The true essence of minimalism

10:51 AM

When you think of minimalism, what is the first things that come to you mind?

All white decor? No decorative items? Only 2 pots 4 plates, 4 glasses and 1 tea mug in the kitchen? Making do with only 10 pieces of clothing? Living like a monk that made a vow of poverty? Downgrading to a tiny house and forced to throw away 90% of your belongings?

What if I told you that minimalism is actually none of those things (unless these things work for you).
Minimalism has been this big fat trend for years and it keeps coming in one avatar or another : Scandinavian minimalism, urban minimalism, country minimalism, boho minimalism, monochrome minimalism, colorful minimalism, zen minimalism...

We had all the lifestyle and house organising experts telling us to get rid of all the stuff we don't need, downgrade and live a happy less material life.
They aren't wrong, but the message leave a lot to interpretation, and if you think burning half of your underwear drawer because it doesn't bring you joy is the solution to all your woes, you couldn't BE anymore wrong (Insert Chanlder's voice from Friends).

That's because minimalism is not in what you see, or how color coordinated your home is, it's a lifestyle, and one that is very flexible at that.
It also isn't about throwing things away in hope of gaining happiness, because happiness is in internal state of mind.
If you haven't worked on your unhappiness state, the only thing you will achieve throwing away everything is going from a unhappy soul with a lot of things, to an unhappy soul with a near empty home.

Work on your happiness first

Seriously, the first step of going minimalist is to know what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy. What brings you joy, and what stressed the crap out of you. What you love doing and what you hate doing to the point that getting a root canal would be far more pleasurable than the thing you hate. 

Write it down, make a list, or a good old love / hate column list. Pour your heart out, let it all spill on paper, honestly and without filter. 
Once you are done, look at how you can minimise the things you hate, and maximise the things you love. 


Because, breaking news! Minimalism is about clearing the things that hold you back and make more room for the things that make you happy in the first place. And if you don't know what makes you happy, you are essentially just clearing space for nothing, which can be very daunting, because it's pretty much working on a blank canvas with no direction. 
Make the plan, then work toward that goal you have is the way to go. 

For example, I HATE housework, no seriously I do! Which is ironic considering I am doing without a maid in India, a country in which dirt piles up faster than you can spell the word dirt. 
The problem is having a maid made my life more complicated, I had to re-do everything behind her and brought me stress. So I called it quit, decided I was better off making my own system, and make it work, step by step.
Everything in my home is designed to MINIMISE time spent cleaning or doing chores. This means I keep all the things that clutter the space and gather dust to a minimum. 

Paradoxically, I also like a cozy inviting home, but cozy doesn't equal having a ton of cushions everywhere, plush carpets, and a lot of decorative accents all over the place. For me it's equals to clean, colourful, and down to the essentials : a few pillows on the sofa, lots of tea in the kitchen, and enough tea mugs for me and my visiting friends. 
Oh and plants I like to kill on the balcony, but I hired a gardener to prevent a mass murder of greens, he comes once a month to clean my plants, treat them the way I can't and even deep clean my balcony (which goes without saying, I hate doing).

Every household decisions I take are taken to make sure housekeeping will not drive me insane : buying big soap refill pack and putting the same soap in all bathroom and the kitchen. Using only one spray cleaner for everything, or even having only white bedsheets and pillow cases from the same brand that I can bleach, wash at high temperature and replace without problem. 
I hate cleaning so much, that I either find ways to hide the clutter in an organised way, or just dump all the things that no longer serve a purpose in my life. Namely, if it catches dust and will have me groan and pester every few weeks, it's good to go into the bin.

I apply the same logic to the kitchen pantry, if I don't cook a dish at least 3-4 times a month and it requires special ingredients, it's not worth my time, I'd rather enjoy a professionally cooked version of that dish in a restaurant every now and then than deal with the spoilt by humidity spices and herbs, or valuable shelf space taken by that canister of risotto rice I only used once. 

Minimalism is about simplifying your existence and finding ways to do so that work for you, and yes that includes delegating certain stuff. 

