Minimalism is a lifestyle choice and gratitude is a state of mind. Although they are not the same, they are interrelated, and a minimalist lifestyle can lead you to live a life full of gratitude.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tsu
In all honesty, I was never quite a grateful person until I stumbled upon minimalism. Early on in my adulthood, I was enamored with the idea of owning a handsome library of books; I equated the size of my library with sophistication. I also loved owning pretty clothes. So, whenever I felt a void or bored, I would stop by a bookstore or go clothes shopping. I didn’t need anything, but I would buy because I could afford it and I wanted to feel whole.
I would always joke that if I were to move, my next place would have to be big enough for my book and clothing collections. When I shared that with my then boyfriend (now partner), he asked me this one question that truly sparked the journey of minimalism for me. He asked me, “why are you letting books and clothes dictate where to live? What are your priorities?”
He suggested that I should start by downloading a digital book and see how I’d like it. I didn’t emotionally like the idea at all. I told him how much I enjoy the visceral effect of flipping through the pages of a book, circling and highlighting words along the side and spine of a book, how satisfying it was for me to see specks of coffee stains on the pages. But without wanting to come across as close-minded, I listened and followed through with his suggestion. Long story short, I ended up not just like it, I loved it! Step number one to minimalism for me – be more cognizant of my book purchase.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci
I was sharing a 3-bedroom house with one other person when my boyfriend moved in. We occupied the smallest and the largest rooms in the house. Despite occupying two rooms, I still had to downsize so he could move his stuff in. After a little over a year, we decided to move out of this huge house, located in a quasi-suburban neighborhood, to a 400 square-foot studio near downtown where everything, including our clients, is within walking distance.
By that point, I was already living the one-in, one-out practice: I would only buy something if there’s a real need. Or if an item in my possession no longer brings me joy, I will part with it. I also had the chance to put what I’d learned from Marie Kondo into practice – I did a quick scan through all of my belongings, and discard those that no longer bring me joy or serve me. Not only did I donate all of my 500+ books, but I also purged more than half of my clothes.
I touched everything I had and quickly sorted out what brought me joy and what didn’t. If I had to discard more, I would repeat the exercise. It was a massive amount of purging I had to do, and I can’t say that I was filled with gratitude while I was doing the purge. But after the purge, I saw myself surrounded by items that would bring me joy, I suddenly felt cleaned and whole.
Minimalism to Gratitude
It’s strange to say that I became happier once I begin to own less.
When I had a house full of stuff, I didn’t have the chance to pay attention to each one of them and how they make me feel. The act of touching my possessions allowed me to slow down. Instead of looking at the things I own as a simple object, I am able to attach value to them. Each item serves a purpose, and I part ways with them when they no longer serve me.
Now, instead of living in a place that’s filled with stuff, I live in a place full of items that fulfill a purpose in MY life. Those items can be as simple as clothes or scarves. But I love them. When I go shopping (not grocery shopping, but real shopping…you know what I mean?), I no longer buy impulsively. I actually take the time to feel the product and see if it brings me joy and if I have the Ah Ha moment. Questions I ask myself these days are – Does this item bring me more joy than what I have? What do I want to throw away so I can make room for this new item?
Minimalism is a lifestyle choice: It’s a choice to live simply, to be in touch with tangible and intangible things that bring us joy, to get to know ourselves. If you find this article helpful, please hover over to the sidebar and subscribe to my monthly newsletter and join the C-Fun community.