There is a misconception minimalists insatiably purge all material things. This stereotype makes for addicting TV shows, but is definitely on the “extreme” end of the lifestyle. In the minmylife vision, we strive to create a lifestyle that reduces distractions in our lives, freeing us to focus on living our passions. This leaves plenty of room for owning material possessions, assuming those things either reduce distractions or contribute to our passions. There are four categories of things I intentionally choose to keep in my life: art, outdoor recreation gear, tools, and books.
–Art brings me joy. I keep some Turkish rugs and hand-made picture frames displaying photos of nature, family, and friends. These items conjure amazing memories and are indicative of my hobbies: travel, outdoors, photography, and woodworking. For these reasons they serve two purposes: as conversation pieces when hosting and increase the positive energy inside my home.
–Outdoor recreation is one of my highest passions. Throw me in NYC and you’ll find me in Central Park, put me in the wild west and you’ll find me backpacking in the deep backcountry, force me to stay inside all day and I’ll become restless and dispirited! It doesn’t really matter what I’m doing outside; nearly anything makes me content—walking through the park, shredding fresh powder high on alpine slopes, teetering in that perfect balance of wind and water on a sailboat, kayaking through some forgotten backwaters, serenely stargazing, and the list goes on. In order to maximize my enjoyment of this lifestyle, I have a plethora of items I consider treasured possessions. I suppose when you drill down to the technical definition of a thing that helps you do a task, my outdoor recreation gear really is just a subset of the next category I don’t purge: tools.
–Tools reduce my distractions and support my passions. With a small amount of technical knowledge and only a few basic tools you can perform routine maintenance and fix most household repairs. Add in a few formal courses or years of hands-on experience and you can tackle nearly any household or auto project. Changing the car’s oil, solving a leaking faucet, refinishing damaged drywall, and renovating the bathroom are all within the realm of possible with just a small number of tools. I would consider it a distraction to spend time and stress arranging for and paying someone else to do these things for me when I can do them myself, and even find pleasure in doing them. It also lets me transform my home to a customized area—I can change small aspects of the design without having to dish out loads of money or wait two months for a local building contractor to have an opening on his schedule.
–I love reading books, mostly non-fiction. I don’t read for entertainment, rather I read to expand my knowledge and open my mind to new possibilities. Therefore, nearly all my books have notes in the margins, underlines throughout the text, and important pages are folded for easy referencing in the future. Although I’ve previously tried switching to digital I’ve found I can’t replace the value of having the physical book for easy reference, plus I appreciate the feel and smell of them. Those I reference often reside on small bookshelves scattered throughout my home.
When I became serious about the minimalist lifestyle and started downsizing the number of material possessions, these four areas weren’t completely immune to cuts. I intentionally pared down these things to only those providing great joy or value. For example, I threw out some old camping gear I was hanging onto “just in case,” and I gave away a lot of books I had read but didn’t intend on re-reading anytime soon. I found giving away some of the things I valued a bit (such as books) but didn’t use much, if ever, brought me joy as I was passing on that value to someone who may be able to capitalize on the value more than I.
I challenge you to think about the material possessions in your life that don’t bring you value. If they don’t, part ways with them and I guarantee you’ll feel relieved because you’ll be living with less distractions and freeing yourself to be closer to your passions.
Bottom Line: Being minimalist doesn’t necessarily mean purging every material possession. This post explains 4 areas which I don’t rid myself of because they reduce distractions in my life and contribute towards my passions.
Did you find this post interesting? If so, check out our website at www.minmylife.org. If the subject material of this blog post caught your attention, I recommend starting with our positive energy page.