Focus on What You Love: a Beginners Guide to Minimalism

By Philip

Do you want to know what I got Melissa for Valentine’s Day this year? A big, fat nothing. Do you think she’s going to be so mad or that I’m going to be “in trouble?” NOPE. With it being Valentine’s day I thought it would be a good time to talk about spending time on things you love. Melissa and I have never been into Valentine’s day. That’s a hard thing for people to understand. The first comment I get is usually “she cares, she just doesn’t want you to know how much she cares about it.” But that’s what I want to talk about today, the point of this post is to talk about how people value different things, and if something doesn’t bring value to your life you can just get rid of it or stop doing it. Melissa and I have always had a tradition of going to Chipotle on Valentine’s day because we don’t value all of the flowers, candy, and expensive cards. (On a quick side note, at work the other day I sold a card to someone that cost $8.99! That’s absurd!) We love Chipotle so that’s always been our simple thing we do together on that day. We do also like to give each other a card of some sort, because we like loving things written about us,  it just doesn’t have to cost NINE DOLLARS! (And on another side note, Melissa did tell me after she had Maren that she wants a gift every year on Mother’s Day. She says she earned that holiday and she wants a present for it. So it’s not like we never do gifts, we just decide which ones matter most to us.)

My gorgeous wife that doesn’t ask for anything on Valentine’s. I hit the jackpot.

Over the last year I’ve read and listened to a lot of things about living life more intentionally. One topic I’ve come to love that I feel like goes hand in hand with saving money and living your best life is Minimalism. I think minimalism has a bad reputation. Most people think in order to be a minimalist you have to get rid of all your stuff, ride a bike everywhere, and pretty much live like a poor college kid. (Though that’s not a bad idea in general if you are trying to pay off debt.) In reality, minimalism isn’t about restricting yourself. Minimalism is about freeing yourself. Free yourself from excess, free yourself from the unimportant. One listener of the podcast I listen to  described minimalism perfectly when she said “Minimalism is making more room in your life for the things that matter”. What you have to keep in mind is that what matters is different for everyone. Minimalism is very personalized. So if you decide getting rid of your material possessions is important to you, then minimalism can help you with that. That doesn’t mean that owning many things is inherently bad, as long as they aren’t affecting your life in a negative way. Minimalism isn’t a set of rules you have to live by, it’s  a mindset. Minimalism helps you be more intentional with your time, space, money, and relationships. 

What can minimalism do for you?

 This is what minimalism has helped me with:

-Staying more organized

-Focusing on relationships

-Spending time on things I’m passionate about

-Consuming less

-Assigning less meaning to things

-Focusing on experiences

-Living with less clutter

This isn’t everything but it’s what comes to mind. If any of this stuff sounds valuable to you, maybe certain aspects of minimalism are for you. 

Where to begin

So how does one become a minimalist? Well go get a garbage bag…just kidding. The first thing you need to do is establish your priorities. Minimalism is about assessing what is important in your life so you can rid yourself of the excess. Your excess could be physical things, it could also be activities or relationships that don’t bring you happiness or value. Once you take the time to evaluate what’s important to you then you might realize you do have a bunch of stuff you don’t need or your activities you thought you needed were spreading you too thin. Minimalism has helped me find more happiness through experiences and relationships without relying on things. Everyone can use a little more happiness in their lives right? Maybe a little less stuff or a few less obligations can help with that?

We will continue to discuss specific aspects of minimalism that we do in the future, but for now let us know your thoughts on minimalism and if you are already on board, share your experiences. If you need me, I’m going to go eat a burrito with my hot wife.

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