Introducing minimalism: Why I’m reducing my wardrobe

A couple of weeks back, I got rid of about 1/3 of the items in my wardrobe, and gave them to a charity. Many of these items I hadn’t worn for a long time (though they used to be ‘favourites’), others were spur-of-the-moment buys from the last few years, which I’d only ever worn a couple of times. Why did I do this?

I’m deciding to give ‘minimalism’ a go. I first came across this via Josh Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who were previously corporate careerists, both leaving their jobs aged 30. They now write about living a meaningful life with less stuff at, which has 4 million readers. Their TEDx Talk “A rich life with less stuff” can be viewed here.

As I explored minimalism further, reading Josh & Ryan’s blog, Leo Babauta’s blog, and contributions from the wider minimalism community, I thought I’d give this a go.

Minimalism seemed to make a lot of sense to me. Here’s why:

1. I have a LOT of stuff — and a lot which I don’t use
What a waste. So why keep it? The self-storage industry is apparently a $150billion+ industry; people paying for external storage because they can’t physically fit these excess possessions in their homes. This is beyond ridiculous and must stop.

2. ‘Tidy environment, tidy mind’
That old saying. Whether it’s your office desk, your bedroom shelves, your bedroom as a whole, your entire house, the same thing applies. I can be an incredibly messy person (just ask my mother), but I always feel better when my surroundings are less cluttered, with more space and tidiness. Physical freedom from clutter leads to a freer, more spacious mind.

3. The paradox of choice
Aside from the stress of clutter, having more stuff also causes us more headache in another way. More clothes in my wardrobe meant to more choice which, paradoxically, was more frustrating and stressful — leading to indecision as to what I might wear on any given day. Sounds silly, I know.

But experts are increasingly showing us that, with greater abundance and choice, we are actually now worse off. The two TED Talks below highlight and explore this.

Barry Schwartz’s TED Talk: ‘The paradox of choice” — view here (TED) or here(YouTube)
Dan Gilbert’s TED Talk: “The surprising science of happiness” — view here (TED) or here (YouTube)

In conclusion: Less stuff = less choice = greater contentment.

4. (Positive psychology) Studies are showing us that we’re better off spending our money on experiences rather than things
More on that here.

5. You can give your stuff away…
…to a charity shop/hospice/homeless shelter. So not only are you doing yourself good, but you are ‘giving back’ and helping others in need. Thus simultaneously increasing happiness and reducing misery — both for yourself and for others — just as Richard Layard recommends.

Professor Layard is one of the 3 Founders of ‘Action For Happiness’, and ‘Giving’ just happens to be one of the ’10 Keys to Happier Living’, so a thumbs-up there too. (Another ‘key’ is ‘Community’, which you are also contributing to by giving some of your things away to others).

Read more about the ’10 Keys’ here.

Furthermore, minimalism has also helped reinforce the idea that you really don’t need hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars to live, let alone to live well. In fact, you most likely need far less income than you think.

I’m struggling to really find any downsides (aside from not having 20 pairs of Nike trainers with a different coloured ‘tick’ to match what I’m wearing that day. You see my point…).

Crucially: “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.” — Joshua & Ryan,

Next steps for me:

  • Going one step further and creating a ‘capsule wardrobe’
  • Reducing/de-cluttering the remainder of my bedroom
  • Getting to work on the rest of the house, one room at a time

I’ll let you know how I get on.

PS. You may have noticed that, in my posts, I reference various authors, experts, organisations, books, TED talks, etcetera.

[For example, in this post alone, I’ve referenced Josh Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (‘The Minimalists’ blog), Leo Babauta (‘Zen Habits’ blog), Barry Schwartz, Dan Gilbert, Richard Layard, Action For Happiness, and Chris Reining (‘Mr Everyday Dollar’ blog)]