By Kathi Szabo

I have not considered myself a minimalist, although I have been trying to purge over the years. I think it all began when I first taught a sustainability class at FIT.  Part of the curriculum was, and still is, this dated video, The Story of Stuff. But it gets its point across.

I started to think of my job in fashion retail as nothing more than selling more clothing that people actually didn’t need. It’s when I started asking myself before purchasing “Do I really need that?”

Consumerism is part of the American Way of Life.

It really blossomed after WW II.  The war initiated much innovation, much of which after the war lead us into new consumer goods. Soldiers were greeted home with an abundance of job opportunity and income grew at a pace quicker than ever before.  Families bought expansive homes in the suburbs AND they filled them with not just all the latest appliances, but STUFF!

All this STUFF is contributing to climate change and the depletion of natural resources on the planet. In fact, humanity consumes 1.7 Earths every year.  And if everyone lived like we do in America, that would be 5 Earths every year!  Incredible how what started as a patriotic way to support our society and country has gotten so far out of hand that we are destroying our home.

And all this STUFF is NOT making us any happier!

There are articles after articles with statistical data and research that show Happiness in America is declining.

America Desperate for Happiness –  Fast Company

Americans are Becoming Less Happy – LA Times

Americans Less Happy than 30 Years Ago – Reuters

And all of this started before 2020, before Covid.

One may correlate the 44% growth in ecommerce purchases in 2020 to people trying again to buy happiness with more STUFF.

The connection between becoming a Minimalist and Happiness intrigues me. If I give up all  my things, (trinket box collection, books, cooking gadgets, clothes, to just name a few), would I be happier?

Well, a study from San Francisco State University says yes! The study looked at how long levels of happiness lasted from buying an object, like our dream car, and compared that to spending money on experiences. The happiness from experiences last far longer. (Read more here)

What are the benefits of having less?

Studies show minimalists are less anxious, have less stress, and more time for relationships.  Is this because when we declutter our physical space, we also declutter the mind?

Or perhaps when we live with less, our purpose, our daily being, becomes more intentional.

In this redefined life, minimalists are not only more intentional on what they actually spend money on, but also more intentional of what they spend time on, and who they spend it with.

This is mindfulness. Consciously choosing what to purchase, what to do and with whom.

I find there is a direct correlation between mindfulness and minimalism.  And then minimalism to our Well-Being.

In a study published February 2020 in the International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, five key well-being themes were identified: autonomy, competence, mental space, awareness and positive emotions.  The research clearly showed a strong correlation between minimalism and well-being.

A New Path – Minimalism 101

For the month of September, I am going to continue my purge. Letting go of what no longer serves me.  A yogi phrase many of us use to let go of emotions.  But perhaps, we first must let go of our STUFF, creating space to be intentional. To be mindful.

If you also want to let go of what no longer serves you, join me on this journey.

It won’t be the same for everyone.

Minimalist do not let go of things that truly bring them joy.  For example, I don’t see myself letting go of my Pooh Bear trinket box, or my OZ books.  But, perhaps I don’t need the boxes that I don’t even recall where I got them, or the books have no meaning for me and I’ll never open again.  Letting go of the stuff that is cluttering my home with no purpose or intention.

I created a Facebook Group – Minimalism 101 – A Beginner’s Journey.

Each week I’ll share my journey and I hope you will share yours as well.  We can all post links to articles of interest and help each other when we feel stuck!  Research shows you improve your chance of success by 95% when you have accountability. This group can be our accountability!

I’m starting this week by purging my closet.  I did it recently, but I still have quite a few things that are just taking up space.  I’ll move to the office and the kitchen and hopefully even get to my shed.  Some weeks I may not have time, and that’s ok. A life change like this takes time, and there is not a final destination.

Interested in coming on this journey with me? Just click here to join the Facebook Group. Let’s help each other unclutter our lives and live with intention.