Minimalism: The Art of Change
In the first part of this series, I share what I let go as part of my minimalist journey. The greatest thing about Minimalism is it’s a journey. It’s doesn’t just stop one day. It constantly asks you to look at your life and assess what matters to you. Minimalism is and should also be different for every person. Our backgrounds, our values, our dreams and our goals are different, but the one constant is that time is short and we must use it wisely to fulfill our inner intentions.
As I began to let things and old habits go, I felt myself change. The things that were important to me in my early and mid-20’s changed. Now, in my early 30’s, the world looks a bit different and while there are times I wished I could go back time and educate my younger self, the point of life is to learn from mistakes, evolve and grow.
Because my values, my thoughts, my mindset changed, the world around me began to change as well as a way to support the new me.
Minimalism is about focusing on the things that matter that you. This also means people. Through the course of our lives, we encounter so many different kinds of people. Friends we’ve had since childhood. Friend’s out of necessity. Friends out of convenience. Friends out of colleagues. Friends who have left and come back.
We know that it’s perfectly acceptable to let go of old habits and the same is true for people. People come into our lives at different points. To help us, to support us, to test us, to wait for us, but not everyone needs to stay. Minimalism is also about letting go of people. If you think letting go of stuff is emotional, try letting go of people.
You are not a bad person for closing relationships. In fact, your well being could be suffering because of the relationships that you keep. Many of us are blind to the type of relationships that we have because we have not stepped back and taken a hard look at it. This is difficult, but each interaction you have with people should have value for yourself. I don’t mean to say that you should be selfish and that everyone should cater to your needs, but that when you interact with someone, especially people close to you, when you leave their presence, you should be fulfilled. Fulfilled here can mean so many things. Each time you spend time with someone else, stop and think about how they make you feel. It’s doesn’t have to be all hearts and smiley faces, but it should not be toxic and draining.
On the opposite, there are relationships that need to be cultivated and when you are spread too thin, this may seem like a chore. Relationships need time to grow. Relationships need your attention. Relationships require input. We all change as people. There is no one person in this world that experiences the same exact life. We need to accept that if I change so do other people in your life. If the relationship is no longer working out, take the courage to let them go. Thank them for the time they’ve spent with you, but let them go. Reclaim parts of your mind, body and soul that are being possessed by people who may not deserve you. What you’ve gained from letting go can then be poured to nurture more fulfilling relationships.
A few years ago, my parents went back to our homeland, the Philippines, to see my grandparents. When they came back, it was the first time I noticed that my parents were getting older. I’m not sure if it was the trip itself and perhaps them recognizing that their own parents could be gone soon, but seeing them with a little more gray hair, I felt it was my turn to take care of them. I was no longer a child that they had to take care of, but an adult who now had to make sure they were being taken care of. This changed how I interacted with them. I wanted to be more forthcoming of personal news, to make sure they were involved, to spend more time with them, to share my opinions, to ask them of theirs. It felt like a slight change, but one that was and is significant for me. Stuff stopped being important. Other relationships got re-prioritized. Time became essential.
Sometimes, you see yourself change so clearly and sometimes you see others keep making the same mistakes, the same drama over and over again. Change doesn’t happen overnight and change doesn’t happen to all of us at the same time. This is where we also have to recognize that it’s OK to let go of old relationships that have remained static. You can’t force people to change and you can’t also put your life on hold as you wait for people to change, otherwise, you could be waiting awhile. Life is short, people grow. It’s OK to want to surround yourself with people that will grow and support you. Don’t let other people drain your energy because there are other, more deserving people that value you. Turn towards them.
Minimalism is being conscious of the people around us. Minimalism is cultivating meaningful relationships. It’s important to be surrounded by people who are as good for your well being as you are for them.
If you told me that I would be touting minimalism, less stuff, more time, less waste a few years ago, you would have received a good laugh from my old self, but that’s just it. Minimalism is also about gaining new perspectives. Not every life is the same, but I’ve learned so much and continue to learn about what it means to be a minimalist now. It’s not just about stuff. It’s also about time, money, relationships and emotional well being. It’s finding a focus for yourself.
It’s so easy to get caught up in this rat race, in the keeping up with the Joneses, in the YOLO, in the FOMO of it all. You have to keep an open mind when ideas are introduced. Go into other circles, see what you can learn. I know we want to stick with our own tribe, our old patterns, but a new perspective could be your gateway to finding a lifestyle that is focused on the things that matter to you.
The biggest thing is that Minimalism is a change from the status quo, from the standards of an over-consuming society. You’ll find resistance, but you’ll also find support. It’s OK to change. It’s OK to have a new way of looking at the world. If you feel that letting go and changing who you are and what you value is important to you, then go for it. Don’t let the past define and dictate your future.
When I started, I used to read and re-read articles from theminimalists.com. I would take an idea here and there, implement it, skip it, fail at it and do my own version. The thing is minimalism is a journey and it’s personal to you. I belong to two groups on Facebook: The Minimalist Life and minimalism + motherhood and the common theme you’ll find across the posts, the questions, the answers is that it is your journey. There are no judgements, just support to help you find what’s important to you.
You will never find what you truly value if you are buried. Allow yourself to get some space, some breathing room. It’s OK if your perspectives change.
When you adopt a minimalism lifestyle, you do go against the grain of society. This is FINE! As long as you are doing this for yourself, for your well being, for your future, there is no fault or shame in that. Don’t be sorry for wanting more time, better relationships, more space.
Originally published at www.thedosomethingproject.com.