It is interesting what the universe makes known to us at certain periods, ideas that have always been there seem to enter our individual space at a precise time. Is it because we are searching, or does the universe know, that now is the time we are capable of utilising this knowledge, this new idea. What the universe threw at me was minimalism - a term I had never heard of before, but one that would become my catalyst for change.
A guy (Ryan) created a packing party. He packed up his entire apartment, clothes, furniture, toiletries, everything, like he was moving house, and then only unpacked the items, as he needed them. After 21 days, everything that was still in boxes he sold or donated, over 80% of his possessions – and he had never felt better.
It wasn’t that I was looking for a way to purge my belongings – I resonated with the premise that once we take material possessions out of the equation, we make room for what is really important – relationships, health, growth, contribution, community.
This was no new concept, but it was new and different to me. It felt like I had stumbled upon some gold nuggets and I wanted to mine as much as I could. I read through many of the essays on his website (with friend Joshua) theminimalists.com - reading their stories, listening to their audio books, and soaking up the lessons they had learnt. They introduced me to people like Colin Wright and Leo Babauta. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon was taking over and everywhere I turned I was discovering a new benefit of minimalism. There was this community of people, from all different backgrounds, which I related to.
I was bursting at the seams with all this new knowledge – and I knew too well that, knowledge without action is wasted. I needed to do something. A packing party seemed a little too extreme, and I wasn’t sure how my family would feel about living out of boxes, however a 30 Day minimalism game, I was up for that.
The rules of the game are quite basic – you find a friend and you each discard one item from your home on the first day, two on the second day, three on the third day and so forth for thirty days. The first two weeks are easy but it gets more challenging, as you get deeper into the month.
The 30 Day Minimalist Game was my first action and I wasn’t quite sure what I would learn, if anything. Could I even make it to 30 days, that is 465 items, do I even own 465 items, (930 items between Inga and I). Perhaps it would simply be a fun way to do a spring clean.
It was a spring clean, but not just of my home - of my mind. What I received was a complete change in mindset on how I viewed possessions – a new rejuvenated outlook on life.
As I was freeing my home of material possessions, that had once held some kind of importance to me, I found myself spending less money. When I considered purchasing a new item I would question if I really needed it - I wasn’t making room for new, I was making room for simplicity.
The act of doing something everyday with someone for a month tightens bonds. At first it was a novelty, and then Inga and I would discuss particular items, we’d be astonished that we had moved certain items from home to home and we still didn’t use them. Other items would guide us down memory lane, and some we were amazed that the other person was actually letting go of – it was in this moment that change was really taking place.
It was like a snowball rolling down a mountain, as the days went on and we collected more items to throw away, momentum kept building. It was such an achievement reaching the 30 days, but we also excitingly knew this was just the beginning. A month later we went through our home again and decluttered more, now it feels like it is just habit.
I learnt so much from this monthly challenge. It was the first action I took and one that has completely changed my family, how we think about possessions, what we value – it made room for what is really important.
Purging items cleared the clutter out of our cupboards but more importantly, the clutter out of our minds. By reframing our mindset on how we view material possessions we are able to grapple larger decisions - deciding to live in another country for a year wasn’t a daunting decision. Previously we would not have been able to comprehend the idea of packing up our home and shipping off - our possessions were no longer anchoring us to a particular location, no longer an excuse, no longer stopping us from living immediately.