cost more than it was worth to rent a truck and move it when I decided to relocate—and then that same distance allowed me to give my stuff (and my entire home) to a homeless woman instead of selling it and collecting the money.

I could never have even considered doing something like that before I became a minimalist for I was rather attached to every single thing that I owned. Thanks to minimalism, a woman and young child now have a home and I am richer for the experience.

It seems as if the more I reduce the amount of stuff I own, the more ideas pop into my head. Minimalism has had the incredible effect of putting my muse into overdrive! Instead of sitting and trying to come up with ideas and storylines they seem to constantly pop up unbidden; some days it is all I can do to keep up with the flow of creativity! Several of my books have been hashed out in a single marathon session as my muse sat upon my shoulder like a drill sergeant until I managed to free the words from the ether! As a result I have been incredibly productive as far as my writing is concerned and I have several projects in the works even today.

I have more energy now that my stuff has decreased. Instead of looking at the dirty dishes I just hop up and wash them; instead of griping over that pile of clothes—umm, I no longer have any piles of clothes….

Well, if I did have a pile of clothes I would have the energy to pick them up. I used to sit and stare at the messes in my house but lack the energy to correct the issues. Now I have no messes and lots of energy that I use to create or just putter.

I have a lot more space now. I no longer have the desire to collect things or keep things “just in case.” If something doesn’t get used it gets eliminated. If I have no need for a larger version of something (like a full-size refrigerator or cookstove) I locate a smaller version that takes up less space but performs the functions that we need. For instance, instead of a cookstove, full-size refrigerator, washer and dryer I have an undercounter fridge, microwave, toaster oven, hot plate and small chest freezer. These items are more functional than the traditional items they replaced and they allow me to better utilize the space that I have available. Instead of purchasing a washer and dryer I take advantage of the HE washers and dryers available at the laundromat. Using those items costs a LOT less than purchasing their equivalents and I don’t have them in my way when they aren’t needed!

I have no need for a second bedroom because I do not own a traditional bed. Katie likes having a little bed to make up and so she has one in her room but for me I am content with my futon placed upon the living room floor. I see no need to have a room for myself that only gets used when I sleep. Katie gets a room to herself because she uses it almost full-time—like a typical preteen. This saves us money in rent, utilities—and furniture.

We gave our television away over 2 years ago because it sat unused for a while before that; my ancient component stereo system with the gigantic speakers met Mr. Dumpster along with a mountain of books and collectibles. I no longer need to have things just to keep up appearances; I can just be myself and get rid of the crap that I don’t use—even if everyone else around me feels the need to have junk like that!

I have more money for the things that I love thanks to Minimalism. Back in my consumer days I had to watch every penny but now I always have more than enough. Even when I was spending a small fortune driving back and forth from Western KY to fight for Katie I always had what I needed and a surplus. I generally use the surplus to spoil Katie or to upgrade things in our life that we use.

I can even afford the luxury of this “giant fish tank” dominating my living room—simply because I love it!

If we want to go out and eat (which, for some reason, we don’t have the desire to do near as often) we just pick a restaurant and go. No trying to figure out what we have to sacrifice for the pleasure anymore!

I assume it is because I don’t have the clutter surrounding me anymore, but the farther I travel down the Minimalist path the less stress I feel. I can plop down in front of the aquarium, take a deep breath and chill out while I watch the fishies cavort. I don’t feel guilty because I should get up and clean the house, for my house is always clean.

Thanks to Minimalism, travel is a pleasure. When I want to pack up and spend the night somewhere it is easy to grab my laptop and a change of clothes. I do not have to agonize over what to take and what to leave, or stress because I forgot something important. Almost all of my books and papers are stored either in this laptop or on the cloud and my clothing and cosmetics are simplified enough that it is a simple matter to grab the bag they are stored in and just go!

Years ago my home was broken into while I was out of town. I sat on the floor and cried at the loss of my computers, mountains of software and countless other items. Now, thanks to Minimalism, I have nothing to steal. My laptop goes with me everywhere I do; my few pieces of jewelry are never removed. My neighbors think I’m either desperately poor or slightly crazy—and that is how I like it.

I have less drama in my life thanks to Minimalism. How so? I purged the Drama Queens and Negative Nellies from my life. I have less physical friends now but a LOT more peace and tranquility in my life.

Minimalism has taught me that it is not deprivation to eliminate things from your life. It is liberating in the extreme. I only keep what gets used or actively gives me pleasure; eliminating the rest gives me more time to enjoy the important stuff.

When my futon is out

Minimalism has completely changed my life for the better. I have less things but what I do have is more beautiful and functional than anything I could have afforded when I was a consumer.

How has minimalism changed YOUR life?



Like this post? Sign up here to receive updates by email.
--------

4 Comments

  1. TJ wrote:

    My husband and I have just purchased a ten year old fifth wheel camper and are in the process of moving into it. We hope to retire in three years and travel. We have sold everything in our home, (what didn’t sell has been donated to Good Will). We are only taking our personal and kitchen items (dishes, pots & pans, small appliances) with us. EVERYONE we know, thinks we are crazy! We had SO MUCH STUFF…and the time it took to get rid of it was unreal! We shredded papers that we had collected over the years – for a solid day! We rented a safe deposit box for the important papers we needed to keep. Otherwise it was shredded. We already feel more free with all the clutter gone. We still have more clothes and shoes than we need, but in time, we will scale those down also. We have decided to enjoy LIFE, not STUFF! Call us crazy! :)

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  2. Kathy Austin wrote:

    What a beautiful cottage and post. Thanks for sharing

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  3. Annie wrote:

    That is wonderful T J! It sounds like you had one heck of a job! l would love to see pictures of your fifth wheel-they are gorgeous!

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  4. Jane wrote:

    Great Post!!! I lived for two years in a 32 year old 35′ fifth wheel, which was set down permanent, & hooked up to regular utilities. I really, really liked it. The one drawback was that if more than 2 or 3 people were visiting, there really wasn’t room. & I have a lot of family, so it just wasn’t practical for me. Fortunately I’ve not replaced everything I gave away when I moved into the 5th wheel!

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
Web Hosting