Make more space for what you love doing

Once you have worked on what you hate doing and taken every possible steps to make sure it is as minimal a nuisance as possible, bring in more of what really makes you happy.
Spend more on your hobby than exotic ingredients for dishes you rarely eat or enjoy cooking, or on those cleaning supplies you loathe. 

Make more space for your friends to pop by, or free time to spend with family, love the outdoor? Downgrade your home to a smaller one so you have more time and money to travel on weekends. A bit of a homebody? Make sure your home is big enough to keep you happy. 

Seriously it is THAT simple

I obviously love arts and crafts and this is what I make the most room into my home for. I have a lot of paint, markers, paper, odds and bits I use almost everyday. 
Downsizing there makes zero sense to me, and having my own creative space (aka the office) is vital, this means our flat has to have that spare room, it's non negotiable. And this also means that as beautiful tiny houses can be, that will never be an option for me...EVER. 
Because I also love my books a bit too much, and I love having different rooms for different purposes. As long as I don't have to dust a lot and the clutter is under control in boxes and everything can be found quickly, I'm a happy lady. 

Minimalism is really about making things work for you 

It's all about making sure you fill your life with more things that brings you joy, makes you feel at peace and relaxed and ditching all the toxic elements. 
It's not just about your home decor, it's really about living YOUR best life and making no excuses for it. 
The instant you clear any garbage out, be it material, emotional or even certain people, you instantly make more space that the things and people that matter to you can fill. 
The only catch, is that you have to first know who you are, what you need and what you really want out of our life. 
And know that those things will change as you go on in life. What makes you happy today, might stress you out in a few years from now, and that is OK. Nothing is set in stone and last forever, so don't treat your life, and emotion as this constant that should stay the same, and remember, always focus on making the best with what you have and work your way toward your goals from there.

The artwork in the picture is my very own "Retro tan and pink bubbles" and it is available in my Society6 shop. 

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  1. Yup, I like your idea of ositive functional minimalism. There are far two many things that we cling to ourselves for emotional reasons. There is the other extreme of houses with too much stuff, claustrophobically suffocating. That is their idea of decor.

    Minimalism in India in the past was also enforced since there was nothing to aspire for. People could not afford to be anything other than that. Even then certain communities were more extravagant than others more like pioneers in consumerism. The generation that grew up then hated minimalism as it was frustrating. So, when the flood gates opened, people accumulated everything and it will continue for some time.

    Yet, as the societies evolve they would invarably veer towards a more minimalistic and functional lifestyle because this minimalism is voluntary and not enforced.

    1. You are right, it has to come from self, nothing that is imposed by others or a government will work. This is why I roll my eyes each time a alcohol ban is proposed. Banning something or restricting something only makes people want to get it more.

      I remember when a lot of the continental cuisine ingredients were not available as easily in India, the instant I could get my hand on them for a reasonable price I would go on an orgy spree, even if it was not healthy food to begin with.

    2. We have climbed the consumerist roller coaster and don't want to get down any sooner. Our generation vowed that the day we have money, we would buy everything. I guess we would end up doing what countless people have done earlier, all over the world, till disillusionment sets in.

  2. Anonymous7:21 PM

    Very insightful.

  3. I could relate with this because I too believe in and practise minimalism, in almost every aspect of my life. I don't acquire anything unless I ponder over it and convince myself of the real need to have it.

    1. I’m the same, I can ponder for months wether or not to buy something. I’m at my worst with that behaviour when it comes to buy clothes. First I hate clothes shopping with passion, and second I am the type who rather have one pair of jeans or two to wear all the time until worn out than 5 of them. The older I get the more I understand Steve Jobs uniform of jeans and black turtle neck. I joked with hubby the other day that I should make black and white stripped tee shirts and jeans or black palazzo pants my only wardrobe option because when the two striped tees I have come back from ironing I don’t even bother keeping them both in the wardrobe, I wear them as soon as they are back, and then spend the other days agonising over what to wear because nothing feels as right.


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